Ending Discrimination On Campus: The Stanford Settlement And The Future Of College Mental Health
When it comes to mental health, many colleges engage in discriminatory practices that exclude students with psychiatric disabilities from full participation on campus. Lack of reasonable accommodations in the classroom, involuntary or coerced medical withdraws, and sanctions related to mental health challenges can make colleges inaccessible for many students who may not be aware of their rights.
A recent settlement at Stanford University focused on discriminatory leave of absence policies, and advocacy among students themselves are increasing awareness of students’ rights and creating pressures on colleges and universities to remove barriers to inclusion. Join us for a webinar with three leaders in the field of disability rights on campus to explore:
- The rights of students with psychiatric disabilities on campus;
- The recent settlement at Stanford University and what that means for other campuses; and
- How students can support one another increasing accessibility and addressing discrimination on campus.
Monica Porter joined Disability Rights Advocates in 2016 as an Equal Justice Works Fellowship Attorney, sponsored by Ebb Point Foundation, focusing on the rights of California higher education students with psychiatric disabilities. In 2018, she became a staff attorney. Ms. Porter received her J.D. with honors from The George Washington University in 2016, and her B.A. with honors from UC Berkeley in 2009. During law school, she interned with the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice, Legal Barriers to Employment Project at Bay Area Legal Aid, and the Disability Rights Program of the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center. She also clerked for the Honorable Cynthia McKnight at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and worked as a Student-Attorney with GW Law’s Public Justice Advocacy Clinic, for which she was awarded GW Law’s Community Legal Clinics Volunteer Service Award.
Allilsa Fernandez has worked on governmental policy, research, and public communications in relations to disability. Allilsa’s personal experience with disabilities informs and inspires her activism for disability rights. Allilsa graduated magna cum laude from Stony Brook University in December 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, despite being told she would never be able to attend school because of her struggles with psychosis.
She founded Peer Mental Health Alliance, an organization on campus that provides resources for mental health through literature, peer-to-peer support, and creative arts programming, which aims to end the stigma associated with mental illness.
Allilsa was also an undergraduate representative for the President’s ADA Committee and a mentor for the Accelerated College Education (ACE) program to provide guidance and resources to incoming students with disabilities. She also participated in the Participatory Action Research (PAR), a university research program that enlists students with disabilities to provide the administration with feedback on accessibility issues. Furthermore, Allilsa was a member of the student advisory board for Disability Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring (DREAM), where she worked on accessibility and inclusion issues in higher education nationwide.
During her time at Stony Brook University, Allilsa received numerous awards from the Student Affairs and the LGBTQ Center for her distinguished service and leadership on campus. She also served on the boards of various mental health, disability, and LGBTQ+ organizations. Through her activism, Allilsa made landmark changes at the university: requiring captions for videos produced by the undergraduate student government; providing information about accommodations on all material for university events; and ensuring that the ADA automated buttons on campus are operational, and if not, where to report them to be fixed in a timely matter.
Allilsa’s activism has been featured in local and national media, including in Forbes, Latina Rising, Newsday, Stony Brook University News, News 12, TBR, Ignite National, NW ADA center, to name a few. Her post on Facebook of her personal story went viral, appearing in several blogs and podcasts.
Allilsa has completed a Fellowship in the Coelho Center Disability Law, Policy and Innovations in Loyola Law School, and a Lawbound program hosted by Latino Justice. Allilsa aspires to become a mental health/ disability lawyer.
In her leisure time, she enjoys writing poetry, performing spoken word, and playing the piano by ear.