Am I over-reacting to this situation?
December 8, 2011 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Am I over-reacting to this situation or should I try and take this organization on to get what I want. What I want is the student discount for an educational conference.

The conference discount is for full-time students only. I attend college part-time due to having MS. I cannot go full-time. They let me join last year at the student discounted rate but that is it. Nothing else and even that membership is now in question.

I was told today that it would be unfair to full-time students to let disabled part-time students attend at the discounted rate. I am really kind of surprised by this response and a little pissed off. Am I being unfair to full-time students by wanting to be treated in the same way they are? I have to admit that I am starting to feel a little sorry for myself and want to send off a hasty response, but I thought I would ask you guys first before doing something I might regret later.
posted by cairnoflore to Education (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think you're overreacting, but I do think you need find an advocate rather than write an angry email. If your disability means that, for you, a full course load is the same as a non-disabled student's part-time course load, it is fair for you toget a student discount otherwise reserved for full-time students. Does your university have a disability office or other person/resource who could help you approach the conference to try to renegotiate? Is there an MS-related organization that might be able to help you?
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:07 PM on December 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't think you are overreacting. If you want an argument to use, you could point out that the reason other part time students don't get a discount is no doubt because they are presumed to have more income (due to having part or even full time jobs) than full time students would. Your MS would mean that you can't be in half/full time employment and studying, so it's not fair to treat you as though you are.
posted by lollusc at 7:10 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you at a public university in the US? If so I believe your school is required to have an Office of Disability Services or equivalent (you can call your version of student affairs or your dean of students to find out where Disability Services is located and/or whom to talk to there.) They should be able to help you out with this--- either by saying, "I'm sorry, we've run into this before, it's legal and there's nothing we can do," or by saying, "Excuse me? Yes we will be happy to advocate for you on that." I think the second one is the most likely option. Give them a call, they'll know what they're doing.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:16 PM on December 8, 2011

Best answer: Remain calm. It is more than likely that you will be able to work this out. You are not overreacting, you probably just need to talk to the right person. Depending on the conference [whether it's for-profit or a fundraiser type thing for a non-profit] and the level of big-deal-ness it is, you will have to strategize slightly differently, but there should be no reason you can't work this out. BUT, I'd remain calm because best case scenario you get what you want out of this [fair access to membership and conference opportunities] without having to be a crabby pain in the ass about this or hoot and holler.

I'd start by talking to your office of disability services who may be able to make a phone call and/or write a letter/email for you. If that's not an option for some reason, I'd try to work your way up the food chain at the organization. It's possible the person you spoke with is just an intern or otherwise not really in charge. Make sure, before you make a fuss, that you've gotten official world from the people who actually make the decisions. At that point, if you've gotten a "no" or an "it's not fair" response at that level, that's when I'd up the ante, get a little more annoyed and take this to a larger audience. Mention it on social media, contact them publicly over facebook. I'd continue to be polite and decent but at the same time stick to your guns "Full time school is not an option for me. I am as full time as I can be due to my disability. I would like you to understand the context of my situation and consider giving me a student discount. Thank you." Repeat, document, repeat. I think it will work out okay but it might take a few phone calls or emails for people to sort of get it. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 7:21 PM on December 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I consider it unlikely that they are required to offer a rate for full-time students to a part-time student, regardless of the situation of that part-time student. I think an angry letter is the least likely way to make this happen, and possibly will make it less likely to happen.

jessamyn has made some good suggestions. I think it would also be worth pointing out other organizations that give you the same benefits that a full-time student gets due to your inability to be a full-time student, so the conference knows there is precedent for this.
posted by grouse at 7:29 PM on December 8, 2011

I don't think you're over-reacting, although I agree that a "hasty response" might not be the best strategy. If you're getting resistance from the admin/office staff of the organization, try writing a polite letter to the board of directors. Make the case that although you are not a "full time" student you are attending classes to the fullest extent of your abilities. It probably wouldn't hurt to include some praise of the organization and a couple lines about how you want to be involved in all the wonderful things that their marvelous members are doing, and you hope that this conference can be the start of a long and fruitful professional relationship between yourself and the organization, etc, etc.
posted by Orinda at 7:53 PM on December 8, 2011

Response by poster: I will speak to my instructors tomorrow. One of them is about to become a member of the BOD. I will be calm and polite. Thanks.
posted by cairnoflore at 8:07 PM on December 8, 2011

People are weird---why would extending you a benefit that's already extended to full time students harm said full time students who are already enjoying the benefit? (If anything, it would be unfair to other part time students who do not enjoy the benefit)

Whoever denied you doesn't actually understand the policy.

Follow the advice above. (I'm a part time student and have never run into anyone who makes this distinction when offering a student discount. Even the federal govt recognizes 6 credits per semester as student status for deferring student loans. Jeepers)
posted by vitabellosi at 8:10 PM on December 8, 2011

Are you considered a full-time student by your University? At my University that was defined as, for a disabled person, (roughly speaking) taking two courses in one term. If you're considered full time, that might make things easier once you've found the proper channels.
posted by Yowser at 2:21 AM on December 9, 2011

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