Trigger Warning: workplace ableism and academic ableism, lack of legal protection for students against discrimination.
In December 2019, I was in my first year of university and had accepted an internship in a medical school lab. It was Thursday afternoon in February 2020 and I was walking to my introductory biology class and got a message from the Principal Investigator (PI).
I should come by his office after my immunology exam. Not sure why, I immediately started to worry. I tried to keep calm: he probably wants to discuss my new project. Why worry when there have been no problems? I walked up to his office cautiously.
He told me to sit down. I obeyed, hearing in his tone that this meeting had been something to fear. He said other people in the lab had a problem with me. While I knew they didn’t particularly like me, I didn’t think they had actual grievances. I was flabbergasted. “What problems? What did I do?” I asked.