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Getting Run Over: A collaborative auto-ethnography of graduate students with disabilities
Michael Tilford Conference on Diversity & Multiculturalism (2019)
  • Gayitri Kavita Indar, Molloy College
Increasingly higher education researchers and practitioners are examining the lived experiences of graduate students battling mental illnesses in academia (Grady, La Touche, Oslawski-Lopez, Powers, & Simacek, 2014; Storrie, Ahern, & Tuckett, 2010). Evans, Bira, Gastelum, Weiss, and Vanderford (2018) found this population was six times as likely to experience anxiety and depression than the general public, a disparity further exacerbated for women and students of color in grad school (Truong & Museus, 2012). People who are chronically ill, need accommodations, and have disabilities are not seen as capable of being productive, responsible, or independent learners. Graduate students and faculty with disabilities are excluded from academia by a hierarchy powered by racism, sexism, and ableism (Carter, Catania, Schmitt & Swenson, 2017). This erasure can lead to students with disabilities avoiding disability services because of stigma from peers or faculty, insufficient information regarding access, services that are not useful, and professors who do not comply with accommodations (Marshak et al., 2010). Rooted in Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “concept of intersectionality” (1990), this collaborative autoethnographic (CAE; Chang, Nguniri, & Hernandez, 2012) presentation draws on the multiple, marginalizing oppressions experienced by graduate students living with physical and mental impairments. While du Cille (1994) warns that existing at such interstices increases the likelihood of being “run over,” or encountering overt discrimination, our collective experience was more one of benign neglect. As such, we assume a disability critical race theory (DisCrit) framework in suggesting institutional improvements to contest the invisible reproduction of systemic inequities that could prevent similarly positioned students from being retained in the academy (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013; National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). Our recommendations include improving hiring and tenure practices, innovative implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), and increasing faculty and staff awareness to create cultures supportive of individuals with mental illnesses and physical impairments.
  • Autoethnography,
  • Higher Education,
  • Mental Illness
Publication Date
Fall October 4, 2019
University of Kansas
Citation Information
Gayitri Kavita Indar. "Getting Run Over: A collaborative auto-ethnography of graduate students with disabilities" Michael Tilford Conference on Diversity & Multiculturalism (2019)
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