MUN prof says controversy could have been avoided, but alternatives ignored

Dr. Ranee Panjabi says there were other options to accommodate a hearing-impaired student in her class that were ignored before the issue exploded into a public controversy. An agreement signed with Memorial University in 1996 allows Panjabi not to wear a microphone and transmitter, but it also stipulates that MUN will provide an adjustable stand to hold the microphone and that Panjabi will deliver her lecture near the stand. William Sears has filed a human rights complaint about the matter, but Panjabi says he left before she could explain the mic stand option. Meanwhile, Panjabi says she has received abusive e-mails and phone messages since the controversy erupted. She speaks exclusively with NTV’s Lynn Burry.

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MUN president apologizes to hard-of-hearing student

Former student shocked by repeat of 1996 incident with MUN professor

Feature Interview: Ranee Panjabi

MUN agreement allows professor to refuse device for hearing-impaired students

12 thoughts on “MUN prof says controversy could have been avoided, but alternatives ignored

  1. Alvina Kelly

    Why would MUN ever sign a contract with a professor to allow the prof to refuse offering a student the opportunity to receive a higher education. Is it not what you sign up for when you decide to become a teacher, at any level? To accommodate students to offer them the education they deserve. As for it being a religious issue, with not wearing the transmitter, I am left to assume that this prof also does not have a cell phone, since is that not a transmitter of a greater degree? All students have the right to a higher education, that’s what they are paying for, and without the students, this professor would not have a job. A teache, at any level of education, should NEVER be allowed to refuse whatever measures are needed to educate students. It is a students right to get that education, and as a student with a disability, it must be more difficult to make the decision to further your education, then only to be met with difficulties in doing so by the very people who should be there to help you is appalling.

  2. Katherine Davidson

    The student who required the FM system should be accommodated. That is inclusion that we promote in Canadian education. I do not believe the religious excuse. That reason for not teaching to a student’s needs is unacceptable. Professors who argue for such religious reasons to not include students should not be hired.

  3. Alumni

    As a former student of Prof. Panjabi, it is baffling to me that this matter was not properly addressed and the student in question was not accommodated. You would think that there would be a process in place for students requiring accommodation when they register for a course in the first place – a straight forward strategy that is in place in most post-secondary institutions.
    The whole matter is a sad state of affair. The university should bring the student and the professor together to find proper accommodation in a dignified manner. That’s the proper way; there was a time when the respect for academia, scholars and students was paramount. Unfortunately seeing how this matter is handled is a sad state of affair. What a shame when everyone loses.

  4. Jonathan MacDonald

    So…the story is about persons with disabilities…would NTV be able to provide closed captioning to their ONLINE videos for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people? Congratulations on providing CC services on TV…Now…please work on providing CC for online videos!

  5. Lisa

    A microphone on a stand does not work the same as a transmitter worn on the clothing or on a lavalier 6 inches from the professor’s mouth that goes directly to the student’s receiver. I am a teacher for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and I am also a proud parent of a young lady with hearing loss. The accommodation for a class like she describes is an FM transmitter worn by the professor, a pass-around microphone for the students when they are having discussions and all video material needs to be captioned. If she’s so strong in her religion and feels so strongly about it that she is willing to go through all of this, I don’t know why she can’t tell us or point us to the religious text that says she can’t wear an FM transmitter. I’m pretty sure when Hindu texts were written back in ancient times, FM receivers and transmitters did not even exist! Hindu friends and Hindu scholars have said there is nothing under their religion that they know of that would prevent her from wearing an FM transmitter. What I think is she likely believes that he committed wrong-doings in a former life and therefore deserves his disability in this life and not to be accommodated because of it. I think it is a case of her being a judgmental, discriminatory person hiding behind and twisting something from religion to make it seem like it’s impinging on her rights to accommodate the student. It honestly makes me nuts that this is allowed.

    I would love for her to prove me wrong.

    I would love for her to show me the text or scripture in her religion that says she cannot wear an FM transmitter.

    We are all waiting MUN and Dr. Panjabi.

  6. Irene

    Oh!!!!….there’s another option now that it’s in the media.. If there was another option why wasn’t he told about it immediately. Why didn’t she say, no, I can’t wear the mic but this is what i can do…… Was that done??? NO….. BS is what I say. Is that why she removed his name of the attendance list?, because there was another option?? I don’t think so!!! Time now to fess up to the TRUTH and accept the REPRIMAND gracefully just as William had to accept your REFUSAL. BIG SUPPORT for you William Good Luck in the Future.

  7. Ron Knowling

    In some ways I feel sorry for this woman because she is isolated and under considerable pressure. However, she has created this situation herself. There is no body of theological thought to support her claims of a religious belief. She never tries to compromise but is quite happy to present herself as a victim. As a former student from this Department I have great respect for the faculty and staff but this woman receives none of it. She is difficult to work with and contributes little to the life of the department let alone to her students.

  8. Niamh

    I really doubt there was “another option” considering she asked for his name to strike off the attendance list. No one does that BEFORE telling someone about another option.

  9. Keith Sullivan

    Lynn I watched your piece on Dr Panjabi and it surprises me she is still around here I am not a mun student I work as a Taxi Driver in the city and she is one of the most hated people in the city by cab drivers. I work night now so I haven’t driven her in a long time. She has complained about a lot of us over the years. I remember the last time she refuse to help a student with a problem it almost seems like mun doesn’t care about there students and think the professors are more important.

  10. Francis Overbeck

    This completely ignores the religious grounds issue. Also, if it wouldn’t work, too bad for the student. She wouldn’t even try. She brought this upon herself. Just put the mic on and be done with it.

    Additionally, there is no god or gods to be offended by the wearing of a mic.

  11. oobaka

    Watched the interview on NTV with the professor. Funny how she’s able to wear rings on manicured fingers on both hands, earrings and what looks to be a wig but can’t wear something that’s actually a benefit to someone other than herself.

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