WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A student with disabilities said she was discriminated against at George Washington University.
In a viral video, 3rd-year business student Liza Malinsky records a tense exchange with her professor on January 25 ending in the professor calling campus police and kicking her and her service dog out of class.
In the video, you can hear part of the exchange:
Malinsky (behind the cellphone): “How am I creating a liability - because I have a service dog?”
The Professor: “You need to submit paperwork.”
Malinsky: “You are discriminating...Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, do you want me to look it up for you?”
“It’s kind of triggering to watch so I just posted it and didn’t listen to it,” explained Malinsky when she sat down with WUSA9. “I was exposed in front of my peers and I was humiliated.”
Malinsky’s service dog is named Charlie. He is a 3-year-old American Pitbull. Malinsky started training Charlie soon after she adopted him when he was only a year old. She said he helps her cope with her extreme anxiety.
“As soon as I was removed from the classroom, I started to have an anxiety attack and he immediately started alerting to me, he laid across me at my feet and he was able to calm me down,” she explained.
In the video, the professor is heard telling Malinsky she needed to submit paperwork to the professor. WUSA9 discovered the professor was wrong.
According to GW’s policy on service animals, “a student is not required to submit an accommodation request to bring a service animal into a university building.”
Malinsky feels the professor was also discriminating against the dog’s breed,
“When she started calling us a liability, she said it’s because he’s a pit bull and putting other students at risk,” Malinsky said.
Malinsky claims this is the second time the same professor kicked her out of class. This time, however, she apologized. Malinsky shared an email with WUSA9 in which the professor apologized and wrote she is “committed to learning from this experience.”
A GW spokesperson sent WUSA9 this statement:
GW is committed to maintaining a non-discriminatory, harassment-free, diverse work and education environment and ensuring students with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in our programs and activities. Our colleagues in the Division for Student Affairs, Disability Support Services, and the Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement are actively working to provide support to those adversely affected by this incident. The university is also working with the GW School of Business leadership and will remain involved to ensure that GW students have an inclusive classroom experience.
Malinsky said only action, not an apology will fix this, but she hopes by sharing her story she can encourage others to advocate for their rights.
“The process doesn’t seem to protect students,” she explained. “Students are still being made to feel unsafe, uncomfortable and uncared for.”