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UCLA student newspaper calls for school to embrace ‘neurological diversity’

‘Neurodiversity’ is controversial term among mental health advocates

The editorial board of the University of California, Los Angeles student newspaper has come out in support of “neurodiversity” on campus, arguing that the school “cannot allow itself to become less accommodating” of students with mental illnesses.

Citing a case several years ago where a mentally ill student stabbed another student during a lab, the editorial board of The Daily Bruin nevertheless argues that “accommodating a student with a mental illness should not be considered a liability.”

“Laws exist to protect students with disabilities, and it’s easy to believe a middle road can be carved out between accommodating students who are neurodivergent and protecting other students from them,” the board writes. “But this logic relies on the stereotype that people with mental illnesses are inherently prone to violence. While [the perpetrator’s] mental health may have played a role in how he perceived and reacted to [the victim], it does not mean everyone who experiences similar symptoms will behave the same.”

“Neurodivergency” and “neurodiversity” are controversial concepts among mental health professionals and advocates. According to author John Elder Robison, the neurodiversity theory is a “new and fundamentally different way of looking at conditions that were traditionally pathologized.” This school of thought holds that people with mental illnesses “do not need to be cured; they need help and accommodation instead.”

The editors of The Bruin warn against the “slippery slope” that can result from a school’s protecting some students from other students’ mental health issues.

“It’s time we stop considering mental health a natural culprit for violence,” the board writes. “This doesn’t mean campus safety shouldn’t be of paramount concern for universities – only that it shouldn’t come at the cost of marginalizing those with mental health conditions.”

Read the editorial here. 

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