By Neil Blake
I write this article to encourage AUA to take a more progressive approach to dispute resolution, a concept I learned from living in Antigua.
As a fourth semester medical student, I love living in Antigua. I have overcome many challenges in life to get to medical school. I also have a learning disability.
AUA dismissed me unfairly based on my disability, i.e. the violation was minor, talking to someone in library, which was used as a pretense, possible disability discrimination. The Department of Education is investigating.
Other AUA American students who had similar experiences are free to report any violation of their rights to the U.S. Department of Education OCR using the web-based form on: https://ocrcas.ed.gov/
I seek to enlist the support of the Antigua community to raise awareness to encourage AUA to “do the right thing” by taking a less adversarial approach to its own students and to the Antiguan community. Americans are guests in Antigua and should behave as such.
AUA could restore me to good standing like any other school would do under the circumstances but has refused to do so. This has ruined my career and is needlessly harsh and cruel. Other students had similar experiences so it is a major problem AUA needs to address.
A major area AUA can improve on is the student hearing process of PSC (Professional Standards Committee), whereby faculty verbally berate a student, which is not a good idea. Holding hearings for minor offenses is not a good idea. Cross-examining victims is not a good idea. Issuing unilateral (AUA only) verdicts, without the input of the student, is not a good idea.
The rulings from these hearings affect the entire life, future, and well-being of the students. Students should have an input in the matter, considering how much they pay in tuition.
AUA has a wonderful University Counseling Center (UCC).
A more progressive approach is to refer students to counseling. No one comes to medical school with bad intent. When problems arise or complaints are filed, my first thought is always, “Are you sure it is not a misunderstanding?”
People are quick to anger and slow to ponder. Working problems out and being open-minded is something I learned in Antigua. The Antiguan approach to dispute resolution has the potential to revolutionize dispute mediation in North America. It is Antigua’s greatest export.