Students use hoax to gain perspective

The students of Professor and Department Chair of Education Donald King’s SPED 230: Introduction to the Exceptional Learner class were provided with an opportunity to participate in an activity titled “Nails in the Fence- Victimization Perceptions Regarding Differences.”

This activity was not mandatory, and only students who were comfortable participating did so. The activity was based off of a poem titled “Nails in the Fence” by an unknown author. The main idea behind the poem is that once harsh words are spoken, a person can apologize, but those words are like nails that have been driven into a fence. The nails can be taken out, but the holes will still remain in the fence; likewise, the person the harsh words were spoken to will still have emotional scars.

The purpose of the activity was for the students to gain a more specific understanding of the potential negative social victimization encountered by individuals who are labeled as disabled.

For this activity, students who participated self-identified with a negative social construct, condition, or characteristic (i.e. pregnant, disabled, substance abuser, etc.) The students then waited to see how their friends, and acquaintances responded to the information.

The activity was cut short by the administration because of potential harm to these students or other students on campus who may turn to the students participating with their own negative social constructs in confidence only to find out that it was not actually true.

King and 11 students participated. King and Kayla Rundquist, freshman of North Platte, self-identified as being bisexual/gay; Phillip Duncan, freshman of Chadron, identified as a drug user; Cody Davis, sophomore of Fort Morgan, Colorado, identified as a drug dealer; Megan Fish, freshman of Mitchell, identified as a self-inflicted abuser; Courtney Munger, sophomore of Newcastle, Wyoming, and Morgan Hays, sophomore of Douglas, Wyoming, identified as being pregnant; Matthew Rader, sophomore of Bridgeport, identified as a having a sexually transmitted disease; and Dianna Hale, sophomore of Douglas, Wyoming, and Marissa Apland, freshman of Spearfish, South Dakota, identified as having an eating disorder.

King wanted to make sure that all students and faculty on campus were made aware that the social constructs were not true.

“I would expect my good friends to come directly to me and ask about the rumor, rather than talking about it behind my back,” King said. “When we do that we are only perpetuating potential misinformation that can be hurtful to ones self and their family.”

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