Complaint: There are some qualities of Bethany Swain that need special attention. She needs to be patient when helping students with learning disabilities in a hands-on course to learn the basic fundamentals of news videography. There have been some instances in which Professor Swain did not seem to care about assisting students with learning disabilities who needed help learning the skills of videography. In the first week of the course, she was intimidating but managed to welcome all students into the course. There was some feeling of anxiety and fear in the course given the fact that students have taken JOUR 203 (also known as JOUR 504 for master students): Introduction to Multimedia Skills in the Spring 2014 semester and in Summer 2014 Session I, and most likely have forgotten videography skills. During week 2 of the course, she began teaching the students how to use a DSLR camera to shoot video. Bethany Swain was very upset at the students for borrowing a Nikon Beginner Camera: the D3100, despite the fact that she failed to provide permission for students to use the Nikon Intermediate Camera: the D5100. She started to exhibit signs of frustration in her lectures, which soon turned to anger. As a student with a learning disability, I am not comfortable with Bethany Swain yelling at me. Bethany once admonished me for not having an external hard drive saying, u201cYou came unprepared for class.u201d I was also harshly reprimanded for not doing an in-class video sequence assignment, which I had actually done. Professor Swain scared me and made me feel bad about myself. As the semester continued, she became more intimidating. Once the assignment was finished and Professor Swain presented them in class, her critique of my piece was unnecessarily harsh. The piece was shot and edited poorly, but she made me feel as if I could not shoot and edit video properly, unlike the ten students without a learning disability who were are able to complete the assignment properly without any difficulty. After the third-class lecture, I set up an appointment to meet with Bethany Swain in advance about my learning disability. I explained to her that I have a documented learning disability, and I had a letter addressed to her explaining my learning disability, learning needs, and expectations of the course, as well as my educational and career goals. Before she accepted the letter, Bethany Swain said again, u201cYou came unprepared for class.u201d At this point I was in tears and feeling disgusted with myself. I explained to her that my family was having financial problems where money was extremely limited. My parents did not want me to buy the external hard drive until my textbooks had been purchased. Bethany Swain inferred I was just making excuses for myself. I also had questions about the out-of-class video sequence assignment and Bethany Swain tried to rush me out of her office. As I gave her the letter along with the disability accommodations sheet, she made a remark under her breath saying, u201cI never received a letter like this before.u201d Bethany Swain made me feel that she did not care about what I had to say. During week 3, Bethany Swain was still reprimanding me for not having an external hard drive and she was becoming more frustrated with me as I also did not do well on the out-of-class video sequence assignment. I was told to redo it, which I did; however, I told one of my classmates by email that I need help learning the skill because I was neither understanding nor performing the skill well in class. As Professor Swain became more and more intimidating and disrespectful of the students, including one with a learning disability, my time in the class was miserable. This affected my participation in class. I did not like to respond when called on in class. In week 4 of the course, I finally received my external hard drive and Bethany Swain had a lecture, which involved a transition from using a DSLR camera to using a broadcast camera. Since I was struggling with how to use the broadcast camera, I asked Bethany Swain for help. She told me that the camera battery was not fully charged and that I should go to the equipment desk to get a fully charged camera battery. When I returned to the classroom, the professor had moved on to another topic on how to use a broadcast camera. I was very confused, and it became very difficult for me to catch up and use the broadcast camera; this resulted in my doing very poorly on another in-class video sequence assignment the same day that students were taught how to use the broadcast camera for the very first time. Later on during that week, I received a call from Disability Support Services (DSS) director, Dr. Jo Ann Hutchinson on September 16, 2014, stating that she had been speaking with Professor Swain and wanted to meet with me to collaborate with my needs. I also received an email message stating, u201cI am reaching out to you to discuss your support needs as you continue with your course work at UMD. We, at the DSS, want to be sure that your accommodations are developed in a manner that ensures access to course materials.u201d A meeting was set for September 24, 2014, in the afternoon. On the day of the meeting, Bethany Swain was not in attendance, and it was just the DSS director and myself. In the meeting, the DSS director acted as though she did not know anything about my situation with Bethany Swain. The DSS Director revealed that Bethany Swain professor had expressed concerns that the course was too much for a student with a learning disability and that she felt it was inappropriate to ask my classmates for help learning the fundamental videography skills that I failed to understand, as well as performed properly in the classroom. The meeting was not a plan to collaborate with my needs; the DSS director simply reprimanded me for asking for help. It was apparent that the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland at College Park was not accustomed to dealing with the needs of a student with disabilities. To my knowledge, I am the only such student in the journalism school and in the undergraduate broadcast journalism track. The experience has traumatized me to the point where I could not go to Professor Swain for help. It has drastically changed the relationship between Bethany Swain and I to where I can no longer trust her nor ask her for help, and it has also hindered me from asking for help from the unofficial teaching assistant and my classmates. It made me feel that I was really alone, and that I was not getting the help I needed. Disability Support Services and Bethany Swain did not do anything to accommodate my learning disability. Neither party established a learning plan in order to help me learn hands-on fundamental skills of videography or create other helpful and appropriate alternatives since my accommodations are not applicable to a hands-on course like this one. During week 5, I became very afraid to see Bethany Swain to discuss the situation and the experience I had; and I could no longer trust her, other professors, and students, or anyone in the journalism school as well as DSS who have a history of not assisting students with disabilities and informing professors on how to deal with them in a proper way. It took me Week 5, Week 6, and Week 7 to think about what has happened. I tried other avenues of help such as going to legal aid, but they could not help me. I was also afraid of going to the Undergraduate Dean at the university as well as the assistant dean and the department dean in the journalism school, fearing that they would side with Bethany Swain and not help me at all. I never actually received the help that I needed to succeed in learning and mastering the skills of videography, as it is essentially important in the journalism profession and in the course. When I finally had the courage to inform the professor on Week 8, her last week in the school and in the course, this was the same week she was set to go on maternity leave to have her second child and was near her due date, she commented on my skills saying, u201cYou are improving, but not in the way I wanted you to.u201d She then told me that she had reported me to DSS because she believed I was not following her learning objectives as indicated on the syllabus and also mentioned that one of my classmates was uncomfortable with me asking for help. She did not establish any plan to help me learn the fundamentals of videography and did not provide alternative methods to assist my learning disability and level the playing field in the course, so that I could have the same opportunities as other students without disabilities. Bethany Swain did not do anything for me before going on maternity leave where she gave birth to Evan Swain. She has clearly impacted my experience in the JOUR 262 course and future hands-on courses. I now see the professors in the journalism school very differently where they might not help a student with a learning disability. She left me behind and did not help me with my needs and was very rude to me. This has impacted me in not taking any other courses with her including her capstone, The ViewFinderthat focuses on natural sound packages and visual storytelling. I am unable to trust people in the journalism school to offer reasonable and appropriate accommodations or alternative learning methods when a student with a learning disability needs help on learning the hands-on fundamental skills of videography and needs other ways to learn rather than just u201cseeing itu201d and watching a video repeatedly. Bethany Swain has given me a bad experience in the JOUR 262: News Videography course, and I have since had sincere regrets about taking the course with her. I do If I met with Bethany Swain before the fall semester had started and inquired in person about the course and also knew that she was going to be on maternity leave during the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester, as well as she was not going to be helpful with my learning disability and provide me with the individualized one-on-one attention that I would need in a hands-on course like this, I would have reconsidered my options and taken the course with another professor who would better assist me. Based on my experience in Bethany Swainu2019s class, I felt that my needs were not met in her class, and I did not receive the help that I needed. As for the ViewFinder, Bethany already failed to help me as a student/aspiring television news reporter. She said that learning disabled students will not be reporters or producers and are a piece of trash. She also hates people of color and is a white nationalist.
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