Let's be strong with diversity! - writes Tomasz Michalowicz, president of the JiM Foundation, to the rector of the University of Bialystok. And calls for a disassociation from the article by a university employee
in the Republic that discriminates against people with autism.
The entire letter can be read below:
Mr. Dr. Robert Ciborowski, Prof. UwB
Rector of the University of Bialystok
I am writing you this letter in response to the article "Should mentally unbalanced people be admitted to universities" by Dr. Piotr Nowak - an employee of your University - which appeared in the "Plus minus" magazine of the Rzeczpospolita daily.
As president of the JiM Foundation, which creates a better world for people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome, I am sincerely troubled by the theses presented in the article by an employee of your University. The opinions presented in the text are detrimental to people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome, inconsistent with the truth and with current scientific knowledge, build a false image of people with neurodiversity in society and reinforce their stigmatization.
As Dr. Joanna Ławicka, president of the Prodeste Foundation and also a person with Asperger's Syndrome, wrote in her petition to the editorial board of Rzeczpospolita, on many occasions people on the autism spectrum have achieved success in various fields of science and art, holding important social and professional positions.
The JiM Foundation works with people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome who, as self-advocates, advocate on behalf of themselves and other autistic people. One of the self-advocates is Agnieszka Warsaw, who referred to the article in the following words:
ASD is not a mental illness, but a neurodevelopmental disorder. The advantage of being human is, among other things, being different and independent in forming logical conclusions. If freedom of speech was invoked by your employee's article, is there a limit, and where?
I am a non-habilitated, untitled person, and yet I am able to set boundaries. Not for the sake of decency and "political" correctness, but reason, of which I have enough to - despite the fact that I am an autistic person - spare my words if I have nothing of value to convey.
I try to be economical in my statements, so without further ado I want to say that these words of ignorance have nothing to do with scientific facts.
1. autism is not a psychological matter or a psychiatric disease but a neurological and neurodevelopmental one.
2 Wanting to remain objective and lean towards the hateful, untrue and uncultured content of your professor's article, I reply that yes, everyone can and should have access to science.
3 As a person with Asperger's Syndrome, I expect a response in the form of an apology or any action that will prove that the controversial employee of the Department of Philosophy suffered the consequences - pedestrian Agnieszka Warsaw, Self-Advocate working at the JiM Foundation.
I would like Agnieszka Warszawy's words to have a chance to resonate. So I will only add from myself: universities have always been considered in the world as an oasis of freedom and freedom of thought. However, there are limits to this freedom. We cannot allow discriminatory and exclusionary views to spread at universities through statements like those of Mr. Nowak. Universities must not become an exclusive club for a select few.
I believe that as a decent person, you - as rector - should disassociate yourself from Dr. Nowak's words.
For the sake of people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome, for the protection of their own name, for the future of the University of Bialystok, for the sake of future and current students, for building an inclusive culture at all universities in Poland.
Let's be strong with diversity.
President of JiM Foundation