An experience by of one of our members who attended the University of Utah:
As a sophomore in college, I began working for free in a research lab at the University of Utah. I worked in the lab without any problems for most of a semester. Our PI always listened to NPR and one day a story about polygamy in Utah was the topic discussed. I had learned at this point in my life most people didn’t like the polygamy lifestyle and that I was better off not engaging in conversation about it, because even the idea of not condemning it was as bad as living it.
After the story on the radio had completed my PI proceeded to tell us about her opinion on how polygamists should not be allowed to serve in any position of power. She said polygamists should not be allowed to be doctors, lawyers, cops, judges, or politicians. She also told us that she would never accept a polygamist or their kid into medical school up at the U. She was on the admissions board at the University that I was hoping to go to.
On a day I was not in lab the topic came up again and one of the other students who was trying to defend me told her that there are good polygamists and that I was one of them. That afternoon, I walked into lab with a barrage of questions about the number of siblings I had and the number of wives my father had and if I planned on having more than one wife. She was very demeaning with the way she talked about my mother and very rude when she brought up my father. I tried to answer her questions as broadly as possible to avoid sharing details about anyone else that this woman could hurt just for the family they were born into.
I hoped to continue working for her because I knew that if I did not get on her good side, there was no way that I would be able to go to medical school at the U. However, two weeks later I had a final exam that overlapped with our Friday lab meeting, and she told me that if I was not in lab meeting then I would need to find a new lab to work in. I was really confused because up to this point there had been zero issues, and other people had asked to miss lab meetings for far less important reasons than a final exam.
I emailed her and asked if there was anything that I could do to still work in her lab. She emailed back and said that if I could not prioritize her lab, she did not want me to come into lab on Monday. She told me to make sure that my lab notebook was left on my work bench and that she did not need to talk to me about it anymore if I was going to take my final instead of going to lab meeting. I took my final and never went back to lab. Because of this experience and other similar examples, I have only told one person in over 10 years of employment at the University about my family. I know firsthand the price of sharing information about my family to people at work.
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