Thursday, 11 February 2016

"He Said To Hold A Glock To Their Heads; He Didn't Say To Shoot Them"

Added because otherwise the picture for this post will automatically be Gambit
Holy hellfire, is the world filled with some truly disgraceful assemblies of swamp-water and cowshit.

Aside from rage , the only thing I can really add to Surrence's comments is context. One of my roles in my department is to act as first contact for around twenty or so undergraduates. Their physical and mental health are a primary concern. Sometimes that means talking to them about the process by which they can apply for special consideration of "extenuating circumstances" because they've broken a leg and can't get to lectures, or they miss an assessed class test because they got food poisoning.

On occasion, I discuss with students how we can support them during long-term depression.

This is a tough job, partially because my own depression means these conversations are entirely too familiar, but also simply because I'm a human being and listening to another human being talk about how much they're suffering and how completely helpless they feel in the wake of that is a profoundly upsetting experience. It is my job to find a way to ask a student if they are planning on harming themselves. It is my job to phone them if they've stopped responding to emails to check they are still alive. All of this is as part of a considered departmental response, of course; I'm not suggesting I'm going above or beyond here.  But that's precisely the point. When it comes to mental health, the standard response has to be to understand the worse-case scenario and react accordingly.

Unless you're Mount St Mary's University in Maryland. If you're there, you need to ask your students whether they're mentally ill so you can flag them as likely underachievers who can then be asked if they'd rather not leave so they don't spoil the graduation ratio with their miserable tear-stained failures.
In an email exchange, obtained by the Post, some professors expressed concern about the survey, and one shared with colleagues some questions he said were from the survey that troubled him, given that the survey was not confidential and would be used to judge students. It included questions such as:
“How often were each of the following things true in the last week?:
I felt depressed.
I felt that I could not shake the blues, even with the help of family and friends.
I thought my life had been a failure.
I felt that people disliked me.”
I'm sure the story of the fired academics is worth following up on, but it's this section that needs to be engraved on stone tablets and fired through the window of every who has argued those with depression need to pull themselves together. Somehow we've arrived - in 2016! - a situation in which there are people who don't just under-consider or ignore or refuse to take seriously depression, but who will actually seek out those suffering from it so they can be pressured into going away.

This is utterly contrary to the most basic standards of care a university should be held to, to say nothing of basic human decency.  The idea of ever having to hand out this questionnaire as part of my pastoral duties makes me want to toss back a paraquat cocktail. The fact that the man who instituted this policy described those who would fall afoul of it as bunnies in need of drowning is almost too perfect.

Something to think about the next time someone tells you universities are slaves to the PC brigade.

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