Muzzling a potentially suicidal student from sharing thoughts with a peer, who would in all likelihood encourage the student to seek help?
This is inexplicably stupid. And dangerous.
Via Campus Reform.
Northern Michigan University does not allow students to discuss “suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions” with their peers, threatening disciplinary action if they do.
According to New York Magazine, NMU has been sending out roughly 25-30 letters per semester to students contemplating suicide or self-harm, informing that that “you will face disciplinary action” for broaching the subject of personal difficulties with classmates.
“It is important that you refrain from discussing [self-destructive thoughts] with other students and use the appropriate resources listed below,” Mary Brundage, the associate dean of students, wrote in one such letter to student Katerina Klawes.
The letter was prompted by “a report that others are worried about your well-being,” and requests a meeting “to discuss your options for support,” though it quickly clarifies that pursuing peer support is not among those options.
Klawes, a sexual assault victim, received the email after speaking with a school counselor in early 2015 about how she felt following the assault, but maintains that she never broached the subject of suicide with the counselor.
“If you involve other students in suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions you will face disciplinary action,” the letter nonetheless continued. “My hope is that, knowing exactly what could result in discipline, you can avoid putting yourself in that position.”
Klawes, naturally concerned by the threat, responded to Brundage in an email, asking, “if I respond to concerned people, is that enough to get me in trouble? I do not want to worry others by not responding and I do not want to have the possibility of getting expelled by reaching out to my friends during this emotionally trying time and I see the possibility of misunderstanding or getting more concerned.”
Brundage replied that she could tell her friends how she is doing, “in general,” but reiterated that she could not address any suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions, calling it “a very specific limitation.”
Somehow, that exchange failed to placate Klawes, who proceeded to create a Change.org petitionprotesting the policy, which has thus far accumulated nearly 3,000 signatures.
The petition makes 10 demands, including elimination of the policy and an official apology to students affected by it, asserting that “this policy is outdated and will prohibit students from getting help that is needed.”….