• SCU group works tochange policies
By Becky Doucette
Maja Smedberg, a senior at SCU is callingfor a change in the Student Code of Conduct’slanguage regarding students with mentalillness.Smedberg has assembled a task-forcewhich includes students, faculty, staff andadministrators, who met last week to discusspossible changes.“The goal of the task group is to helpSCU be the best it can be regarding mentalhealth and mental illness; on the cuttingedge of mental health policy and education,”Smedberg said.The task-force focused specifically onthe Student Behavioral Leave of Absence(non-discipline based) policy (printed tothe right of this article). The SCU Code of Conduct provides step-by-step instructionsregarding how the University deals withbehavioral issues from its students.
New task-force confronts self-harm stigma
Student BehavioralLeave o Absence(non-disciplinebased):
See SELF-HARM, pg. 2
ST. CATHERINE UNIVERSITY STUDENT NEWSPAPER
March 5, 2012 - VOLUME 79 ISSUE 10
This newspaper, like many other things, is recyclable.Online at thewheel-scu.tumblr.com
Opinion:2-3 features:4-6 health:7 sports:8
Whitby Hall, which has gone through many changes over the years between classroomsand dorm rooms, is in its last semester asa residence hall. By Fall 2012, Whitby willonly be used for academic purposes.Junior Lindsay Roloff expressed concernabout the changes.“I feel very sad about being a displacedstudent. I love my room in Whitby andI feel as though I’m being evicted froma place I really love and care about. My room is beautiful. [It] has the best view oncampus, a million dollar view,” Roloff said.“It makes me sad to know that next year it’llbe someone’s ofce.”Next year, the fourth oor of Whitby will
•Students react to finalsemester in Whitby
For Smedberg, this specic policy, whichcan result in a maximum consequence of expulsion, can be harmful for studentssuffering from mental or emotional healthissues.“The language allows SCU to expel studentsfrom the dorms or the entire University because of ‘self-harm,’” Smedberg said. “Whilestudents who engage in these behaviors needhelp and support, removing them from thedorms and their school, which is a student’sworld, against their will is not helpful andcould actually be very harmful.”However, Curt Galloway, Dean of StudentAffairs, believes this policy, which fallsunder Executive Authority, provides theAdministration with an alternative to theCode of Conduct when engaging studentswith self-injurious behaviors.“It allows us to work with students--particularly students that are engaging inbehaviors that may lead to harm to self or others--without engaging them in theCode of Conduct itself,” Galloway said.“These are serious matters. When dealingwith students with mental health issues, it isreally important [that] what we do is try tobe very supportive. As you read in the [Codeof Conduct] it’s often about trying to nd abalance where we can be supportive of thestudent and trying to help them as much aswe possibly can; and at the same time beingcognizant of the affects of the behavior onthe rest of the community.”Debbi Epperson, an alumnae of SCU whograduated in 2009, was directly affected by this policy during her senior year in 2008.“My psychologist recommended that I gointo the hospital to deal with some issues,”Epperson recalled. “One of my issues ishaving self-injurious behaviors and whileI was being treated for depression, bi-polardisorder and anxiety, I was also being treatedfor self-injurious behavior which manifesteditself as mainly scratching and cutting.”“One day a couple people from the residencehalls and a Dean of something came to thehospital and sat me down for a meeting,”Epperson said. “They said, ‘We might nothave you back. You might not be allowedback into the residence halls.’”While Epperson can’t recall the specictitles of the SCU staff or administrationmembers who came to speak with her in the
From the Code of Conduct: “Thispolicy has been developed from thephilosophy and ethic of care anda philosophy of holistic studentlearning and a deep commitmentto providing for the safety and well-being of our students.
Care for theindividual student, in the context of a Catholic liberal arts education for women, often requires balancing individual needs with the needsof the community.
This policy willbe utilized for situations in which a student’s behavior indicates a threatto the health and/or safety of self or others.
This policy allows theUniversity to remove a student fromUniversity property and programs(including the residence halls andattending classes) either immediately (interim leave of absence) or after an appropriate review process(involuntary or voluntary leaveof absence).
Appropriate effortwill be made to resolve situationsvoluntarily. Examples of behaviorswhich may warrant the use of thispolicy include, but are not limitedto:
unresolved, ongoing and serious suicidal threats; imminent threatsof harm to self or others; behavior which presents a reasonable threat to self or other (e.g. “cutting” behavior,expressions of self-harm or suicideideation, etc) and/or behavior that causes disruption to the community (e.g. residence hall, class, etc).”
hospital, she recallsvividly how it madeher feel.“I don’t think people understandand I don’t think people want tounderstand,”Epperson said.“Talking about thismakes me sad becauseI had a mostly goodexperience at [SCU]but this one thing--how the threeof them came toRegions [Hospital]to see me, like I wasdoing somethingwrong--made mefeel terrible. Here Iwas just strugglingwith a disease.”Stacy Symons,Psychology Professorhouse the Physician’s Assistant program.The decision was made by the University earlier this year.“This was not a departmental decision, itwas a University decision based on the needsand best options for the academic needsof the University,” Ben McCabe, HousingAssignments and Information Specialist, said.Students were also concerned about facilities’presence on the oor. Facilities began work in Fall 2011, which resulted in some of theWhitby residents ling complaints.“I was kind of complaining too becausewe’re not out yet, we still live here, we’rearound,” sophomore and Whitby ResidenceAdvisor(RA) Amelia Sneve said.However, once these concerns were presentedto facilities, they have not been seen on theoor since. The Residence Hall Association(RHA) will also be holding an open forumwhere students can meet and talk withfacilities about any concerns that they may be having surrounding Whitby’s changes.Whitby also houses the Honors Floor andthe location of the new Honors Floor hasnot been conrmed.“We have two plans; if the rst one is notapproved we will go use the second. I don’twant to get into specics that will only leadto confusion and additional inaccuracies,”McCabe said.Students currently residing in Whitby arealso receiving some benets. Currently denedas “displaced students,” they can choose theirhousing before the regular sign-up. This way they get rst choice for on-campus housingafter students who choose to same-space.But there are some concerns with CaecilianHall being the only upperclassman, traditionalhousing available on campus.“I know some people are very worriedabout having only Ceacilian as a traditionalupperclassman dorm because a lot of peopledo like that environment, so only having onehall will probably make competition a littlebit higher this semester,” Sneve said.However, Residence Life does not share thesame worry after considering the numbers.“After looking at the numbers and makinga few small adjustments to the housing sign-up process, we think we should be able toaccommodate every student who is choosingto live on campus next year,” McCabe said.Now that Whitby is in its last semester as aresidence hall, students are coming togetherto try and make the most of their time left.“We are planning on painting a muralwith our residents in the hallway. To...commemorate it,” Sneve said. “I don’t know if they’ll paint over it; I hope they don’t.”The oor also plans to have a session foralumnae who have lived in Whitby to visitand say goodbye.“We’ll for sure have chances for people tocome up and say goodbye, for the nostalgicones. I know I’m a little nostalgic already,Sneve said. “We’re going to enjoy our timewith each other while it lasts.”Although students understand the need forchange, it is still a difcult reality for some.“I understand why the administration hasmade this decision, but I do not like it. I willmiss living in Whitby,” Roloff said. “[It] justmakes me feel sad, and a bit abandoned.”Becky can be reached at
Graphic by Heather Kolnick.