After it became public that Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder before going on a shooting rampage, several universities looked into training faculty and administrators to monitor student behavior.
Although UM faculty members do not go through any formal training, Counseling Center Director Pamela Deroian, a licensed psychologist with a doctorate, said she encourages faculty members to notify her of “irregular student behavior.”
“Faculty have a different vantage point of what goes on with students,” said Deroian, who has been with the counseling center for 17 years and became director in June. “We’ve focused a lot on the English Department, specifically creative writing, and I’ve gotten calls from professors about several things to look into.”
Yes let’s do, let’s look into several things, beginning with Deroian, who, as a psychologist, holds the defacto privileged point of view, against which no mere English teacher can begin to compare, it being “different” from hers and therefore easily dismissed. The implicit question she’s avoiding is this — who better to teach us what makes people tick, the author of literature or experimental research?
Carson McCullers, American writer of novels and stories that depict the inner lives of lonely people.
BF Skinner, highly influential American psychologist, abandoned English literature to raise his daughter in a pineboard box.
About which she says, in her father’s defense:
My early childhood, it’s true, was certainly unusual – but I was far from unloved. I was a much cuddled baby. Call it what you will, the “aircrib” ,”baby box”, “heir conditioner” (not my father’s term) was a wonderful alternative to the cage-like cot. [!!!] My father’s intentions were simple, and based on removing what he and my mother saw as the worst aspects of a baby’s typical sleeping arrangements: clothes, sheets and blankets. These not only have to be washed, but they restrict arm and leg movement and are a highly imperfect method of keeping a baby comfortable. My mother was happy. She had to give me fewer baths and of course had fewer clothes and blankets to wash, so allowing her more time to enjoy her baby.
Back to the University of Miami, where Counseling Center Director Pamela Deroian, a licensed psychologist with a doctorate is busy
in the process of writing policy guidelines for the Counseling Center because there currently are none. Some other universities, such as Tulane and Emory, use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as guidelines.
Although involuntary hospitalization never happens outside the psychiatric system (except in case of unconsciousness or the inability to communicate), all states, including Florida, have “mental hygiene” statutes authorizing involuntary holds for psychiatric examinations. Florida’s law is known as the Baker Act. Under it, 25 UM students were hauled off to the psych unit last year on the word of a mental health professional:
One student, a junior who lives off-campus, said he was committed to Mercy Hospital for one night his freshman year in spring 2006. The student said he was no risk to himself and recalls saying he loved life while at the counseling center, but he thinks his disheveled appearance was the reason he was sent to the hospital.
“He sought help by professionals, but they didn’t help,” said his mother, who went to the hospital that night to see her son. “Instead it cost us thousands of dollars, aggravation and maybe even humiliation for [student’s name]. I wish I hadn’t been reminded of this horrible incident. There was a huge lack of human warmth.”
Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for Student Affairs, said the university errs on the side of caution when using the Baker Act, especially after Virginia Tech.
“If my staff determines a student needs to be Baker Acted then that’s the decision they will make.”
“I know that sometimes we look like the bad guys, but everything we do is in the best interest of the student.”
So there you have it. The design:
And the Vantage Point.