[Milton-L] Student referrals

shaw at ulm.edu shaw at ulm.edu
Wed Apr 18 11:18:12 EDT 2007

Sadly, I wonder if on some campuses three faculty members would notice--

And regarding how to determine when and how to intervene in the lives  
of at risk or risky students, it seems that we would end up  
intervening in a dozen lives to prevent a suicide attempt by one, in a  
hundred lives to prevent the actual suicide of one, in a thousand  
lives to prevent a homicide, in tens of thousands--perhaps  
millions--to prevent what happened at Virginia Tech.

It might help to crush through the "veneer of institutionalized  
compassion" and recreate the genuine compassion of authentic  
professionals in health care; it might help to perceive these at-risk  
and risky people as innocents before they become guilty and treat them  
as in need of care (in all senses of the word) rather than  
"intervention."  But truthfully, no one "system"--health care,  
criminal justice--can break through the vast chasm of alienation that  
leads to an act like this.  To so fully dismiss the humanity of  
others, this young man must have seen his own shredded.  I keep  
hearing others on television describe how "weird" he was--and I'm sure  
it's true.  But is that how he saw others seeing him day in and day  
out?  This child was Frankenstein's monster.  And I suspect that  
society is Frankenstein.

  The only way to successfully prevent something like this from  
happening again is to start now by making eye contact and smiling at  
the ugliest two year old on the bus--and I'm not sure that in many  
places in America one could do that without being perceived as a  

I speak as if I know something.  Like everyone else, I'm guessing.   
But so long as everyone is venting, I thought I might as well . . .

Julia Guernsey-Shaw

Quoting James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>:

> I think the most important thing to remember is that we can never
> create conditions in which something like this will never happen
> again.  If you can blow up a building with a van filled with
> fertilizer and other easily obtainable chemicals, even taking all the
> guns away won't stop these things from happening.  Someone who wants
> to kill a lot of people will always be able to do so with enough time
> and planning.  Colleges and Universities will be especially vulnerable
> because they attract intelligent people being educated (not
> intentionally) in the means of doing so.
> That doesn't mean we can't take preventive measures, but that means in
> designing them we should keep in mind the effects they have on
> everyone else.  My school adopted at the beginning of this year an
> anonymous reporting mechanism for at-risk students. In addition, we
> implemented a new honor code that -requires- students to report
> violations (or they become guilty of a violation themselves). Add to
> this a veneer of institutionalized compassion provided by the western
> mental health community and we're not very far away at all from
> Clockwork Orange or 1984.
> Big Brother loves you.
> I'm not saying we shouldn't do anything or make any changes, but we
> shouldn't expect too much from them, and we shouldn't be too
> aggressive about violations of privacy that foster a culture of
> paranoia.  If someone is perceived as a threat to themselves or others
> they can be Baker Acted.  I'd think more in terms of isolating
> individual threats than bigger changes that directly affect everyone.
> I think three faculty members reporting concerns about a student
> should be enough to require an interview with the campus mental health
> practitioner.  Things can go from there.
> Jim R
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