“My grades dropped dramatically. My health completely changed. I lost weight.”
Let’s play, Progressive or Parody.
Some students at Brown University devote so much of their time to activism they are getting stressed out, and it’s creating mental health problems. (h/t @JeffreyGoldberg)
From the Brown University Daily Herald, Schoolwork, advocacy place strain on student activists:
Two weeks ago, the University released the final version of its diversity and inclusion action plan, which could not have been compiled without the exhaustive efforts of students throughout last semester.
“There are people breaking down, dropping out of classes and failing classes because of the activism work they are taking on,” said David, an undergraduate whose name has been changed to preserve anonymity. Throughout the year, he has worked to confront issues of racism and diversity on campus.
His role as a student activist has taken a toll on his mental, physical and emotional health. “My grades dropped dramatically. My health completely changed. I lost weight. I’m on antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills right now. (Counseling and Psychological Services) counselors called me. I had deans calling me to make sure I was okay,” he said.
I have a solution:
Part of what sparked campus activist mental trauma, according to the article was a column published in The Daily Herald last October, The white privilege of cows, which led the student journalists at The Daily Herald to add this disclaimer at the top of the article:
Editors’ Note: This column did not meet The Herald’s standards for writing and clarity, and, more importantly, contained several factual inaccuracies regarding biology and race that cannot be corrected without compromising the argument of the entire column. The column relied on the repeatedly disproven premise that race is a biological category. The Herald regrets the publication of the column. We apologize to our readers for the factual errors and offensive claims made in it and for the shortcomings of our editorial process. In an effort to be transparent about our mistake, we are leaving the column online. We initially made the decision to publish the column, as we generally edit opinions columns for style and clarity alone, giving our columnists great leeway in making their argument as part of our commitment to freedom of expression. We regret that decision and believe it’s clear that this column crossed the line from an opinion we merely disagree with to one that has no place in our paper. The Herald is committed to an accurate and thoughtful opinions section, and we are taking steps to prevent similar issues in the future. Though we continue to strive to promote a venue for the free exchange of ideas, we do not and will not tolerate racism. We invite readers to send responses to email@example.com.
In other words, some people strongly disagreed with the author of the article. The Daily Herald noted how the controversy contributed to mental stress among student activists:
David spent numerous hours organizing demonstrations with fellow activists [against the Cow Privilege article]. Meanwhile, he struggled to balance his classes, job and social life with the activism to which he feels so dedicated. Stressors and triggers flooded his life constantly, he said.
David turned to CAPS and reached out to deans for notes that extended his deadlines for assignments. These were helpful, he said, but acted only as “bandages” for the underlying causes of stress.
Justice Gaines ’16, who uses the pronouns xe, xem and xyr, said student activism efforts on campus are necessary. “I don’t feel okay with seeing students go through hardships without helping and organizing to make things better.”
In the wake of The Herald’s opinion pieces, Gaines felt overwhelmed by emotions flooding across campus. Students were called out of class into organizing meetings, and xe felt pressure to help xyr peers cope with what was going on, xe said. Gaines “had a panic attack and couldn’t go to class for several days.”
Hey, you know what also was stressful on the Brown University campus?
When student and community activists shouted down Ray Kelly:
And tried to prevent Michael Douglas and Natan Sharansky from speaking out against anti-Semitism on campus.