Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Discrimination against the odd-balls

Numerous posts on blogs and editorials in newspapers have been published in those last couple of days after the tragic events at Virginia Tech regarding how to recognize students, who are troubled, depressed, and live in solitude. Naturally all of us in academia scan through our class rosters in our minds, if there are any likely candidates. I am certain that the students are following a similar procedure. Hence, I am wondering, how many calls the local police, the counseling centers, the dean of students, etc. have received within those last two days reporting suspicious students on our campuses across the US.

Doesn't this ring a bell? Wasn't it very similar after 9/11, when airline passengers who fit a certain description would be searched extra carefully? Or when the mid-eastern driver of a delivery van was stopped for a random license and registration check? So my question is: will this lead to a discrimination of individuals suffering from depression, or students who don't quite fit the mold? I am worried, that students, who perhaps do not fit the mold, are trying to refrain from being themselves in order to blend in. And what about the quiet young freshman, who isn't very outgoing to begin with and is perhaps suffering from depression? Will the other students keep an extra safety distance from him? Will he hear suspicious whispering in every classroom he enters? Will this type of discrimination be necessary?

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