The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Faculty discuss crises

What are the clear indications a student has an eating disorder,substance abuse problem or learning disability? As a professor, howdo you approach your student? Where do you draw the line whenintervening? Psychologist Dr. Juli Hobdy, from the counseling andtesting center, addressed these questions with Dee Siscoe, the deanof student life, yesterday afternoon during a roundtable discussionwith faculty.

This event, entitled “Recognizing Students inCrisis,” is one of the many programs this semester sponsoredby the Center for Teaching Excellence.

“This is the largest turnout yet,” said EllenLambeth, assistant of the Center for Teaching Excellence. Sevenpeople attended: three faculty members, one law student/teacher’s assistant, Pat Feldman assistant director of theLEC, Siscoe and Dr. Hobdy.

After Feldman’s light recap of the LEC programs availableto students wanting assistance outside the classroom, Dr. Hobdybegan by tossing three newspapers on the floor. Each had two thingsin common: a headline involving college students and tragedy.

Dr. Hobdy pointed to one paper and said, “We all knowabout the suicide at M.I.T.”

Siscoe and Dr. Hobdy echoed the opening statement’s sullentone by provided startling college facts and statistics.

Professors can identify college students suffering from seriouspersonal problems through their class performance. Drastic changesin grades, class attendance, hygiene and participation are a fewindicators a student is having a serious problem, explained Dr.Hobdy.

“Some students will be upfront, others will not. Obviouslyyou cannot assume, so you have to be careful,” said Dr.Hobdy, emphasizing the degree of caution faculty must use whenconfronting a student.

Bill Ford, who teaches in the Meadows advertising division,described a concern he had for one of his student’sdeteriorating physical appearance. Worried she had an eatingdisorder, he spoke with the student to express his concern, but shebecame defensive and denied having any problems. Ford’sapproach did not cross the line. Though he sincerely wanted hisstudent to seek help, ultimately it’s the student’sresponsibility.

Dr. Hobdy said, “I think it’s good you expressedyour concern. Most students feel better knowing someone isconcerned, whether they acknowledge their problem ornot.”

Dr. Hobdy warned professors that students’ friends willgenerally not involve themselves in each other’s problems.”Students don’t want to get involved in otherpeople’s business. They feel it’s not their place.It’s evasive,” she said.

When student’s display suicidal tendencies orself-destructive behavior, identified by peers, faculty or familySiscoe schedules an intervention.

One student was referred to the dean’s office afterreturning from Winter break. The student had an obvious eatingdisorder and needed to receive assistance, Siscoe said.

The dean contacted the student for a mandatory evaluation,requiring that the student meet with her or be expelled from theuniversity.

Siscoe said she always uses the evaluation as a last resort.”I only mandate an evaluation when I’m concerned with astudent’s immediate safety,” she said.

The discussion ended with Dr. Hobdy’s advice on howfaculty could create awareness: “Pass the word to yourcolleagues of the services available at SMU.”

More to Discover