Saturday, November 19, 2016

Post Election Madness

In the aftermath of the Presidential election in America, college counseling services were besieged with calls for help for those in distress over the results. Students, faculty, staff, parents, and others who felt targeted by racist, sexist, and homophobic statements during the campaign were alarmed for their safety and that of their loved ones. When threatening messages were posted on some campuses it heightened and provided validity to the fear. Not that any was needed. For a few days, some students did not leave their living spaces for fear of being assaulted. At some schools, classes or exams were cancelled.
Post  Counseling centers advertised their availability in order to reach out to affected community members, which is a routine procedure for any service offered. Media reports then circulated about these events. Perpetrators of harassment and violence reacted harshly to the offering of help, decrying, in a nifty but irrational association, "favoritism" to one party over another, and chanting slogans like "Suck it up buttercup!" Some centers found themselves in the precarious position of managing safety concerns as their events became easy targets for miscreants in search of venues for their activities. A representative in Iowa went so far as launching an "investigation" into how schools spent taxpayer dollars on creating "cry baby zones". Some even suggested that students who were happy about the election results should also be served. Somehow, in the Twilight Zone atmosphere of the election, fairly ordinary outreach to verifiably threatened students was distorted and turned into both a political football and a means of further alienating or even harming them.

In this madness, one simple fact was overlooked, or rather trampled upon. College counseling centers exist to help students in distress, whatever the cause may be. Our job is, and always has been, to assist students and return them to ideal functioning so they may go about the business of learning. This we will keep doing, no matter how insane the world around us may be.