The Rocket staff editorial underestimates severity of mental illness

Published by adviser, Author: Karleigh Santry , Date: April 22, 2015
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I’m writing in response to the staff editorial that ran in the last issue of The Rocket titled “Students abuse priority scheduling.”

In the article, The Rocket claims that students registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities often abuse priority scheduling and even goes as far to imply priority scheduling is the sole reason some students register with a disability, asking “What’s to stop a student who heard that students who register as having a mental illness get priority scheduling from going and registering as disabled for that very reason?”

I really don’t think you’re giving the Office of Students with Disabilities enough credit. Do you really think anyone can just walk in, claim they have a mental illness, and walk out with priority scheduling? That’s not how it works. In order for the Office of Students with Disabilities to provide any accommodations for students, they must have a legitimate diagnosis from a licensed professional.

The graphic associated with the article probably bothered me more than anything. While the article stated those with anxiety disorders have a legitimate reason for early registration, the graphic is a clear slight on those registering with an anxiety disorder. The graphic features a freshman student registering with a disability apparently called “I’m stressed out like all college students & yeah.”

There is so much wrong with what that sentence implies.

Saying anxiety is simply being “stressed out” is the understatement of the century. Yes, every college student feels anxious every now and then. That’s normal. Anxiety can even be beneficial at times, pushing you to spend a few more hours studying for an exam or writing a paper, but there is a huge difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder. It wouldn’t be considered a disorder if it were a normal thing that “all college students” experienced.

For those living with an anxiety disorder, their anxiety is irrational, persistent, and excessive. Writing it off as just being “stressed out” completely invalidates the impact an anxiety disorder can have on a person’s life.

The graphic also clearly depicts there being a problem with the fact that people with anxiety disorders are allowed to register early. Allowing students with anxiety disorders to register early ensures these students are able to succeed to the best of their abilities. Yes, it may mean a freshman or sophomore gets a highly coveted spot in Public Speaking. So what?

Did you ever consider how a class like Public Speaking could affect someone with an anxiety disorder? Public Speaking is stressful enough for any college student, but that stress is considerably worse for someone with an anxiety disorder. Imagine how much more successful a student with an anxiety disorder can be if they are able to take a class like Public Speaking with a lighter course load rather than a schedule full of 300 and 400 level classes. In all reality, an anxiety disorder may be one of the best reasons to get into a Public Speaking—or any class for that matter—early.

I understand the main point of the article was to encourage more regulation when it comes to priority scheduling which is something I wholeheartedly agree with. There are plenty of people out abusing the privilege to schedule early and it’s something that needs to be dealt with.

While I agree with the overall message, I feel like the article and graphic unfairly singles out those living with mental illnesses, specifically anxiety disorders. Honor students, veterans, and student athletes were also mentioned as possible culprits, why not use them in the graphic instead of rudely discrediting a real metal illness that affects millions of people?

I would hope that, in the future, The Rocket is more sensitive when it comes to dealing with mental illness.

Karleigh Santry

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