Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ah yes, Earlham College, how could I forget

I went there and they royally fucked me over in virtually every way possible. You see, I suffer from bouts of depression. When I was at my first semester at Earlham I gradually became depressed to the point of being suicidal and had to leave school. When I met with the counseling office to arrange the leave of absence they didn't tell me the proper procedure to withdraw from classes. Instead, they only said that I needed to have an exit interview with counseling and to have documents sent over from my doctor. It turns out that I needed to personally deliver a notice of withdrawl to each of my teachers, plus file other paperwork, plus they lost or didn't get the paperwork my doctor sent. So I'm out of school and am recovering when I get a letter from them saying that I've been put on academic probation because I got no credit in two of my classes and a D+ in another, plus an inexplicable A in a two credit class. I was notified that I was nine credits behind and told that I should see the counseling office more often, and that the regulations are complex and to call if I needed help understanding them. Then I was sent a letter saying that my medical leave would be reviewed unless a doctor sent a note in explaining the need for it, verifying that someone actually approved it and that I wasn't making it up. So here I am, recovering from being so depressed that I was suicidal, with some other things going on at the same time and I'm informed that according to the college I'm faliing, that it's on my permanent record, and that it can't be taken off, the reason being because I didn't file the paperwork for leaving in the right way, because they never told me that I needed to file the paperwork in a certain way. What a wonderful ego boost.

One of the reasons for being suicidal was verbal abuse by my counselor John Newman, who I was seeing because I had a pre-existing condition that sometimes made special arrangements necessary for study. After talking with me a few times when I started having trouble he decided, in the face of intensive testing by a neuropsychiatrist that there was something going on, that I was faking it and was just lazy. His meetings with me became increasingly abusive as he lost his patience, and humiliated me and reduced me to tears on multiple times. After the last session I started to be outright suicidal, because, brace yourself, I felt that no one was listening to me and that there was no hope. I began to actively plan my suicide, which would have involved driving my car over the barrier on a specific overpass, falling to the road beneath. It was then that I decided to withdraw from school.

Because of the grades given me by Earlham I couldn't transfer to any other four year school.

Anyways, this is a good insight into the peaceful world of the Quaker College known as Earlham: manifest cruelty and incompetence, and I should say it also persisted in phone calls attempting to sort the whole thing out, towards a student who was suicidal.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought I was alone with my thoughts of the "gentle Quakers" at Earlham. My faculty advisor esentially wrote me off my sophomore year and was alternately abusive or incommunacative the next two years. His favored taunt was that I needed a father figure and had nominated him. In our meetings he would never say anything and communicated in facial expressions only. This led me to suspect the meetings were being taped. One of his favored expressions I termed the fecal aerosol expression - like I had just dosed him down with shit mist. Mean as a rattle snake this guy. He is now an emeritus professor.

John Madziarczyk said...

Sorry to hear that you had a similar experience. I do have to say though that in relation to the classes and to my fellow students that Earlham was pretty darn good. There was certainly a positive and engaged student culture, and the classes were on the cutting edge of current events. I remember I had a global economy class with a radical professor there who is an editor of "Rethinking Marxism", I believe.

But the administration, the counselor, proved to be less like the ethos of Earlham and more like a sort of provincial, right wing, school. There should be some sort of training that people who counsel students should have to go through and stick to, guidelines and such.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely hated the place. Lenny Bruse said, "I turned thirty and sold out like everyone else." The kids at Earlham didn't wait - they seemed born sold out or perhaps imbibed it straight from their mother's tit. I left at Christmas my freshman year. Word to those going to Earlham - the rat culture is fully deployed. If you trust administration you have only yourself to blame.

John Madziarczyk said...

That's sad. At least when I was there, there was a good political culture. Perhaps that changed.

William Bates said...

I went to Earlham in the early 80's and I think your problem is mostly cost based. Earlham liked to represent that they offered a bunch of programs and services. This was technically true. What was not represented was that most of these programs and services were severely underfunded, under staff, and staffed by under qualified (read low pay)people. It is very expensive to offer quality psychological counseling. Earlham's solution was to assign this task, usually, to one of the psychology professors. The professor, being under compensated and over worked, needed to limit time and effort to the work. Basically, it was one hour of time and "spit on it and run a lap" advice. Buck up soldier. You, unfortunately, were on the receiving end. Cost analysis is the key to understanding Earlham. Low paid professors, minimum wage workers, Quaker wives in the office (what the hell, hubby is the head of accounting at Perfect Circle), and scaled back amenities all lead to profit. Ever wonder why all the pictures in the college cataloque, thirty years ago when they still had them, were of white males usually in some active pose and all the administrators you dealt with as a student were low paid females? Ever wonder why the Director of Career Planning and Placement was a local business man and not a professional in the field? It may be minor, but revealing, that Earlham would never hire a qualified coach for the golf team but used an english professor when I was there. Kind of an interesting reversal of the hide great football coach in the history department trick. The one thing I believe about Earlham above all else is that the place makes one hell of a healthy profit - non-profit status be damned. It might help you to ponder the cost saving techniques used by US military with those of Earlham. Its no accident and should help you make sense of your experience.

Anonymous said...

Check out Dan Mitrione's career path and contrast with Richard Nixon's connection to Earlham (Bolling and Trueblood loved Nixon). Extremely interesting. Mitrione was pure evil. It may be a reach, but...