Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Students, rocks and hard places...

.. and, why we need national healthcare...

I met with X yesterday--

X was doing well in class, but dropped off the face of the earth for about a month. S/he's missed an exam and some reading quizzes -- hir average is 33%...

I advised X to withdraw from the class.

X told me that hir absence was due to mental health issues. If s/he withdraws from class, s/he isn't a full-time student and then would lose access to hir health insurance -- which s//he needs to get hir medication.

I told X that I treat mental illnesses in the same way as I treat physical illnesses, transportation problems, work conflicts or childcare issues. All of these things are barriers of varying heights --and sometimes students' lives just don't go along with class. Sometimes students get serious illnesses during classes - that's a fact of life and, unless I have some documentation saying X was unable to complete coursework during that time -- I can't make an exception for her and not for the person who had transportation or childcare issues.

X has decided to keep going and take the F if necessary, in order to keep hir health insurance.

So, in order to keep her mental health, she needs to sacrifice her GPA.

So -- a condition that can, reasonably keep someone out of class also requires them to be IN class in order to get the treatment necessary.

This is almost as bad as the binds some patients get into -- their illness makes getting to work hard, but if they lose their jobs, they lose their health insurance.

Since insurance is like a bizarre club --when, if you have a pre-existing condition -- you can only change insurance if you currently HAVE it, we put some people in impossible situations.

Really -- this student shouldn't have to be in this hard place.


dseltzer said...

So, on the pragmatic level, if this person can give you some documentation of the illness (from a therapist, perhaps), would you give them an Incomplete and allow time to make up the missed work?

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Yep -- that's part of my policy. She'd need documentation saying she was unable to do the work. I've done it for both mental and physical illness in the past.

One of the nice things about having all the assessment on-line is that I don't have to draw the "X couldn't be ON CAMPUS" line anymore -- rather, the question is whether or not they were they able to log in to take the weekly quizzes and occasional exams?