Summer 2004 Journal: Colleges Grappling with Emotionally Troubled Students

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BOSTON— More students are arriving at college today with emotional issues than five years ago, and there has been dramatic growth in the severity of the problems, according to the Summer 2004 issue of Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education.

“These students are creating a need for significant expansions in college counseling services,” according to a Connection feature by University of New England President Sandra Featherman.

Meanwhile, student pathologies from date rape to binge drinking to suicide have cast doubt on the emotional development of the college-educated workforce.

“Emotional intelligences—the way people interpret and respond to social situations, how they handle criticism or failure, the way they deal with emotions, their own and those of others—are critical qualities in the postindustrial workplace,” writes Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney. “What then to make of New England’s economic future when her college students respond to a Super Bowl or NCAA victory by torching the nearest car, when a large number of male students think the female word for ‘Yes’ is ‘No’ and when many students sink into depression and too many commit suicide?

Connection is the journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education—and America’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy.

Among articles in the Summer 2004 Connection:

Emotional Rescue • University of New England President Sandra Featherman explains how the new generation of troubled students present challenges for colleges. “We have seen a tripling of visits to our counseling offices in the last three years,” she writes. “Five years ago, we sent two or three students a year to hospitals because of suicidal gestures or ideations. By the middle of the second semester this year, we had hospitalized at least eight young students.”

Campus BuzzBrandon Busteed, founder and CEO of Outside the Classroom, a Newton, Mass.-based provider of online alcohol prevention programs, explains how alcohol impairs America’s judgment of higher education. The higher education experience encourages binge drinking, writes Busteed. “At the beginning of college, the typical freshman class is comprised of 50 percent abstainers and 30 percent binge drinkers,” he writes. “Three months later, by the end of their first semester, it looks drastically different, with 20 percent abstaining and 60 percent binge drinking.”

Predators • University of Massachusetts Boston associate professor of psychology David Lisak documents uncomfortable truths about campus rapists. “Date rapists are widely assumed to be basically good guys who, because of a combination of too much alcohol and too little clear communication, end up coercing sex upon their partners,” writes Lisak. “This image is widely promulgated, but it is flatly contradicted by research.” Lisak notes that “the first indication that an institution is courageously moving to end sexual violence is almost inevitably an increase in the official tally of that violence … not the kind of publicity that most college administrators strive to create.”

Education MayorMassachusetts higher education consultants James E. Samels and James Martin describe Boston’s Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s approach to workforce development. “Unlike his predecessors, Menino is not duking it out with Boston’s academic institutions over their tax-exempt status. Rather, the mayor sees these institutions as the primary magnets in a new metropolitan economy.”

Taxing Times for Boston Colleges? • Connection interviews Boston City Councilor-at-Large Stephen Murphy about his plan to change the way Hub institutions pay for city services.  “If you look at Boston police and fire call logs, very often student-related calls account for 30 to 40 percent of calls late at night … it’s tremendously taxing. Are you going to have a typical Boston homeowner in the middle of a riot at 2:15 a.m. at Faneuil Hall? Hopefully not. Do you have fire calls regularly at your house? Hopefully not. But the dorms do.”

Excerpts • United Technologies Corp. Senior VP of Science and Technology John F. Cassidy on progressive workforce education policy. Yale College Dean Richard H. Brodhead on developing habits of mind. Castleton State College Professor Jonathan Spiro on making a difference.

BooksCynthia Goheen of Five Colleges Inc. reviews The Two-Body Problem: Dual-Career-Couple Hiring Practices in Higher Education. Jane Sjogren, vice president for academic affairs at Mindedge Inc., reviews  Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education.



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