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  • Writer's picturehayley cagan kamis

Could've Done Better

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

Based on a true story...more true than I choose to accept...

Dear University Staff,

I’m following up on a conversation with Dr. So-and-So from earlier this week. I asked him what is next re: the mishandled investigation of my college student’s formal complaint of harassment, threats, extortion and multiple violations of student disengagement (university-speak for “restraining order”) put in place last spring. He informed me that he spoke with his staff to discuss the matter, and concluded that this “wasn’t (their) finest moment.”

Dr. So-and-So further explained that the situation was exacerbated by the changes taking place in the department, "Dean Fired" leaving the university, and the passing of the case to (he couldn’t remember his name so I filled it in) Dean Can’t B. Bothered. He simply stated that the team “could have done better.”

Long silence. I guess it was my turn.

I responded with congratulations to him and his team for undoing the work that my college student, our family and a long-line of teachers have endeavored to avoid: the educational “falling through the cracks” of a student with High-Functioning Autism.

I shared my astonishment and dismay that his only response to the botched investigation of attacks on my child – whether it be due to the investigator not reviewing the evidence, not being given the information or not caring about it, and the resultant factually invalid and untruthful investigative report - is that it’s “not our finest moment.”

I hope he communicates my request to you that whenever members of the team look in the mirror, you think of the phrase, “not our finest moment”, and reflect upon how in one fell swoop you’ve managed to unravel a young man’s college experience and betray his trust in the institutions that create, demand loyalty to, but by no means enforce their own rules to protect “whistle-blowers”.

I expanded upon my curiosity that not one of you is mortified by the fact that merely pushing a student through school and assuring that passing his classes will result in a Bachelor’s Degree is the most the staff and “institution of higher learning” can offer a straight-A, highly intelligent and creatively gifted student.

I expressed my surprise at the suggestion that Public Safety will now be responsible for furthering my child’s academic success, in that it is either highly creative “out of the box” thinking, or further deterioration of your less than finest moment – and arguably your worst…excuse my error: your worst so far.

I noted that after 21 years, the university has finally managed to do something I never thought possible: achieving a TKO in this ridiculous, unnecessary, unprofessional and unethical game of “academic chicken”.

I reminded him that I never wanted to fight; I’ve always intended to collaborate with fellow educators to support students who learn differently, and to set an example of accountability and defense when these students are targeted with violence and manipulation. Instead, you schooled me regarding the reality of disconnect between the university’s rhetoric and the actual student code of conduct.

I then encouraged Dr. So-and-So to extend my suggestion that you pat yourselves on the back and give each other a high-five at your next meeting, because THIS is apparently your finest moment. I hope you’re proud of the work you’ve accomplished and the good you’ve undone, and that whenever you greet each other on campus with that familiar “wink,wink”, you’ll remember your role in setting an example of tearing students down vs. elevating those motivated to achieve their full potential.

After another pregnant pause, Dr. So-and-So responded that he understood. I noted that if he truly understood, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Silence again. Apparently we were done.

Just for the record, I do agree with one single point: you could have done better. And since you didn’t, the responsibility to do so now is still on the table.

Mouth shut. Your turn.

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