The passing of a family member and brief hospital admission marked my first two months at McGill. (Please keep reading, I promise I won’t regale you with a tale of woe here.) Thanks to an advisor at the Office of Advising and Student Information Services (OASIS), I was able to withdraw from courses or defer exams, finishing my first year largely academically unscathed. My situation was not unique – almost all of my peers have experienced some difficulty that was detrimental to their wellness. After speaking with more students, I realized that I was incredibly fortunate to have accessed and been supported by resources at McGill (OASIS, McGill Counselling, McGill Students’ Nightline). While a variety of on-campus services for student support exist, many students are either unaware of or are unable to access them for a variety of reasons. As a result, some students do not receive support from McGill and the challenges they face significantly hinder their ability to learn. (Read student testimonials here, here and here.) Continue reading Pedagogy x Support: An Up-and-Coming Collab in the Classroom
One afternoon last fall, I went to the washroom in the McLennan Library. Unexpectedly, I heard sobbing coming from one of the stalls. I bent over to look for the shoes that would indicate which stall the sobbing was coming from. I saw the shoes; I also saw a bum in jeans. Someone was sitting on the floor of the stall sobbing uncontrollably. I knocked on the door and asked, “Do you need help?” No response other than more sobbing. I knocked again. This time I said, “My name is Carolyn Samuel. I work down the hall at Teaching and Learning Services (TLS). Can you open the door?” There was no vocal reply, but I heard the latch click. Gently, I pushed the door open. She was a student. She sat sobbing and didn’t even look up when I opened the door. I asked if I could put my hand on her shoulder. She nodded. I was hoping the human touch would provide her with some comfort in what was clearly a time of despair. “Can you tell me your name? Your first name only.” She did. With some coaxing, we went together to my office. She continued to sob. I asked only a few questions. She was an undergraduate student from Toronto. It was her first semester. She felt she was falling behind. She agreed to walk with me to the Office of the Dean of Students. On the way, she stopped suddenly. Still sobbing, she blurted, “I can’t go! I have to be in class now or I’ll fall behind even more!” She was in no condition to go to class. With a little more coaxing, we made it to the Brown Building, where I left her in the hands of the staff at the Office of the Dean of Students.
Have you ever thought about what you would do if you found a student in distress on campus? If you’ve never thought about it, you probably should. Continue reading I came upon a student in distress