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September 24, 2018 | by  | in News Splash | [ssba]

Student Evicted for State of Mind

CW: Attempted suicide, miscarriage

*names have been changed for privacy
When Sam* returned from the hospital after her attempted suicide, she did not expect Cumberland Hall’s response, which was to kick her out.
She and her father, who had flown to Wellington to be with her, met with the hall manager. The hall manager, after asking her how she was, told her she could no longer live there.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “I’d paid for things, I’d every right to be there.”
She said that the hall manager had mentioned that the upcoming exams and the stressful hall environment were the reasons she needed to leave. The reasoning confused her.
“Other people’s stress is not my stress. I am my own person, I know what’s best for me.”
Her father, John*, understood the hall manager’s words differently. “She said Sam staying was risky for the other students. The fact that that there was an ambulance called to the dorms created a lot of drama, a lot of chitter chatter, they didn’t want that kind of attention in the halls. They said it kind of runs along the lines of health and safety. I said, whose health and whose safety are we talking about?”
Under the Student Conduct Statute, students can be excluded from a hall of residence if their misconduct “presents an unacceptable risk to the safety of students, staff, or property; or is likely to jeopardise the work of members of the University community.”
The Statute goes on to state that the effects of the action on the student’s “personal course of study and emotional or mental wellbeing” needs to be considered.
Sam said that having to leave the hall was extremely stressful for her. “I wasn’t going through an easy stage of my life, but they just made it harder.”
Sam had informed the hall of her pre-existing mental health conditions. However, she feels that the halls do not provide adequate support for the health and wellbeing of students.

Earlier in the year, she had a miscarriage on the hall’s bathroom floor. She said she “didn’t feel confident” talking to hall staff, and there had been “no address about pregnancy or anything – just a bowl of condoms”.
The university refuses to comment on the matter. When Salient first asked for comment, they responded that they “cannot publicly discuss” the circumstances of an individual student, or any details around a critical incident “which may or may not have occurred” in a hall.
The following week, we presented to the university a release slip written by Sam, giving them permission to publicly discuss her circumstances. The university’s response was identical, only adding, “We encourage Sam to contact the university if she has concerns about what occurred”.
John said he believes that the university needs to have more accountability. “They’re peddling a service they’re not providing…They should have put her needs first.”
Rainsforth Dix, Director of Student and Campus Living, said “our halls always operates in the best interest of the student and the hall community”.
Need to talk?
Free call or text 1737 anytime for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Youthline (for youth) – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)


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