Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"His name was Abel."

"His name was Abel," my student said as I walked him from our classroom to the counseling center. "He was Abel." Another friend killed by a drunk driver over the weekend. He had a name too, but I forgot. He wanted to check in himself, so I went back. The class was writing. I opened Donovan Kuhio Colleps's Proposed Additions, to "A List of Unwritten Stories About You." Number 1: "When you lived in Kailua as a young man, drinking with your pals, Papa Abel, your father, swiped the beer bottles off the table in the yard . . ." I put the book down. Opened a novel that arrived in the mail yesterday. The Story of Forgetting, by Stefan Merrill Block. I turned to chapter 1. "Abel: Once, I Fell in Love with Everything."


Here is an exchange of emails I had with admin. I do not find the unsigned response adequate. I also called someone at the Counseling Center and expressed my concerns that students were traumatized yesterday and, because faculty were unaware of a death on campus, we had no idea what we were walking into. She says she'll bring the matter up in a meeting . . .


A student in my 9:30 class asked to talk to me outside the class, so I went. He not only lost a friend this past weekend in a car crash, but he witnessed the death of a student yesterday at the dorms. When I mentioned the death to my second class, one student said he was a friend of her sister's and she hadn't heard from her.

I took the first young man to counseling myself. But it seems to me that all privacy rules aside, professors and instructors should know that they might have traumatized students in their classes after an event like this. They should be notified that counseling is available. I'm frankly a bit horrified that there has been no official word about this event.


Susan M. Schultz
Professor of English
University of Hawai`i-Mānoa
Editor, Tinfish Press

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Vice Chancellor for Students

6:53 AM (2 hours ago)

to me
Dear Dr. Schultz: Thank you for reaching out and and informing our office of your positive actions in support of one of our students. We deeply appreciate your efforts and thank you for helping us spread the word about the wonderful resource, Counseling and Student Development Center, on campus.

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Students

and my next email to them:

Dear Office of the Vice Chancellor--
My point was not to show that I had done a good deed, but to ask that you let us on the front line know better what we're facing in our classrooms. I've spoken with the head of the Counseling Center, who says she'll bring the issue up in a meeting. I hope you think of something--

aloha, Susan

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