Cease blaming college students for the psychological well being disaster: A response to Ethan Hicks ’26

Cease blaming college students for the psychological well being disaster: A response to Ethan Hicks ’26

A current op-ed from Visitor Contributor Ethan Hicks ’26 claims that Princeton’s educational rigor and psychological well being drawback is merely “the value of greatness.”  This worth will not be proper — the value of greatness and excellence must be laborious work and dedication, not asking college students to sacrifice their psychological well being. Sure, some stress has been scientifically confirmed to assist efficiency, and whether or not or not it’s from lecturers, extracurriculars, or social life, stress could also be an inevitable a part of life. Hicks echoes the phrases of President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 who first implied that educational rigor shouldn’t be sacrificed within the identify of psychological well being. However, this option to blame college students for the campus psychological well being disaster deflects the causes of stress. We now have to put money into our campus sources, not solid blame on the scholar physique.

Let me be clear: I don’t assume Princeton ought to arbitrarily give out A’s to each scholar, nor lower the depth and breadth of the lecturers supplied right here, nor make assignments much less important. Princeton is difficult and college students who come to Princeton know that it takes laborious work and dedication to succeed. Princetonians wish to problem themselves and immerse themselves in an setting to push their mental limits. Many would additionally agree that educational rigor as an idea must be preserved; In actual fact, educational rigor is among the many issues that makes Princeton nice. 

Fortunately for us, educational rigor, together with troublesome rites of passage comparable to writing seminars and the senior theses, will not be, in my view, really on the coronary heart of Princeton’s psychological well being drawback. Somewhat, the issue is the dearth of accessible psychological well being sources and our general perspective in the direction of psychological well being. What’s the level of increasing campus when it’s clear that the actual development that must be accomplished is increasing psychological well being sources? The present limitations of Counseling and Psychological Companies (CPS) and the steps that must be taken to enhance CPS to be able to really meet the wants of Princeton college students have been well-documented. 

But, I’d wish to direct our focus to one thing equally necessary: the stigmatization of psychological well being on campus. Psychological well being, regardless of its significance, stays stigmatized, and the minimization of the struggles college students expertise is a step within the flawed course. Each Hicks and President Eisgruber blame college students for their very own struggles with psychological well being. Hicks means that “self-destructive decisions,” comparable to “[finding] ourselves on Prospect Avenue previous midnight a number of instances every week” while taking up a heavy course and extracurricular load, is what results in deteriorating psychological well being. 

Equally, President Eisgruber feedback on Princeton’s “work laborious, play laborious” tradition and asserts that if “‘play laborious’ entails alcohol or different medicine, it’s by far the riskier ingredient of that couplet from a psychological well being standpoint.” These kinds of remarks place the blame on college students for being overwhelmed, suggesting that decisions solely dedicated to having enjoyable are problematic reasonably than restorative. This perspective stigmatizes psychological well being points, inflicting college students to be ashamed for so-called issues of their very own making, rendering them much less prone to search assist. 

Nevertheless, for any profitable — and, maybe extra importantly, fulfilling — life, steadiness is essential. To many, the nights on Prospect are their outlet to de-stress. Extracurricular actions construct relationships that final far longer than their time at Princeton. Taking troublesome programs and setting bold objectives motivates many college students. Granted, everybody has problem with setting objectives and managing their effectivity. Many people do set difficult objectives. But, these usually are not issues that warrant blame or intense criticism, particularly contemplating that Princeton encourages college students to make the most of the bevy of alternatives outdoors of the classroom. The reply is to not make college students really feel responsible, however to supply the sources to enhance their time administration expertise.

Worse, the stigmatization of psychological well being and stress coupled with an insufficient help community creates a perpetual cycle of worsening psychological well being, during which college students need assistance however are unable to entry it. 

Even the at the moment supplied help focuses on productiveness optimization at no matter price essential, versus addressing the “take care of it” tradition; the emails we obtain about managing heavy readings or drawback units nonetheless heart on trivial recommendation. Princeton tradition says that the ends justify the means, and there may be at the moment no effort to rework this right into a motion to make acquiring a level truly mentally sustainable. No emails or 50-minute appointments can change a dominant perspective.

Any enhancements to the help supplied by CPS are prone to be ineffective until they’re coupled with efforts at destigmatization. In any case, it doesn’t matter what sources are accessible if college students are unwilling to make the most of them. 

Once we carry up our considerations about Princeton’s institutionalized limitations on supporting scholar psychological well being, we shouldn’t be accused of difficult the core precept of Princeton’s aspirational academic mannequin and that we’re on the lookout for an “easy-way out”, advocating for grade inflation or the discount of the standard of schooling supplied right here. But on the entire, complaints about stress and productiveness tradition haven’t requested the College to compromise its educational rigor; as a substitute, they’ve been pleas for help and understanding. 

Somewhat than minimizing these pure elements of scholar life as “self damaging,” sources should be allotted to assist college students with time administration and aim setting, by the McGraw Heart or different applications. Moreover, steps must be taken to destigmatize these struggles and affirm to college students that feeling overwhelmed isn’t an indication of weak spot, that wanting to speak to others about these feelings isn’t unnatural, and that it isn’t shameful to make the most of sources just like the CPS drop-in hours and the Princeton Peer Nightline. I’ve the next calls for for college students: Enhance outreach on an institutional stage to destigmatize stress and psychological well being. Make psychological well being and stress administration a core proper for college students right here at Outdated Nassau. Tutorial rigor and scholar well-being can and may coexist, particularly at an establishment like Princeton.

Justin Lee is a freshman from Toronto, Canada. He might be reached at [email protected].

Cease blaming college students for the psychological well being disaster: A response to Ethan Hicks ’26

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