Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Legitimate Bias, or Not?

It's entirely reasonable for women not to prefer men ob-gyn's or massage therapists; is it reasonable for a veteran not to prefer a Muslim counselor?
Jeremy Rawls is a student at Mississippi College. He’s also a Marine, having spent two combat tours in Iraq. Rawls suffers from PTSD, a condition which affects many veterans.

The college just suspended him for a reason many, including Rawls himself, are calling dubious.

Why did they suspend him? Rawls requested to see a non-Muslim counselor as part of his PTSD treatment.

He discussed the situation with Campus Reform, noting that he was paired with a female counselor who wore traditional Muslim dress:
“It’s not that I didn’t want to participate,” he said. “I didn’t want to traumatize her and it wasn’t a good environment to be talking about [my disabilities] with that specific person.”
Rawls claims that his requests for transfer were continuously ignored, until he received a letter alerting him of the suspension:
“Their response was suspending me pending a mental evaluation which I provided and then they put me on further restriction and a reintegration program,” he said.
The letter also labeled the two-tour Marine as a threat to campus safety.


Jean said...

IIRC, you're supposed to be able to change counselors for any reason. Part of the whole counseling thing is finding somebody you feel very comfortable with and whose style suits you--though at a school the choice is limited, still must be more than one counselor. I can see where working through traumas related to living in a war zone in Iraq would perhaps not be easy to talk about with a Muslim counselor. He said right there that he's worried about upsetting her. I sympathize.

Steve USMA '85 said...

My comment is that we are not being told everything. With the facts provided, it does sound like a case of treating a veteran shabbily and with excessive punishment.

However, while the school hides behind the 'student privacy' statement there may be something to their actions. From the article, we do not know the type of service he saw, whether it was completed honorably, and what are the effects of his PTSD. If the student in question told the counselor he thought about going on a shooting rampage on campus, when then the school is probably right being concerned. I have a feeling that this is not the case, but we don't know.

Therefore, my judgement to condemn is withheld until more is known of the situation.

maxutils said...

There's no question … you get to change. Counseling does no good nless you're comfortable being honest with the counselor. M/F is relevant, as is being a reminder of the conflict which caused you to seek help.

Ellen K said...

Isn't it interesting how universities are all about "sensitivity" and "triggers" but don't see how after having spent tours where violent Muslim men were shooting at him, how a veteran might prefer not to talk to a Muslim woman about his issues.