Friday, January 25, 2002

SUICIDE ON CAMPUS: USA Today runs this story on the parents of an MIT student who killed herself. They're suing MIT for not institutionalizing their daughter and for not telling them how bad off she was. I'm trying to figure out my take on this pundit-wise; the article makes it sound like the parents have a pretty good case, the girl went through months talking up suicide. But the girl herself was loath to bring her parents into her problems. Their lawyer poses these questions:

''What's the extent of the duty of a university to its students?'' asks David DeLuca, the Shins' attorney. ''Are they a community of surrogate parents, or are they a community of adults without any supervision or care?''

As long as the costs of college are so absolutely grotesque ($34,000 a year? Are you shitting me?) that parents pretty much have to pay for them, parents have a right to demand colleges take care of their proto-adult children. (Who probably are still adolescent in a lot of ways.) Whether the Shins have a case here is a different question. I think they do, because their daughter's therapists wanted her admitted as an in-patient but it would take a week to get her in; meanwhile her parents saw her the night before she set herself on fire and they had no clue. Maybe if they took her home it wouldn't have stopped her --but at least it would have been out of MIT's hands at that point. This case is probably also evidence for the need for institutionalizing people if they're obviously in the process of destroying themselves, as this girl pretty much was.

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