Dear ANU

TW: Suicide, sexual assault

Dear ANU,
If I wasn’t kicked out of one of your residential colleges onto the streets in the middle of the year for being psychiatrically unwell after being sexually assaulted on campus, I would’ve felt a bit loved and perhaps slightly cared for. I went to the psychiatric ward after my suicide attempt, confused and terrified. Nobody called, texted, or emailed me while I was practically locked away against my will.
I attempted suicide again a few weeks later, because I felt lonely in a world where nobody seemed to care. When I came back from the hospital this time, my room was locked, and my access card was deactivated. Upon further investigation, it turned out my contract had been terminated because I was causing “unnecessary stress to other residents” – this was in despite of the fact that I barely left my room in the few weeks prior. I had to live in my car for a while after this, and I haven’t heard from anyone from the college I used to live in since then. There was no “How have you been?” or “Where are you living?”. There was no communication. It was as if I was some sort of infectious disease that would spread upon contact. The rumours soon started to circulate around the residence, and by now, almost every single person knows that I tried to take my life and has thus decided not to talk to me any more.
But thanks ANU, you know, genuinely. I have now got a beautiful puppy, who will become a psychiatric service dog one day. I went through some aggressive operations to alleviate some of my life threatening symptoms. None of this probably would’ve occurred if I wasn’t kicked out, but then perhaps none of it would be much of an issue if I wasn’t either.
An unloved resident.

Dear ANU,
A few weeks ago I told my lecturer that I had tonsillitis and had been living in my car for a number of weeks, and that these were two substantial barriers preventing me from getting my essay in on time. The lecturer that you have employed responded by looking awkward, asking for a medical certificate, and walking away as quickly as possible.
So, my dearest university, perhaps you could train your staff to refer students to the appropriate support services, and teach them how to respond to students who disclose necessary, but potentially uncomfortable information. Sure, I may have made the lecturer feel awkward in that moment, but it pales in comparison to living in one’s car.
Yours sincerely,
The arts student who hoped for more.

Dear Stalkerspace,
Stop using the term ‘triggered’ as a joke.
I am survivor of multiple incidents of trauma. Consequently I have PTSD. I battle every day to come to university. Being triggered is not a joke. It happens to me daily, most commonly by being surprised. Your throw away lines are hurtful and deny the power of my experiences.
Please, stop.
Sincerely, fed up Law student.

Dear ANU,
How do you expect your students to get timely documentation of mental health problems for extensions and special consideration, when your wait times between appointments are six weeks during term time? Most counsellors have a specific day that they do drop in appointments, so if you need documentation on any other day and you see someone else. Not only does this mean you forfeit your next appointment (if it’s in the next two weeks) but you therefore cannot get documentation specific to your issues, just a letter of attendance. So much for you supporting students. And this is without even mentioning how hard it is to receive adequate treatment for an ongoing issue with six week breaks in between sessions. But you “take disability and mental health really seriously.”
Sincerely,
Someone who is sick of being unsupported when actively seeking help.

Dear ANU,
I want to thank you for giving me an Education Access Plan. For the most part it has helped immensely and allowed me to engage with my coursework while living with crippling anxiety and depression. What wasn’t so great was when I was asked to walk to the front of the lecture hall, in front of my cohort of 200 students, in order to be taken to a separate room for an examination under modified conditions. As it turns out, getting stared down and whispered about before an exam isn’t conducive with good anxiety management. Please teach your staff a little more tact and understanding when it comes to dealing with mental health problems.

Disappointed Science Student.

Dear ANU,

Living with a mental illness and studying is hard enough – is it super necessary to make it harder? Nothing makes me more anxious than a Lecturer insisting that everything in the lectures is assessable and then not finishing their lecture before the Echo recording cuts them off. This isn’t an issue for students who are able to make it to the lecture, but I can’t. I panic every time this happens because what if the content of the last two minutes you failed to record is on the exam? The solution from the lecturers: attend the lectures. Yeah, because that helps me. Why can’t the lecture recording be pre-programmed to go for 5 minutes after the lecture is supposed to end, so the lecturer can aim to finish on time and I get to go a week without a panic attack?
Sincerely,
Eternally anxious listener.

Dear ANU,

Your policy of overselling parking spaces means I often have to make a choice between risking a parking fine, and walking so far as to use all the energy I have for the day.

No love,
Me.