Dean Clarifies Mental Health Policy


Published: December 13, 2007

In light of reports that Anastasiya Andreyeva, FCLC ’08, had appeared increasingly troubled in the weeks preceding her arrest, The Observer spoke with Keith Eldredge, dean of students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), on the policies in place for dealing with students who demonstrate psychological troubles.

The Observer: When and how does Fordham intervene when dealing with a student who demonstrates a serious psychological problem?

Keith Eldredge: This is somewhat difficult to answer, because there are so many different situations that could occur and our response is usually based on the type of situation with which we are dealing. However, in a general sense, if any member of the community expresses concern about a student, we will have someone reach out to the student as soon as possible. Most commonly, a resident director or professional staff member in the Office of Residential Life, the security supervisor or I will speak directly with the student. If necessary, we will then work to connect the student either with emergency care or with Fordham’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

THE OBSERVER: Where is the line drawn between a student who may just need counseling and a student who needs to be removed from campus and evaluated?

KE: There is not necessarily a clear line here, as we often rely on the experience and training of staff in Counseling and Psychological Services to make the determination. However, if we become aware a student is thinking of doing harm to him/herself or another person, we will have the student evaluated at a hospital, but that is not the only criteria. In many situations, we focus on the student’s actions or observable behavior rather than simply on the words being spoken.

Most commonly, staff in Counseling and Psychological Services or I will decide if a student needs to be evaluated off campus. Outside of office hours, the security supervisor and professional staff in the Office of Residential Life are the primary point people, and they will be in contact with their supervisors, including me.

THE OBSERVER: What is the policy for resident students? What is the policy for commuter students?

KE: The process is the same. There might be a situation in which a resident student would be asked to stay off campus with family or friends while a commuter student’s housing would not be affected. But in terms of classes, the criteria are the same.

THE OBSERVER: If asked to leave campus, what is the procedure for a student to return?

KE: This also varies depending on the individual circumstances. In most situations, we are asking the student to seek evaluation and/or treatment by an off-campus therapist before returning, and we would expect to receive a professional determination supporting the student’s decision to return. In addition, students are typically required to meet with staff in Counseling and Psychological Services before returning, because our university staff is uniquely qualified to understand the campus environment at Fordham and the strains of college life. They can help the student and the off-campus therapist consider these special circumstances and discuss if the student is ready to return to classes and/or the residence hall. They often discuss plans for continuing treatment as necessary. The information is shared with me, and I usually talk with the student, and, when appropriate, his/her parents before I make the decision. I am also in close communication with Fr. Grimes and/or the student’s class dean. A student cannot return without the authorization of the Dean of Students, and there have certainly been times when a student’s request to return is not approved.

THE OBSERVER: Are Fordham’s Counseling and Psychological Services staff on call for these evaluations?

KE: If a student is asked to leave campus, the process that follows usually takes a week or more. No, the staff is not available all the time.

THE OBSERVER: If a student is institutionalized for a psychological problem, what is the procedure for them to return to campus?

KE: Each case is unique, but typically, we would again look to the care providers, in this case at the hospital, to document their support for a student to return and an indication of how the condition for which they were hospitalized has improved. Our staff in Counseling and Psychological Services would again review this information through their lens as the mental health providers on campus, and we would follow a similar process as outlined above.

I would also like to add that if any member of the community is concerned about a student, I would encourage them to contact me, a staff member in the Office of Residential Life—FM, RA, RD or central office staff member—the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, or the Office of Security.