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Letter: A student tries to find help at UNT

Letter: A student tries to find help at UNT

April 19
15:54 2016

Justin Prieto

I am a student here at UNT’s main campus in Denton. I am currently a sophomore, and my first semester here was spring 2015. I am just about finished with my first full year here at UNT, and it may very well be my last.

In December I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I went through a severe storm, and there was no shelter. I’ve held a girl in my arms as she overdosed on sleeping pills. I’ve harmed myself. I’ve attempted suicide on this campus while severely stressed.

This should not be news to you, because I’ve told this to your offices — advisors, dean of students, financial aid, registrar, the Learning Center — and even some students working as secretaries, because your offices wouldn’t see me without detailed knowledge of what was going on. But every time I came back, you seemed to have forgotten about it, so I felt the need to remind you.

I first asked academic adviser, who actually helped. She told me my options, helped me know what I needed to find and get. She told me talk to the dean of students to get more information.

This was where it all fell apart.

The dean of students office wrote nothing down during my meeting, except the names and offices of more people I had to talk to, including the dean of my school. When I went in for that meeting, my adviser was there telling me it was not okay for the university to be sending me on a wild goose chase. My psychiatrist is in Houston, so I had to wait for my paperwork, which I was told was being handled.

In the first two weeks, I received countless phone calls and emails from UNT warning me of my failing grades. The two weeks turned into a month, and then the emails came from the administration and teachers. All the emails and calls were the same – you’re failing, you need to drop, you’re losing this much money because of nonattendance.

Here I was in a time where I already felt stressed and like a failure to myself and family, and you decided to call five times before 10:30 a.m. every day. During that time, I was taking the only class I felt confident passing when the semester started. And the whole time, you were telling me I’m failing all my classes. You wanted to speak to me in person, but the only appointment times available to me where during the only class I felt confident about.

This lasted about five weeks before I stopped answering or even thinking about it. What made the entire situation worse, though, was one night I blacked out from the stress.

I had not ingested or inhaled any type of mind-altering substance, but I was stressed from the phone calls, the meeting and the emails. So I went for a walk, and I walked past Santa Fe when a UNT cop pulled by.

I had some quiet rage building. I was reminded of all the standards I was supposed to live up to, reminded of the way I’m profiled by police because of how I look and reminded of the school constantly calling me to tell me I was failing.

The next thing I remember was being in bed crying, with a short suicide note written on my computer. My roommate was home, luckily, and didn’t see me take or do anything lethal. There is no evidence that I interacted with the cop at all, but for all I know, the police could be the only reason I made it home that night.

The only good thing about this experience is that after a month and a half trying to get some kind of help, the dean of students office finally put in some kind of record (notes were taken during this meeting) that I was not in a good place — or even a place in which I should be trusted with my own life.

I came to your school excited to learn and get a degree. I went to you for help because I didn’t want to fail out and thought you actually could help me. Instead, all that has happened was constant calls, constant emails, constant meetings, more stress, less desire to actually do anything and an even more growing urge to end it all.

Congrats UNT, you’ve broken me.

Justin Prieto is a public relations sophomore at UNT in Denton.

Editor’s Note: What follows is information from the university on how to find help and a list of ways it tries to help students.

How the Dean of Students office helps students             

–         When a student is in crisis, we have the ability to get the student an emergency evaluation by Counseling and Testing; connect student to a psychiatrist, work with their professors for missed work, connect to UNT and community resources.  So far this year we have assisted 225 students compared to 111 students last year in crisis.

–          Dean of Students office has assisted 862 students this academic year who have needed help with issues outside the classroom from car accidents to medical issues, temporary disabilities, financial, medical, housing, etc.  We have the ability to get students in to temporary housing both on and off campus as well as provide these resources on our website and a place students can eat every day of the week for free.

–          In Spring of 2015 we opened up the UNT Food Pantry –  to date we have had 973 visits from our students.

–          When a student complaint does not fall in to another university policy and a student needs assistance the Dean of Students assist students with their complaints.  This year we have assisted with 248 student complaints.

Additionally, the university reminds students about the CARE Team.

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1 Comment

  1. UNT Collegiate Recovery Program
    UNT Collegiate Recovery Program April 20, 13:44

    The UNT Collegiate Recovery Program would love to let students/families know that we are another resource here at UNT for students struggling with substance use disorders and behavioral/mental health concerns. Come check us out!

    Reply to this comment

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