Monthly Archives: November 2012

My column on the stark underfunding of the counseling center

So of course, I’m crazy excited about the election. But I’m going to write more about this when I post the link to the latest WPTS on the Radio discussion, in which my fellow columnists and I were asked, “Does the Republican Party have any hope of getting back the youth vote?” My answer: “Probably not without changing practically everything they stand for.”

But for now, this column. I am proud of this column; I wanted to write it over a year ago and was repeatedly blocked from bringing it to fruition.

I don’t have a lot of reporting experience, and it was very awkward for me to interview Counseling Center representatives for a piece that was ultimately about their failure to meet student need for services. But I hope they (and readers) realize aspersions aren’t being cast on them – they don’t decide how much funding they  get – but on the people at Pitt who decide how the money is used. In short, the Counseling Center is the rugged hero of this story, not the villain.

The Talk About It program, whose very success is likely reflected in the increased demand for services, becomes a cruel joke when sufferers who decide they do want to talk about it learn that they’ll have to wait until next month. Outreach is no substitute for treatment, and Pitt has talked too much talk about promoting mental wellness on campus to fail to provide for its students in this area.

To Meet Increased Demand, Counseling Center Needs More Resources


Stiff Upper Lip

Election Day is in 48 hours and I’m anxious.

I’m having a party on Tuesday night – a feelings-drinking party, champagne if Obama wins, your personal sad drink if Romney wins, with the exception of my one Republican friend. Last night, drunk, I told my friend Mike that if Romney wins, he’ll want to leave right away. He won’t want to see me. I promised weeping and wailing, sobbing in the streets. I meant it, too.

I went to bed and dreamed about not being able to vote, about standing in line juggling weird forms in an office that looked like my high school. I dreamed that Bush won somehow and I sat at a desk frantically calculating how that could possibly happen because he’d definitely served too many years already to run again. I woke up irritated.

This morning I asked my mother who she was voting for, out of curiosity. My mom is one of those low-information voters we talked about on the radio last week. She told me it was none of my business.

“OK,” I said, surprised by this reaction from the least confrontational person I know. “You don’t have to tell me. I was just wondering.”

“I don’t have to tell you?” Now she’s surprised. Now we’re in familiar territory; she expects to be bullied.

“No, of  course not. I was just wondering.”

“I don’t like either of them.” She blurts out. “I might just go eenie-meenie-miney-mo.”

“Oh God,” I said, “don’t do that. You can vote for Romney if you really think he’s the better choice, but don’t throw it away.”

Now that I’ve given her permission, she tells me; she’s voting for Romney. OK. Deep breath. “OK. Cool. I was just curious.”

I think some unkind, unfair things. My mom has voted the same way as the man in her life – first my dad, now the equally-conservative boyfriend Nick – for as long as I can remember. Last year Nick went Obama for no discernible reason, and Mom did too. Now Romney. OK.

I think back to 2004, when my dad learned his mom was voting for Kerry and threw a hissy fit. I remember him in our kitchen, pacing with the cordless phone, screaming at her. He said if Kerry wins, he’s moving our family to Texas. His mom probably laughed at him – Kerry will still be president in Texas. She wasn’t fazed. She was the kind of mother who let him hold his breath in the grocery store until he passed out, and this wasn’t any different. But at 13, I was petrified. I don’t want to go to Texas! I’d have never seen my school friends again.

I silently, briefly, obnoxiously congratulated myself on being more mature and respectful towards my mother at age 21 than my dad was in his 40s, then pulled my shit together. Dad didn’t move us to Texas when Obama won, and he didn’t do any weeping and wailing that I witnessed, though sometimes if we’re fighting he’ll yell at me for making Obama president even though I was 17 during that election and couldn’t vote.

But frankly, those kinds of dramatics do nothing for anybody – and would certainly have been inconsiderate to my one Republican friend, who is attending my party because I told him he was welcome. If Romney wins, I will tell people it’s going to be OK. We’re going to be OK. As honestly as I think a Romney presidency would suck for me and most of the people I care about, we’ve all been through things that sucked. I will try to be very stereotypically British about it. I will nurse my hangover with some tea. I will take up meditation and watch the news selectively and work very hard to donate a little money to the places that will be hurting for money if Romney wins the presidency, and the world will not be over and we will all keep calm and carry on.

New Pitt News column about Crisis Pregnancy Centers!

In a valiant and reluctant show of moderation and not-libeling-anyone, I changed my thesis for this piece over the course of a month from “Crisis Pregnancy Centers are Creepy and Should Go Home” (still my personal opinion) to “Pitt Needs To Do Research Before Recommending Sexual Health Clinics (Including CPCs).”

I felt really guilty writing this, because the lady I spoke to from the Women’s Choice Network was actually very nice on the phone, but the things I’ve heard from some people who went to her clinic are not nice at all. Also, not sure if I did a good enough job stressing that contrary to what they desperately want you to think, the Women’s Choice Network offers literally nothing in the way of tests, pre-natal care, options and post-abortion counseling that you cannot get from Planned Parenthood, except for a strong anti-abortion spin factor.

The stated purpose of the medical clinics behind is to “help you get all the facts before you decide whether an abortion is right for you.” For the clinics behind, their goal is to “empower abortion-vulnerable women to choose life.”

To me, those sound like two different missions, and Women’s Choice Network — the organization represented by both websites — sounds like a misleading name for an organization whose ultimate goal is to convince women to carry their pregnancies to term. But Amy Scheuring, the clinics’ executive director, says there’s nothing deceitful about her clinics.

Pitt Student Health’s Referrals for Reproductive Services Need Standards