If you've read my recent tweets and/or posts you know our family has been going through a nightmare situation. A mentally unstable student at my son's college has been sending him email and text threats, including death threats. It's a situation you never expect to find your kid in when you send him off to college.
My son is attending college on the other side of the country, over 3,000 miles from home, which makes everything about this situation more difficult.
Here's a little background:
• My son and Problem Kid (PK) live on different floors in the same dorm.
• PK is a foreign student from South America. He has no family here, or nearby.
• The threats to my son were unprovoked. That's not just my (mom) perspective, but also what's been determined by the university.
• PK has a history of psychiatric problems and erratic behavior.
• PK has a substance abuse problem.
• PK is currently on probation for threats he made against a teacher and administrator last semester. This is not the first time he's exhibited this type of behavior.
• My son has been staying off campus, with a friend, in an effort to stay safe.
• PK posted a sign on his door that said "Don't RIP xxxx" (xxxx being my son's name). I wanted to vomit when I heard.
• Shortly after posting the sign, PK had a Bible delivered to my son. I got chills when I found out. He's also alternated threatening my son with violence and inviting him to church. Clearly, PK needs help NOW.
• As a result of his recent behavior, PK is being ostracized by everyone in the dorm. I don't imagine feeling isolated helps his mental state.
• All emails/text messages, etc. from PK to my son have been forwarded to the Dean.
• The Dean has informed university staff, teachers, and police of a potential threat/problem with PK.
• It took three phone calls and two days for me to hear back from the Dean at the school. For that, I give the school a big fat "F" on their parent report card. (In fact, I didn't get a call back until I left a message mentioning we were considering transfering our son to another university.)
The Dean informed me they're working on moving PK to different housing on campus within the next 24 hours. It didn't happen by last night as expected. It will hopefully happen today. I agree with the Dean, moving PK is an important first step. It would be nice if my son could get back to his own room/environment as quickly as possible.
The Dean also told me PK is being evaluated by both a substance abuse counselor and a psychiatrist over the course of the next two days.
The psychiatrist evaluating PK this week is the same one who evaluated him in prior incidents. Maybe he/she will do a better job this time?
Once the substance abuse counselor and the psychiatrist have written their reports, the university "Threat Assessment Team" will make a decision as to what, if anything, the university is going to do about PK.
In the meantime, PK has been given a "No Contact Order" from the university which states he's not allowed to have any contact, whatsoever, with my son. He didn't follow police orders over the weekend to stay away from him, leaving me unconvinced he'll follow the No Contact Order.
My son has been given the phone number of campus police to call "if anything happens."
Somehow, that isn't very comforting.
The Dean told me he doesn't *think* PK will actually carry out his violent threats, but admitted he's not a psychiatrist and "no one can be sure." He told me they're taking the threats "very seriously," but from my perspective – they're not taking them seriously enough. The Dean has dealt with PK before due to prior incidents and said he believes PK "thrives on drama" and "creates situations so he can get a lot of attention."
He seems to believe that translates into violent threats but not violent action.
However, if PK wants drama and a lot of attention, wouldn't a violent act on campus give PK exactly what he wants?
How can anyone assume violent threats won't be backed up with violence?
Basically, it comes down to this:
PK is mentally unstable (everyone seems in agreement on this point) and has made threats to teachers, administrators and students on campus over the course of this school year. The university feels the best way to deal with this is to keep evaluating him every time a new incident comes up. The university doesn't, at this time, appear to be considering removing him from campus. Apparently they want to wait until he actually physically harms/kills someone to take action.
Do they need PK's tuition that badly?
I ask that question in all seriousness because I think tuition money for the university is one of the factors here.
Color me cynical.
I was surprised to hear the Dean had not yet talked to PK's parents. He said he planned to call them within 24 hours. "I've talked to them before, over other incidents" he said nonchalantly.
One thing is clear, the university is incapable of moving quickly. Also, the university appears unable to act decisively until/unless someone is physically hurt or PK has a gun in his hands.
I've told my son he can come home until this is resolved. I've told him he has our support if he wants to transfer to another school. He's afraid for his safety, but at the same time he wants to stay where he is. He doesn't want to "lose" a semester by quitting or transferring. His friends and social life are there; he doesn't want to give up the college life and good friends he's established.
Shouldn't the student making threats to others be removed? Isn't it totally backwards that the student receiving the threats must consider leaving for his own personal safety?
What's wrong with our universities?
And yes, I would love to hear from you if you work for a college and can shed some light on this for me.
My son told me he's concerned PK will come back and attack him at some point in the future. "What happens if I think this has been resolved, and he comes after me a few months down the road?"
I think that's a very good question for the Dean, don't you?
* You can read what happened next in this saga by clicking here. *
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