College Must Accommodate Health Emergencies

Goo Mattison, College sophomore

Editors’ Note: College sophomore Goo Mattison posted the following letter on Facebook on Jan. 25 and has given permission for it to be printed in its entirety. The recent dissatisfaction with Oberlin College’s health services has been a major issue on campus this year, with the Oberlin Mental Health Alliance communicating with the administration and the Counseling Center to improve access to resources for those with disabilities.

To the Editors:

I was debating whether or not I should publish this, as it’s fairly personal, but the importance of communicating the extent to which Oberlin does not care about the health of its students won out.

Before the week of finals began, I was doubting whether I could realistically finish the amount of work I had been assigned. I started right away, working three days nonstop without time to sleep, shower or even eat. I began seeing/hearing things, and my body was severely weakened. I realized the toll being taken on my health wasn’t worth it to finish in time. I requested and was granted an incomplete based on the documentation of previous health issues. I finished the rest of my finals to the best of my ability and took the limited free time I now had to rest.

Unfortunately, the night before move-out, after taking a dosage of my usual medication (for said disability), I fell unconscious. An ambulance was called, and I was brought to the hospital. As Mercy Allen Hospital did not have the facilities to care for me, I was airlifted by helicopter to a different hospital in Cleveland and taken to the ICU. I had stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated and intubated. My parents were called and told that their child most likely would not survive that night.

I woke up disoriented and in so much pain I was sure I had been hit by a truck. I was released two days after waking up. I could not shower or walk by myself. While recovering, all I did was sleep. Oberlin’s administration was notified of what happened, and my parents met with the dean of studies on my behalf.

While focusing on regaining my health and struggling to attend my Winter Term internship, I barely realized the date to turn in my work was a day away and requested an extension, explaining in detail exactly what had happened to me. They asked for documentation, which I provided, and my mother called the dean of studies to confirm my story. After hearing that I had literally died during the semester, in part due to circumstances created by the school itself, I was granted one week to finish the work I owed. This, of course, was told to me a day late, giving me only six days to finish the work.

Despite documentation of my disability, weekly meetings with Disability Services to manage and keep tabs on my health and documentation of my actual death just two weeks before the day, the school decided six days was plenty of time for me to recover and complete a month’s worth of work.

I can’t find the words to describe how I feel right now. I know it’s ridiculous for me to be shocked after witnessing and experiencing this school’s disregard for the well-being of its students more times than I can count, but being shown that actually dying still isn’t enough to receive adequate health or even sympathy has jarred me. For years I have been telling myself my disability is not my fault, but believing that to be true is so fucking hard when I keep being told that yes, it is, and that I need to be better than what I am.

I don’t know what to say at this point. To fellow students struggling, I know, I’m sorry, and you’re worth so much more than the way this place makes you feel you are.

—Goo Mattison

College sophomore