Posted tagged ‘personal problems’

Please talk

July 23, 2008

Earlier this year I had the privilege of being present to support the launch by all the Irish universities of the ‘Please Talk‘ campaign. The purpose of this is to encourage students to talk to their friends, family, counsellors and faculty about any problems they may have. For many, a university can be a lonely place; before they get to us, they will usually have been in a school setting where much more attention is paid to them individually, and where social networks are highly developed. But when they get to university, they are expected to be self-motivated and autonomous; many thrive in that environment, but for some the transition is difficult.

Even later in their studies, some students may find that they are facing worries or concerns – whether in their studies or in their personal lives – that become a burden for them. The ‘Please Talk’ campaign aims to make them aware of how they can access people who will be able to offer them support and listen to their problems and issues. 

In fact, not long after arriving in DCU I took the view that being accessible to those who need help is a vital part of my role also. Every year I write a letter to all incoming undergraduate students to reassure them that if they need advice and support they will have access to help, and inviting them to email me directly if they are unsure about whom to contact. A number of them do, and I am usually able to get them in touch with someone who can help – or else I will talk to them myself. Similarly, university staff with personal issues get priority in my calendar.

My point here is not to suggest that I am doing anything special – it’s just my job. Rather, it is that we all still need the personal assurance that someone is always willing to talk with us and to support us during difficult times. Large organisations – and all universities are large organisations – have special responsibilities not to let anyone get lost in the system and find themselves in despair.

So, to be true to my claims, my email address is president@dcu.ie. Please talk.