Can anyone advise about course changes for DD, Warning- may be triggering.

(22 Posts)
123LampsShade456 Fri 08-Jan-16 13:19:14

Hi there, I wonder if anyone can help.

My DD is doing a joint degree at an English Uni. Part of her degree was to spend a year abroad. She went to the other country last sept, was doing fine, though a bit homesick. About 6 weeks in, I had a very distressing phone call with her, she told me she'd got an STI and she just wanted to come home, by this point she'd booked herself into a hotel, still on campus and said she couldn't go back to her room.
To cut a long story short, I ended up flying out there and as she was in such a terrible state and after a week I brought her back with me. She absolutes hated the place and was scared to be on her own. The uni abroad gave her medical note to say it was medical reason that she left. (She had been to the Drs about the STI, they were concerned about her mental health and had advised she went for counselling and advised Anti Depressants, which she didn't take up).

Just after Xmas she told dh and I that she'd actually been raped, by her Resident Assistant. She had been on a few "dates" with him, but at a party he forced her to have sex and this is where she got the STI. She told two friends at the uni and they told her that because she was "on a date" it wasn't rapeangry. So she didn't do anything else about it.

Sorry this is so long!
She wants to drop the part of her degree with covers the year abroad and just do a single degree. Any mention of this country on the TV for instance, means she rushes from the room, she just does not want to continue studying it.
We have a meeting next week to discuss this with her Accademic tutor, however on the uni website it says if any employees, apart form a counsellor, is told about a rape, they WILL report it to the police. Dd does not want this to happen at the moment but how is she supposed to tell them why she want to change her degree, without telling them about the rape?

Thanks if you've managed to read this far!

Moonatic Fri 08-Jan-16 13:35:14

Really sorry about what happened to your daughter.

I changed my degree course for benign reasons mid way through, and, to be honest, it wasn't a problem. Basically told my tutor that I was more interested in xxx than yyy and, yes, I had thought about it and that was that. So, from that point of view, I think you may be worrying unnecessarily. People change courses all the time - for good reasons and for not-so-good reasons.

Your daughter could just say that she really didn't enjoy it in, say, France (or wherever) and had a bad time there which has made her decide she would prefer to continue her studies in the single subject. She doesn't need to tell anyone the full story if she would rather not do so.

123LampsShade456 Fri 08-Jan-16 13:49:32

Thank you moonatic.

Your post has made me realise that I missed out a vital piece of info! She has already emailed her Accademic Tutor and said she wishes to change her degree. He has said they only allow this in "exceptional circumstances"
I think she would qualify for this but would have to actually tell him the reason? Maybe she can say "I was raped but I'm not giving any more details than that as I don't want police involvement"

It seems unfair for the university to say they will involve the police, without her permission when she's been through so much already. It must put students off telling universities.

Musidora Fri 08-Jan-16 14:02:55

So sorry to hear abut what happened to your daughter, how dreadful for her.

Has she seen a counsellor - perhaps her university counsellor? They might then be able to recommend the course change to her academic tutor.

Otherwise as you suggest she should be able to say what happened but not give any further details.

These things often depend upon the academic tutor or whichever academic is responsible being a sensitive, sympathetic, and reasonable person - most of them are! Good luck!

Moonatic Fri 08-Jan-16 14:10:23

Could she cite medical reasons of a personal nature as her "exceptional reason" for course change, given she already has a medical certificate as I understand it? Or could she perhaps ask her GP to provide a letter saying that it would be in the interests of her mental health to change to the single subject degree?

Moonatic Fri 08-Jan-16 14:14:03

Reading the post above mine, maybe a university counsellor could provide a letter requesting a course change in the interests of your daughter's mental health? Or just saying that, in their opinion, it would be in your daughter's best interests to change subject.

123LampsShade456 Fri 08-Jan-16 14:25:36

I think I'll suggest that she says what happened but with no further details, then say we can provide the medical note from the university abroad, and if necessary letters from her Dr and counsellor (who she has seen at her home town for 4 sessions and has been amazing) about carrying on with the degree being detrimental to DD's mental health.

The Dr has put dd on ADs and sleeping tablets shortly after returning so that must be enough evidence!

I'm sure I am over thinking things, and hopefully the Accademic tutor will be sympathetic. It's been good to write it all down here as it's difficult to talk about this IRL, where I don't want to break DDs confidence.

Thank you very much!

123LampsShade456 Fri 08-Jan-16 14:29:30

Sorry x posted Moon she doesn't really want to see a university counsellor as she's seeing one local to our house, gets on very well with him and doesn't want to "start again" with a new one.

However, I'm sure the university will accept an independent counsellor's comments on her situation.

HildaFlorence Fri 08-Jan-16 19:50:41

She should speak to advice service at the SU of the university. They are very knowledgable generally , my ds had a problem and their support was invaluable in making sure he got the outcome he wanted from his dept .They will generally have a good handle on the regulations and documentation needed etc , they also set out what he needed to do in a useful document .

She doesn't need to tell them why she wants to change course other than the generic terms already suggested but they will be able to advise her .

FurryGiraffe Fri 08-Jan-16 20:03:20

Are you positive you have correctly understood the website? Is it definitely saying that any account of rape, no matter how connected to the university (or not) will be reported to the police? Might it instead be saying that if a member of staff is told about a rape on campus, or by a member of the student body/staff it will be reported to the police (as opposed to an attempt to use internal disciplinary proceedings)? It might be worth ringing the university student support office (or similar) to check.

I ask because it's so at odds with my own university's approach (I'm an academic- and incidentally deal with UG course changes), which is that anything told to us by a student is completely confidential unless the student indicates otherwise.

123LampsShade456 Fri 08-Jan-16 20:19:37

Unfortunately I haven't misread the website Furry
It specifically says that "any crime" will be reported to the police and therefore any meetings with university staff are not confidential if discussing a crime.

Hilda I'm glad your son got his problems sorted, thanks for that advice. I think we will have the planned meeting with the Academic tutor and if she doesn't get the outcome she wants, we will then go to the SU or the student Advice centre. She seems keen to speak to as few people as possible and is hoping the Academic tutor will sort it, but if he doesn't she will have to speak to others.

FurryGiraffe Fri 08-Jan-16 20:27:25

I'm really sorry to hear that. It sounds a bonkers policy to me and, as you say upthread, bound to put people off speaking to university staff- particularly in relation to rape and sexual assault.

I hope your DD gets the outcome she's after. If her tutor isn't helpful, then definitely try other avenues within the university.

HildaFlorence Fri 08-Jan-16 20:29:40

Depending on how your daughter worded her email the academic tutor may just be responding on the basis that that she is just having a wobble in the way that lots of students do at this stage of a years abroad.He possibly in fact probably, hasn't realised how serious this is .

Your presence at a meeting will hopefully make him realise that this is a slightly more serious problem and you may find he is able to advise accordingly .

MultishirkingAgain Fri 08-Jan-16 21:21:35

I think I can see both sides of this - while university staff aren't in loco parentis they are ethically bound to take some sort of action if a student discloses that they've been a victim of serious crime. (And I've lost count of the threads in here complaining that tutors don't "care" enough). Personally, I think rape should always be reported, but I also understand why anyone would not want to. Could she use language such as "assault" rather than rape or sexual assault when she sees her tutor? Ina situation like your DD's I'd probably ignore my university's guidelines and keep her confidence, while urging her strongly to do something about it. I'd probably have to answer for that in the end, but one does need to keep things confidential.

I think your DD really does need to see the University counselling service, as - if given permission to speak on her behalf - they can help your DD with a course change. It may just be for 1 or 2 sessions. It means that should she need further help or mitigation, the record is there, and there are people on her case and supporting her. And she'll be familiar with the service & the practitioners and processes.

In my experience, sometimes students can feel that they're coping with a huge issue, and they do, just about. But then they crumble when there's extra pressure: final year dissertation or final exams, and so on. Better that there's some sort of record of her awful experience, so if she does have a crisis moment, she's not having to approach student counselling for the first time.

Could your DD also think about the young women who will follow her? If the Resident Assistant in the other country makes a habit of sexual assault (it was rape - there's no such thing as "date rape" in law), then she won't have been the first he's assaulted, nor will she be the last. Both her university and her host exchange university should know that there's a risk of sexual harassment and/or assault for their students. Bastard.

123LampsShade456 Sat 09-Jan-16 09:36:02

Multi, I do hope the university will take account of the fact she's already seeing a therapist. As I said she really doesn't want to go through everything again with a new person but I do understand that the university counsellors will know processes etc.

I can assure you that she is very concerned about other women in her situation. She wants to report him and would have no hesitation if it had happened in the UK. As it is not UK or Europe we are unfamiliar with laws etc and until we get proper legal advice I am advising her not to identify him to the university. We need to know what will happen if she does name him.

MultishirkingAgain Sat 09-Jan-16 12:38:09

Bakeoff then we would need evidence from her current therapist. It's not enough for the student simply to tell us. Your DD may be honest, but sadly, not all students are. And part of the problem is that these things take time, and if students don't come to us till it's a crisis, then time is what we don't have.

123LampsShade456 Sat 09-Jan-16 16:49:42

Sorry I don't think I made it clear on my OP, Dd is not at uni at the moment. After this incident abroad, she got permission to leave the uni because of "medical reasons" (they actually wrote that she was suffering from stress as she hadn't told them the real reason).
The year abroad was an extra year, so she would have done 4 years altogether. She is due to restart her degree in Sept, but wishes to go to move to the single rather than joint degree.

So if evidence is required from the counsellor we will have plenty of time. smile

anonacademic Sun 10-Jan-16 12:44:56

Discussed this with DH who is in the kind of role that the academic tutor you're meeting to would probably be reporting to on this. A few thoughts:

- Despite what the policy says, it seems extremely unlikely that the tutor would report to the police against your DD's wishes. Hard to say without seeing the wording, but it may be that it's largely there to make clear that if a student says something that makes clear they've committed a crime they may be reported to the police!

- Our university at least is good at taking exceptional circumstances into account, but we do need to know what the exceptional circumstances are.

- You might want to think about whether DD's academic tutor is someone who deals with exceptional student problems a lot or just a normal academic who's in this role for a few students as 1% of what they do. If the latter, it might be better all round to meet with the Senior Tutor or whatever the corresponding role name is, rather than, or along with, your DD's own tutor, in order to be able to get access to more expertise. You might consider emailing in advance along the lines of "We need to talk about something very sensitive that has potentially serious implications for the university"...

- It's very understandable that your DD does not want to report to the police, but the university will naturally not want to be putting future students at risk, and indeed, would be in all kinds of ethical and perhaps even legal difficulty if it did so. DH suggested that he'd pass this information (without DD's name, but with the foreign university's name) up the UK university's hierarchy for more senior people to consider what to do. If they talk to the foreign university, though, the likely outcome would be "we can't possibly take action such as removing our staff member from their position on the basis of an anonymous allegation", and quite understandable too. So then perhaps the university withdraws from the cooperation, but that's a serious step... If future students were to be sent there, DH says he'd want to talk to them and say something like "I can't tell you details but a previous student who went there had a very bad experience with a staff member." That's not a good outcome either, since obviously your DD wouldn't want details given but the later students would want details.

Good luck. I hope the people you talk to next week are helpful.

MultishirkingAgain Sun 10-Jan-16 13:19:50

Absolutely second anon's advice & her DH's likely actions, except that I wouldn't advise you to go straight to the Senior Tutor. Universities have processes for (usually) very good reasons, and it's best to respect that. A student's Personal Tutor can be a very active advocate for an individual student (well, I know I have been with various students who've needed someone on their side) and Senior Tutors tend to be involved in disciplinary matters.

If the course change can be done without too much escalation up that might be good for your DD at the moment. But I think the final points anon makes about the future of the exchange are pertinent.

It's tricky - a student in this situation is already suffering, and any pressure to do something she doesn't want to do may feel like loss of consent all over again (although rationally, it isn't, but she may feel it is). Could she call Rape Crisis or Woman's Aid for confidential advice about these bigger issues?

Good luck. If I were her tutor I'd be doing what I could to help, and would probably ignore any university policy about reporting to police. (For a victim - possibly not for an alleged perpetrator ...)

123LampsShade456 Sun 10-Jan-16 14:15:38

Thank you both.

Yes, I think we will stick with the appt with her Academic tutor next week and will make further plans depending on what is said and done at that meeting.

I am also going to suggest a meeting with a Student Advisor who do keep information confidential and may be able to advise re reporting in a way dd can remain anonymous. It's so difficult, I know dd is having sleepless nights over what to do about him. She wants to protect others but does not want police involvement.

Notsoskinnyminny Sun 10-Jan-16 18:50:38

What a horrible situation for your family, I hope the meeting next week goes well and you get the outcome that's best for your DD.

Out of interest why does you she want to change courses? I only ask as mine is doing a joint honours and is currently on her year abroad but the grades for this year, thankfully as she's struggling with the teaching methods, don't count towards her degree and when she comes back for her final year she can decide which subject to major in for her dissertation, etc. If she opts for her other subject her timetable will be weighted towards that subject and she'd have hardly any contact with the language dept.

123LampsShade456 Mon 11-Jan-16 10:46:29

NotSo, my DD's course is unfortunately set up very differently to your DDs. The marks are split 50:50 next year.
Thanks for your good wishes.

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