Although Northeastern scores above its peer institutions on many metrics, there are systemic issues that are hurting students, such as overcrowding on campus, and inadequate staffing and training at University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS). In 2021, a Northeastern student started a petition that currently has over 6,000 signatures on change.org. The petition states that "students don't trust the university to provide high-quality care, so they instead suffer in silence."
In 2021, Northeastern partnered with the third-party teletherapy platform, BetterHelp, to better meet the demand for counseling services on campus. But as The Huntington News reports, BetterHelp has a poor record on protecting user data, and has "admitted to selling 'limited information' about their users to Facebook for targeted advertising."
Students and faculty working in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, or ISEC, pushed back against Northeastern administration last week after the university attempted to monitor their activity at their desks through occupancy sensors.
The sensors were then installed later last month without faculty or student knowledge, according to graduate students working in ISEC. Following the installation the night of Sept. 26, some who work in ISEC wrote an open letter to Luzzi and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs David Madigan, voicing their concerns about the study.
Dragon said she felt having the sensors installed in the cybersecurity lab was an insult to the researchers working there.
“Besides it being a massive privacy violation, and besides it being a thing that no students were actually asked about or consented to, there are people in that lab that study embedded devices and [have] published papers on how a bunch of [internet of things] devices are really trivially broken and have really bad security,” she said. “So it’s a slap in the face honestly to have the very same devices that we have papers on just put under everybody’s desk without any questions asked. It just doesn’t make sense.”
When visiting WeCare, Williams shared the extent to which her concussion was also affecting her mental health. She said that staff members there pushed her to answer personal and invasive questions about her mental health and the event surrounding her concussion, and she complied in the hopes of receiving the accommodations she needed. However, she had no idea that WeCare staff are mandated reporters, which is not explicitly stated on their website.
“Eventually, I did reveal the upsetting personal information because I felt I had no choice,” Williams said. “While a few of my professors were very kind, supportive and accommodating, others were not and one did not even respond to me. Because I had to reveal information I did not want to, and some professors still would not help me, it became very emotionally distressing for me to continue in my classes with those professors.”
WeCare and the DRC, Williams said, sided with these professors and told her that her best course of action was a retroactive medical leave of absence. She was lucky enough to receive a refund, but that policy changed as of this semester. Now, students will not get their money back if the same thing happens to them.
Like Williams, Buttke was also unaware that WeCare staff are mandated reporters. She had reached out to them after struggling in classes as a result of trauma, but when she mentioned she was working with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, WeCare staff reported the situation to NUPD, which she said discouraged her from seeking further assistance.
Last semester, as part of my narrative psychotherapy, I expressed the emotions I felt in my dreams and reality on Twitter, only to have them misconstrued by NUPD. As a result, they initiated Section 12 of Chapter 123 Massachusetts law, which mandates an “emergency restraint and hospitalization of [a person] posing risk of serious harm by reason of mental illness.” The university’s standard protocol is to conduct a wellness check to determine if this policy needs to be enacted. While the protocol is well intentioned, the way in which it was conducted was traumatizing for me. NUPD called to inform me that they sent seven police officers to my off-campus home so they could have me committed to a psychiatric ward because I “have a history of mental health treatment.” I am struggling to understand how a UCHS psychiatrist, who I had never met, is justified in signing away hours of my freedom during finals, simply because I tweeted about a dream.