The girl who didn’t cry wolf
Published: Sunday, January 16, 2011
Updated: Sunday, January 16, 2011 15:01
When someone tries to make us do something we strongly object to doing, it's not surprising if we go kicking and screaming.
For one former student at Brooklyn College, this scenario was an all-too-devastating reality, and as of this month she has filed a lawsuit to make sure something like it doesn't happen again.
Sophia Chinemerem Eze, an honors student from Nigeria studying in New York, was committed against her will into a psychiatric ward at a local hospital.
School officials began to suspect something was not quite right with Eze in 2008, during the fall semester of her second year.
The worried student went to campus security, telling them she suspected that her landlord had hid a camera inside her bedroom and that she had been told her roommates were defaming her on the Internet.
Although no images have been found of her on the Internet, her lawyer did state that a hidden camera was found in her bedroom.
Eze approached campus security because she was afraid of the police.
After raising her concerns with the campus police, they requested an examination from one of the psychological counselors at the college.
According to the lawsuit, the counselor asked her questions to discern her state of mind and mental health and Eze's answers indicated she was mentally sound.
Regardless, emergency services were called and Eze was "forcibly led into an ambulance," the lawsuit stated.
Upon arriving at the psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital Center, Eze was "tricked" according to her lawyer, into signing herself in.
Eze was told by the examining doctor that she could either sign herself in or the doctors would be forced to commit her against her will, with the latter resulting in a longer stay.
It would be another two weeks before Eze was released from the hospital.
The student won a $110,000 settlement from the corporation that runs the hospital she was admitted to, and now she is seeking justice for the school's role in sending her to the psychiatric ward.
Mental health is a touchy subject among college students, particularly with the recent Arizona shooting involving a former student.
It seems, too, that Eze had posts on her MySpace that made some question her state of mind.
However, Eze was an extremely bright student and although her complaints may have seemed a bit odd at the time, they still deserved proper investigation.
The Brooklyn College spokesman refused to comment to the New York Times regarding the incident, but it is our understanding that the campus police called the school counselor without first looking into Eze's allegations.
Institutes of higher education have an obligation to protect their students to a certain degree; in this instance the student had a legitimate complaint that turned out to be at least somewhat true.
We can only imagine how differently the situation would have turned out if Tyler Clementi — the Rutgers student who committed suicide after his roommate secretly streamed his sexual encounter on the Internet — had known ahead of time what his roommate was planning to do and reported it to the campus police.
Incidents like these will make students afraid to speak out in fear of not being taken seriously.
Big or small, a complaint given to the campus police should be taken seriously in case it does turn out to be true.
Simultaneously, it is the duty of the student population to not abuse the services we're given and only report a crime or suspicious activity if you honestly fear foul play.
We certainly sympathize with Eze for what she was forced to endure.
As of right now it is uncertain if Brooklyn College was at all responsible for their student's forced stay in the psychiatric ward because the suit has not been settled.
In any case, this incident should send a message to college officials not to rush to judgment too hastily and we sincerely hope that Eze's ordeal does not dissuade students from reporting legitimate complaints to campus police.