Agony aunt

October 19, 2001

Q : How can a tutor quell students' fears about this war on terrorism?

A : Such fears are a comprehensible response to a very real threat, so I am not sure that "quelling" them is possible or advisable.

I would encourage tutors to acknowledge and accept the existence of such fears and to provide opportunities for students to discuss them. Tutors might also encourage students to support each other through their normal friendship groups, activities and so on.

Departments could consider responses such as organising open discussions or allowing flexibility for late submission of work requests or submitted work being below students' previous standards.

One university organised a large seminar that was open to the local community as well as staff and students fairly soon after September 11. Amid disturbing global events, such opportunities for supporting dialogue, from one-to-one chats to much bigger, structured assemblies, are an important aspect of our civic education contributions to the world around us.

Students may be acutely and directly affected and upset by everything from previous association with trauma to recent experiences of harassment and racism. Support of these students at an individual level with possible referral to the range of support services in the university will be very important.

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