Visiting professor has piece published about death issues

Steven Miller, visiting professor of philosophy, has an opinion piece published in Times Higher Education. In Miller’s piece, he relates that when he talks about death in his classes, for many their own deaths seem “part of the way-off and thus not-real future.”

But then a student on campus killed himself. “Few occurrences rock a small campus quite like suicide. This place prides itself on ‘community’ as something more than a recruitment slogan. … But we didn’t know that one of us was struggling — deeply. We held a candlelit vigil, sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and silently pledged to be more attentive and responsive. …

He says he learned that the student was like others on campus: “many of them also struggle with thoughts of meaninglessness, hopelessness and, in more than a handful of cases, suicide.”

He writes of the extreme pressure students on the Ripon campus and other campuses feel, and over winter break around 15 percent of the first-year students dropped out.

“The reasons students gave for leaving varied, but a significant number referenced emotional turmoil,” Miller writes. “From those who stayed, I continue to hear the same themes: disappointment, loneliness and uncertainty. … These students don’t need to be reminded of their impending deaths: for many, they’re feeling dead already. Maybe that’s what we’ve got in common.”

Miller graduated from Ripon College in 2007.


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