USU Responds to Concerns About Lawsuit
Wednesday, Aug. 07, 2019
Wednesday, Aug. 7
UPDATE: If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, Utah State University encourages you to reach out for help. Talking about desires to kill oneself, researching or preparing for ways to kill oneself and expressing feelings of hopelessness are some possible imminent warning signs. Directly asking someone about suicidal thoughts in a caring manner does not raise the risk of suicide and, in fact, helps reduce stigma and make it more likely the person will seek help. CAPS provides additional information about suicide including resources for preventing suicide.
Tuesday, Aug. 6
Jerusha Sanjeevi’s suicide was a tragic event that had a huge impact on the Utah State University Psychology Department and on our entire university. She was a promising student, and her death tremendously affected her fellow students, as well as staff and faculty in the department. It is inappropriate to wage litigation through media, and as with all student matters and pending litigation, Utah State University is limited in what it can say. The facts should, and will ultimately guide, the outcome of this matter, and it is grossly inaccurate to say that USU did nothing.
Over a period of several months, USU faculty in the combined clinical/counseling psychology program and other administrators worked to address Ms. Sanjeevi’s reports of bullying and the interpersonal conflict between the students in the doctorate program. They intervened in a manner that was consistent with the graduate program’s educational objectives and with Ms. Sanjeevi’s requests.
As noted in the complaint: faculty members directly engaged with Ms. Sanjeevi and the other student in response to allegations of social exclusion and gossip, monitored the situation and proactively reached out to students to check on their well-being, and reassigned labs and mentors. The Office of Equity also provided training on respectful interactions in a professional environment to Ms. Sanjeevi’s entire student cohort.
The USU combined clinical/counseling psychology program is committed to diversity in its educational programs as well as training students to work in diverse environments and provide services to diverse populations. The program’s course work and training requirements include education and instruction on issues of diversity, inclusion and cultural competency. And consistent with the program’s policies and statements on diversity, when students experience harassment, intimidation, or more general interpersonal conflict, faculty and staff intervene appropriately and in a manner consistent with policies. (Learn more about the faculty in the program.)
Unfortunately, since the complaint was filed, several students and faculty at USU – themselves women of color – have been subjected to harassment. USU condemns such treatment and will continue to support everyone in our community and treat each and every person with respect and dignity.
USU encourages any students who are facing any mental health issues, including as a result of bullying or harassment, to seek help through Counseling and Psychology Services or USU Student Health Center. CAPS has made arrangements with the Psychology Department to ensure graduate students in the clinical program are able to seek services discreetly.
Utah State offers additional non-confidential resources to students who feel they are the victim of bullying. Students who feel they are being harassed or intimidated should reach out to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Affairs or report misconduct online. For those who experience a bias incident, USU’s Bias Response Team coordinates resources and support. Inform the university about an incident of bias, visit www.bias.usu.edu. To report a violation of USU’s non-discrimination policy, report at www.equity.usu.edu.
- - Bill Plate, Vice President, University Marketing and Communications, 435-797-0455