VP Lopes treated unfairly by USC

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “USC VP-campus issues Pedro Lopes suspended for 4 weeks”
Mar. 16, 2007

To the Editor:
I would like to offer my congratulations to Mr. Lopes for doing what most people cannot in admitting he suffers from depression and is trying to tackle it. Conversely, I would like to express my extreme disappointment in the University Students’ Council, especially its executive members, in its lack of compassion and support for a fellow member and Western student.

According to Health Canada, over 1.7 million people in our country are believed to suffer from some form of depression, clinical or otherwise. Everyone at some point in their life will be affected by depression " their own or someone else’s. It’s a disease and those suffering from it deserve to be treated with as much respect and compassion as any other patient. Those who have suffered from depression feel weak and too embarrassed to seek help, which is why over 80 per cent of depressed people don’t seek help.

Furthermore, the USC’s lack of confidence in Mr. Lopes reinforces the message that “personal problems” (namely, mental health problems) are unacceptable in the public arena. University is a confusing time of growth and self-discovery, but not every student has it so easy. Sensory and mental overload can take its toll and many students get lost in their own minds.

The USC and Western should work with students to ensure a smooth transition into the “real world.” Having suffered from depression during my time at Ivey and having friends and loved ones in similar situations, I know how easy it is to blame the victims of depression for their behaviour and apparent inadequacies. It’s even easier to ask a victim of depression, as Mr. Lopes mentions, to work “on things that I was requested to improve.”

Depression, like other diseases, is both mental and physical and can be very dangerous to those who feel they are in it alone. The USC and Western should work with students to facilitate their return to health and clarity. If the USC can’t support its own individual members internally, how can we expect it to support the interests of the student body at large?
"Ben Gordon
Ivey HBA ’06, Political Sciences IV

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