Counseling to be offered

Mai Hoang

From anger to confusion, students who were affected by the Poland Hall fire yesterday will have a lot of emotions to deal with in the coming days, experts said.

Richard Greer, Counseling Services director, said there are several ways students can deal with those emotions.

Greer, who was talking with students yesterday at Poland and counseling them, said it helped for them to let out all their emotions, ranging from sadness to confusion.

“In times like, this is not the time to be Superman or Superwoman,” he said. “It’s a time to be a human.”

One of the first things students should do to help deal with their emotions is to talk to another person, Greer said. Students may experience some negative effects if they keep their emotions inside.

“It can hurt us physically or emotionally down the road someday,” he said. “If we keep it all to ourselves, it will eventually wear on us.”

But there isn’t a specific way students will let out those feelings.

“Each of us will deal with our feelings in our own way, in our own time,” Greer said.

Because of this, he encourages students not to limit their conversations to a professional, but also to talk to people with which they’re comfortable.

“Most of us get through these kinds of things because we have the support of our friends, family and fellow students,” he said.

Psychology professor William Pfohl has a similar recommendation.

“Your friends, as a source of support, can be a help,” he said. “We find that people who reach out are much better.”

Pfohl said students might experience sleeplessness, fear and anger for a few days. Most people are all right after a few days, but there are a few that need additional assistance.

He said that this will occur with anyone acquainted with Pellville freshman Katie Autry, who was seriously injured in the fire.

Pfohl said those living in Poland will be aware of everything that goes on in the dorm, especially those events that might be associated with yesterday’s fire.

“If somebody burns something, believe me it’s going to be a major event,” he said. “Even minor incidents can set up a pretty big reaction from individuals and those in the dorm.”

Pfhol said that administrators should also help students deal with the tragedy by providing information and assuring them of their safety.

People want to know what’s going to change and what’s going to happen next as quickly as possible, he said.

University officials should also dispel rumors as quickly as possible, Pfhol said. Letting rumors circulate can be destructive for those involved.

“The more accurate the facts they have, the better one can cope with it,” he said.

Greer said that, in the past, the university has made accommodations for students dealing with a crisis. For example, the university could make academic accommodations for those who might have had trouble studying for their exams.

Greer said he has already seen examples of the university community’s response. He said President Gary Ransdell brought doughnuts to facilities management workers who were cleaning up the water damage in the dorm.

“We come together as a community, and that way (we) each support each other,” he said. “That is a healing aspect of any kind of tragedy.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]