EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– More than 10,000 people have signed a petition for Seth Pressler, a USI freshman who has a neurodevelopmental disorder. Students seem to be siding with Pressler over USI’s administration. Preparations for a peaceful protest are underway.
The University allowed Seth Pressler to enroll for on campus classes. Now, university officials say he’s no longer allowed on campus. His Tourette’s syndrome has apparently made some students feel uneasy.
Eyewitness News was the first to talk with Pressler after he was told he was no longer able to attend class on USI’s campus as a result of his tics from Tourette’s. He told us he’s thankful he’s able to continue his classes online but he had already adjusted to life on campus.
After we broke this news on air it started a conversation in the community about Pressler’s right to an education versus other student’s rights to attend class with few interruptions.
“We have to have a multipronged approach when from all levels when dealing with whether it’s behavioral issues or whether it’s with unique needs,” said Mike Rust, President of Evansville Teacher’s Association. This may be something that’s becoming tougher to do. Education officials say hiring more teachers and specialists is increasingly difficult.”We are constantly looking for new solutions and we must continue to look for new solutions.”
Some behavioral specialists are working along side the schools. They say when it comes to Tourette’s syndrome and other disorders a great place to start in understanding this disorder is to make sure everyone educates themselves and their families about it. This way we can all be more understanding.
“Sometimes just a simple act of kindness, love caring, makes all the difference in an individual no matter if that’s a child, if that’s a middle aged individual or if that’s maybe a very elderly person. Just being there or giving them hope and help and assurance is just as important,” said Becky Glines, Communication Manager of Southwestern Behavioral Healthcare. She explained that a strong support system can make all the difference for someone trying to overcome a disorder of any kind while also chasing life goals. “It’s not an easy road. For mental health, you can’t just put a cast or a band aide on something. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and a lot of work to accomplish the goals.”
Pressler’s peers tell Eyewitness news, the USI freshman has already moved back home. He had until Friday to move out of his room on campus.
USI officials addressed the community’s concern on Facebook saying it’s their policy to abide by federal and state non-discrimination laws and regulations. So far the only explanation USI has given is that they are trying to protect the safety and well being of all students, staff, and visitors.
(This story was originally published on October 14, 2020)