USI responds to petition regarding a student with Tourette’s being asked to leave campus

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VANDERBURGH CO, Ind. (WEHT) The University of Southern Indiana is under fire after allegedly kicking a student off campus because of his Tourette’s tics.

A petition on Change.org has already garnered more than 6,800 signatures.

The petition alleges USI officials knew the extent of Seth Pressler’s disorder and allowed to him to come to campus in August.

“I’ve made so many connections and friendships down there, and I have a right to be on campus too,” Pressler said. He was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when he was a child.

“I have Coprolalia, which 10% of people with Tourette’s have,” he said, explaining one of his symptoms. During the interview, he had a brief involuntary tick while describing one of his symptoms, quickly apologized and resumed describing what coprolalia is.

“It’s when you say inappropriate remarks like curse words, slurs, or inappropriate short remarks,” says Pressler. In October, after allegedly receiving reports from students to Public Safety, the university is accused of telling Pressler to continue his education online.

“I felt like this could be solved with more education and more awareness, especially from the university officials,” he said.

“I understand the school is trying to serve thousands of students. I understand that. But based off the belief that no student should be discriminated based off their education, I believe Seth is being discriminated against,” added Dr. Matthew Castro of Redeemer Fellowship Church, where Pressler was attending services.

“If you’re going to make this decision, you knew what the situation was before the semester started. So, why wait until now?” said Trent Thompson, who was in a campus group with Pressler.

Pressler says he’ll return home to continue his studies through USI, but still wants to be on campus.
“Regardless of my disability, though it may be unique, I have a right to be on campus and do the best to function,” says Pressler.

USI’s response to the petition is below:

The University of Southern Indiana is aware of a petition formed about a USI student that has received a number of signatures. Due to FERPA and HIPAA regulations, the University will be unable to comment directly on any individual student case.

However, what we can say is the University has a responsibility to protect the safety and wellbeing of all students, employees and campus visitors to the best of its ability. We also deeply value and support diversity and inclusion for all. There is a strong history of providing services and academic accommodations to support the needs of students in a variety of situations. It is the policy of USI to be in full compliance with all federal and state non-discrimination and equal opportunity laws, orders and regulations relating to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status.

As such, we appreciate the outpouring of concern and support by those commenting on the limited details provided in the petition as well as those who have provided direct feedback to us. USI will always make decisions with care and concern for individuals at the forefront. To the extent that the larger campus community may be affected by an individual, the University must always consider the safety and good of the whole.

You can learn more about Tourette’s Syndrome from the CDC’s website.

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(This story was originally published on October 13, 2020)

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