Prof warns of second pandemic,
Tufts prof concerned about student mental health due to racism
Tufts prof calls racism a ‘health pandemic’ in open letter to university
A Tufts education professor wrote an open letter to the university, explaining that racism is a health pandemic that leads to mental health issues.
An education professor at Tufts University wrote an open letter to the school’s administration, explaining that racism posed a serious risk to students’ mental health.
Professor Erin Seaton, who is involved with the university’s diversity and inclusion leadership team, expressed concerns about mental health in relation to COVID-19 and economic volatility. However, she called racism a “health pandemic.”
"As students struggle with isolation, repeated exposure to racial trauma, economic hardship, technological challenges and barriers to accessing mental health support, mental health needs have increased, especially among Black and Latinx youth,” Seaton wrote.
She also asserted that “white supremacy and racism are still infused throughout the university.” Until anti-racist policies are fully implemented, Seaton expects that “the prevailing structures will deeply impact mental health and learning, placing further undue stress on historically marginalized students."
As a solution to mental health problems, Seaton calls for Tufts to implement policies that involve “reducing course loads, streamlining what students need to learn and implementing anti-racist and trauma-informed practices in classrooms.”
According to her Tufts faculty biography, Seaton’s scholarship emphasizes “the ways in which stories about race, class, gender, sexuality, and education shape identity formation.” She has taught elementary and middle school students.
Earlier in the summer, Tufts University posted resources on how to safely protest, including instructions on combating the effects of tear gas. The university told Campus Reform that it is “disingenuous and intentionally misleading” to suggest that Tufts was encouraging violent protest with the post.
Professor Seaton told Campus Reform that she reached out to the Office of the President over the summer, but was told that the schools’ Campus Mental Health Services already existed to meet students' mental health needs.
“Given the challenges that students are facing as they navigate college in a racial and global health pandemic, I found this to be an inadequate response, which is why I wrote the editorial,” explained Seaton. She has “not heard from anyone in a position of leadership at Tufts University since publishing this piece,” although she has received many supportive emails from faculty members.
Campus Reform reached out to Tufts University about the open letter and will update this article accordingly.