Feature Story

By: Ariam L. Torres

Bullying goes to College
By Ariam L. Torres
Target audience: Freshmen students of UPRM

Like the suffering of losing a friend or a close family member, or like the disappointment when something we expect never happens, bullying affects us and exists at every age, level and environment of our lives, even in a university institution like the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM).
The UPRM student ombudsman’s office has officially established as law in their general student’s regulations that bullying is not tolerated and that if any case comes to their attention it would be punished. They have adopted the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services definition of bullying which says that: “bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
This power imbalance is caused by society’s formation and should be stopped by an integration of social public policies and by the collaboration of each citizen. The power imbalance turned into bullying has consequences in the students transition process from high school students to college freshmen students, at least that’s what Atty. Wanda Rodriguez, has seen threw out her career as attorney and school teacher.
Rodriguez told us on an interview that both bullied and bullies face the dilemma of adaption to a new social and academic environment. The opportunity to start over and get together with different people helps some but affect others. “This chance to start over could be an advantage for the bullied who find the way to overcome those days when they were the joke of some and for bullies who simply stop bullying others and continue their lives without new incidents, but, in many cases, that dilemma becomes a serious problem.”
We have learned through further investigation that bullying is not about anger, it’s about contempt.
“Contempt comes with three apparent psychological advantages that allow kids to harm others without feeling empathy, compassion or shame. These are: a sense of entitlement, that they have the right to hurt or control others, intolerance towards difference, and a freedom to exclude, bar, isolate and segregate others” (Barbara Coloroso “The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander)
Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
The personality and character issues kids related to bullying develop causes a big impact on their decision making process and in their self-esteem. These issues sometimes hide in the subconscious of those kids and accepting them and eliminating them is not an easy task.

Psychologist Tayliss Irizarry has worked with teenagers and young adults who confront these problems including self-behavior restrictions. “People still don’t understand that bullying can destroy aspirations, goals and dreams that teenagers and young adults could have had.” She says that some people limit themselves, even in the course selection in the university, because they don’t feel confident enough. In some cases, this people decide what to study or even change concentrations because of this reasons.
Freshmen students experience a lot of decision making during their first year. Some of these decisions will have a serious impact throughout the rest of their lives. That’s the bad news. The good news is that everyone can help.
Irizarry understands the importance of helping these students to overcome that era in their lives so that they can give themselves the opportunity to start over without self-restrictions and/or low self-esteem. She told us that in most cases, the person affected by bullying never tells anyone about it. “This is the first big mistake, but it is the reality and we as society can do more than just encourage the bullying prevention.”
“Treat others the way you would like to be treated.” This famous saying is the key phrase of Gabriel Amil Milan, editor of Yuquiyu publications which is an educational book publication company.
Amil Milan truly believes that treating others the way you would like them to treat you is the answer that we are looking for. He knows that freshman college students most times tend to be shy and quiet because they are in the process of knowing new people and adapting to the new environment which is why being polite and kind and treating others with compassion and respect help can be part of the solution.
“Since we never know what goes through each other’s mind, we could be helping someone overcome many personal issues just by following the golden rule.”
Furthermore, Amil Milan thinks that not only teachers and students are responsible for helping the freshman students adapt, but the entire universities’ community has the obligation to help and guide these young recruits.

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