Mount St. Mary’s University got itself into some trouble last month when emails leaked to the school newspaper revealed some of the troubling proposals being made by President Simon Newman with regards to at-risk students. Newman compared them to “cuddly bunnies” who should be drowned or shot.
This week, Inside Higher Education got hold of a survey the university circulated to freshman to try and identify at-risk students—not to provide assistance and support, but to encourage them to leave the university before a federal deadline by which the school would have to report any dismissals as drop-outs. Those numbers adversely affect the school’s retention rate, which Newman was trying to improve.
Along with a few innocuous questions, the survey asks students about their mental health, whether they ever feel unable to “shake off the blues,” and their families’ financial situation. It also asks students for their personal identification numbers. Outside experts in higher education have strongly questioned the ethics and legality of the survey.