Many of us are aware of the plight of Allison Fernstrom, a freshman who seems to be the victim of what I see as a few bizarre judgement calls made by University of Maine’s administration. And though it seemed that the situation could not be resolved in Fernstrom’s favor as last semester ended, it is not quite over yet. In the Jan. 13 edition of The Maine Campus, we were given an update of how Fernstrom is looking to resolve the situation through legal matters, and with any luck many of us will see Fernstrom walking back on campus again. Whatever happens, questions still need answers in this debacle.
Did the administration inform Fernstrom of her medical plan’s incompatibility with the University? Was she told of the potential costs long before she was moved from her dorm, or was it even suggested that she switch to the Bridge plan once it became apparent she may have to rely on University Volunteer Ambulance Corp and emergency services more often than other students?
What sort of message does this whole issue send to other students on campus with medical conditions which may require UVAC or other emergency care? Not all of them may be covered by the Bridge plan or know if their insurance is accepted by the university.
And finally, why did the administration move Fernstrom in the first place? They have cited anonymity on the issue, maintaining Fernstrom was moved because she was a disruption and not much else, and not citing where the complaints came from. But the logic of the decision is confusing.
Nearly 100 neighbors from her former residence signed a petition saying they had no problem with Fernstrom or her medical conditions or even visits by the UVAC. If 100 people – no doubt a good portion of York Hall – did not have a problem then how was she a “disruption” to the entire residency?
Regarding her medical needs, Fernstrom has epilepsy, which makes it vital that she be around people in case of a seizure. In her dorm she had plenty of people to help her in case of an attack. But then the administration moved Fernstrom to a converted single Estabrooke.
The single has been documented as having both smoke damage and being a former janitor’s closet: not the best place for someone with Fernstrom’s conditions to be in. And Estabrooke is not as populated as other dorms – something not good for Fernstrom’s epilepsy.
Another question is why Fernstrom wasn’t moved closer to medical facilities to better equipped to handle her needs? Estabrooke is literally across the street from York, while dorms such as Hart and Gannett are much closer to Cutler Health Center.
Whatever happens and whatever Fernstrom decides to do, there is no doubt that this is a potential black mark on the school’s record. At the very least, there should be some attempt to save face and actually explain their mysterious actions – not to the students who are affected or who are interested in the outcome of this situation, but to Allison Fernstrom.
After all, it is her life in which the administration has seen fit to dabble.
Paul Goodman is a freshman new media major.