12/1/08 Ask Charlotte Answers

As the holidays will be upon us before we know it, I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Holiday! Good luck on your finals, and enjoy your break—I look forward to more of your questions in the New Year.

Charlotte, I'm a graduate (Class of '06) and two of your last postings are what urged me to possibly add to your advice. You said the right thing in both cases, but I have a bit more: I was in a situation similar to both at the tail end of junior year through my senior year. A friend of mine was always a little shy, but when she got angry or overstressed she was an entirely different person. She also had a particular guy she'd been very keen on since freshman year. She was usually very joyful and happy until the littlest thing would set her off, even down to someone parking crooked next to her in the parking lot. She'd spend hours crying over her crush.

We didn't suggest she seek help because none of us recognized the symptoms of severe depression, we just thought she was being a drama queen. When she moved in with us the summer of junior year, we thought she'd calm down, but she was a tyrant: having tantrums over the littlest thing and getting mad at us because we didn't stay up all night with her and talk about the guy she'd been lusting after for years. We suggested counseling finally, and even went with her for a few sessions, but she just became worse.

For another friend and myself, our grades started to slip, we both had trouble sleeping and eating and I developed an ulcer. The thought of going home after classes would sometimes make me so upset I'd cry. After you've exhausted all your avenues for helping someone and they still don't want help, it may be smart to distance yourself from that particular friend. I went to counseling a few times myself because I felt this person's behavior start to rub off on me: no build to anger, easily upset, and severely moody all the time.

By all means, get your friend help. Even go with them and explain how important it is and how much you care about them—but you can only do so much. After a certain amount of time, it may be time to think of yourself. I didn't do that and lost out on several opportunities.

Thanks for letting me say so, Charlotte.

Answer: Thank YOU for offering your very personal insight to this difficult issue!

Question: I notice that many downtown restaurants take Dragon Dollars but not WickIt cards. Why is this? It seems someone should look into getting the WickIt card into more places. Also is there a list of the places that do take WickIt off campus?

Answer: The owner of a downtown restaurant, like all businesses in town, makes a decision to accept the WickIt card. In accepting the card, a business incurs a processing expense, similar to the use of a credit card. The best way to get more businesses to accept the card is for potential users to speak with the owner and say “I am a student at Hartwick, and would appreciate it if you would accept the WickIt card.”

You may check the businesses that accept the WickIt card on the web site.

Question: Hey Charlotte, I feel like this is a weird question, but I don't really want my friends knowing. I just met my boyfriend's mother over the summer. He and I have been together over a year. His mother and I always exchanged silly little e-mails over the year, but I got a very long and it seems to me, drunk e-mail from her telling me to back off from her son. It’s pretty obvious that she was under some kind of influence in the e-mail. I haven't shown it to my boyfriend yet and I have NO idea what to do with this? I feel she's crossed a major line but how do I say that?

Answer: Three routes occur to me in dealing with this—and the one you take depends on your relationship with your boyfriend. First, you could speak with your boyfriend about the e-mail, and show it to him, introducing it gently by saying ‘I don’t think your mother was herself when she wrote this,’ and decide with him how to approach the situation.

Second, you could simply ask your boyfriend’s mother about the e-mail. You would want to do so carefully, to avoid making her feel uncomfortable, or as if she is being backed into a corner. My suggestion would be to call her on the phone (not by e-mail) and tell her that you want to talk about something that could potentially be uncomfortable for both of you…my guess is that if you were correct and she was under the influence of something; you will not need to continue, and she will respond to you about her e-mail.

If, however, the feelings she expressed are heartfelt, you will need to be prepared to have a very real conversation with her. Allow her to speak to you honestly, and allow her to speak without interruption. When she has finished, if you are so inclined, ask questions or reply to her comments—in a cool and calm manner. Take care not to allow yourself to become defensive as this will surely result in an argument–which you do not want. Remember, if your feelings for your boyfriend are true, the respect you show his mother during this time will be very important to your future.

The final option is to ignore the e-mail, and act graciously toward your boyfriend’s mother when you see her. This route assumes that she sent the e-mail when she was truly ‘not herself,' and is terribly embarrassed about having sent it. Good luck!

Question: Charlotte, I was wondering, is there anything in the Student Handbook that prohibits professor-student romantic/sexual relationships?

Answer: Policies regarding inappropriate employee-student relationships are found under Human Resources’ ‘College Regulations and Policies.’ You may view this policy online.

Question: I live in van Ess and we are unable to raise or lower our beds by ourselves. My bed is practically on the floor, leaving no room for storage underneath it. I put my first work order in well over a month ago, and the second one in 2 weeks ago. I know there are other problems that need to be addressed on campus, but why hasn't this been resolved yet? How much longer should I expect to wait? Thank you!

Answer: I hope that your work order has been resolved! I communicated with Cindy Reynolds, our new Service Response Manager, about it, and she mentioned that they were running a little behind because of other priorities. She also informed me that the work order system has been set up to generate a work order number (when filled out online). This enables the individual submitting the work order to track its status.

Question: If your teacher is extremely late when is it acceptable to leave the class?

Answer: Although there is no written policy regarding this, the consensus (from individuals whose educational experience goes back a number of years) seems to be that fifteen minutes is an appropriate period of time to wait. Emergencies and unforeseen circumstances affect us all, and may result in an unexpected absence or delay.

At that point it may be advisable to check in with the faculty secretary and let him/her know that the professor has not shown up (and that you have!).

Question: I'm at a loss Charlotte. My fiancé and I have been together for about seven years and we're planning on getting married after graduation. He goes to SUNY O and I go here. He works 30 hours a week on top of school but we still make time for each other. The only problem is a friend of mine who won't stop complaining at me that all I ever do is spend time with him and that I've ditched all my friends and on and on. He and I live together on Main Street and with rent and our combined tuition, we both work two jobs and go to school full time. When we get home at night, we're exhausted and really don't want to go to the bars out in town or stand in line at Sal's for 45 minutes. Saturday is one of the few days off I have and I usually hole up in Miller or Yager to do homework. I can't take the complaining anymore. She's been drunk and out in town calling on the phone and throwing things at our window almost three nights a week. What do I do here? I used to be really good friends with this girl, but now she's really crossed a line.

Answer: It’s always difficult when one partner in a friendship (or relationship) grows in a different direction. The solution, however, is still communication. I suggest that you invite your friend for coffee—and tell her what you’ve said here, that you still value her friendship very much and that it hurts you that she is not happier for you. Explain to her that life has changed for you, and that your priorities have shifted, but that does not mean that she is not an important part of your life. And though you cannot continue your friendship with the same activities that you once shared—going to the bars, standing in line at Sal’s—her friendship is still important to you (if that is, indeed, the case). Then try to schedule an activity with her that you feel you can accommodate.

I believe you need to make it clear, however, that the continuation of the friendship is dependent on whether she is able to respect you and the life you now lead—including your schedule and your windows.

Question: As I pass outside Golisano more than once a day, I can't help wondering why there is a section of wall that doesn't have any brick. Did they run out or is there some kind of "green" purpose?

Answer: According to my sources, the architect designed the white area of the front of the building to break up the expanse of brick. It was purely an aesthetic decision.