An existential crisis occurs whenever a life-changing event brings to one's awareness the basic issues of life in a way that makes them sharper and more acute; and consequently, many things seem to be much more of a life-and-death struggle, as time itself seems to loom larger and takes on a much greater urgency. It can be triggered by a sudden illness, the loss of a loved one, or any number of events that have greater depth than ordinary. Moreover, one is then often left to experience what were formerly routine things as overwhelming.
Dickinson State University allowed me to graduate with honors in December, but because of an existential crisis, I have not been able to complete a final course that I need for my degree. I have explained my situation to those officials at DSU who have the power to help me, and my obligations include paying off an impending debt, which I owe for the degree, finding employment, and visiting my kids and grandkids. Whenever I mentioned an existential crisis, and explained it to those officials, and offered abundant proof, their reaction has been one of indifference.
I have asked them for help, and what they have offered is not enough. One offer, as communicated to me through an intermediary, was that I would be able to allowed to invert my major and minor, so that the minor becomes the major and vice versa. Implicit in this offer is their power to waive the usual requirements for what would be my new major. Obviously, if they have the power to waive several courses for a major, then they can waive one course for my current major and issue me my degree, based upon extremely dire, extenuating, and exigent circumstances.
Another offer is to provide me with one-on-one help in order to complete the course in the face of overwhelming difficulty with life struggles whenever I try to make up the work alone. This is insufficient as well. What I need is the assurance that, if I put forth my best effort with such one-on-one help, I will be guided to completion of the course and receive my degree in a timely fashion even if my situation worsens. However, because a few years ago DSU was caught giving people degrees who had not earned them, the institution is touchy about appearing to be doing this, and this is why I am not receiving the help I need.
DSU has not given me anything that I did not earn; and I believe that the institution can accommodate my reasonable request for help if it wishes to do so.
Randy V. Cummings, Dickinson
Editor's note: Mr. Cummings is a member of Phi Theta Kappa (not Phi Betta Kappa) as published in the article on May 26. Mr. Cummings would like to add Phi Theta Kappa is turning 100 years old this year, similar to DSU.