Letter to the Editor: ‘How NYU Wellness Sees Itself — and Why That Image Is Wrong’

Ken Cooper, Senior Editor, WGBH News

In response to the editorial “How NYU Wellness Sees Itself — and Why That Image Is Wrong” published on Nov. 25, 2019, we commend your efforts to hold news organizations accountable. However, the editorial makes several misstatements about the WGBH News feature “As Demand For Mental Health Services Rises, Colleges Scramble To Provide Resources To Students” that we feel are necessary to correct.

As a news outlet, we’re not in a position to endorse or denounce NYU’s suicide prevention efforts, and we do neither in the article. We note that “some college leaders say NYU’s response stands as a model” because of its anonymous hotline, and we provide space for detractors to note the program’s shortcomings. In the article, we shared that the school was not forthcoming about how many students had committed suicide since the plans were implemented, quoted students’ discontent about long wait times for counseling appointments and noted 27,000 calls to the Wellness Exchange during 2018 to demonstrate a high level of demand for these services, not to demonstrate the effectiveness of the hotline.

The WSN editorial also claimed our article “has only five sources.” The feature has five named sources. Dozens of sources were interviewed on the record and on background for this story and our series on mental health on campus, and all responses informed our reporting. None of the administrators we interviewed claimed to have solved the problem of anxiety and depression on campus. All of them said they could do better.

The editorial also brings up that the fact that Zoe Ragouzeos, the executive director of NYU’s Counseling and Wellness Services, sits on the board of The Mary Christie Foundation. This is pertinent information to the article and our omission was not intentional; it should have been included in our story. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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We stand behind our reporting and continue to believe the online article and radio feature on Nov. 21 is balanced and fair.

Ken Cooper is a Senior Editor of WGBH News.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 print edition. Email Ken Cooper at [email protected]

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