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USI Student Told to Leave Campus Over Disorder

After Public Safety received several complaints about the student's tics, which are uncontrollable outbursts brought on by Tourette Syndrome, he was told to move out of his apartment and continue learning online.

Posted: Oct 14, 2020 12:02 AM
Updated: Oct 14, 2020 12:06 AM

"I can't always hold off from having a tic."

Tics. The repetitive movements and unwanted sounds brought on as symptoms of the neurological disorder known as Tourette Syndrome.

They're uncontrollable and something University of Southern Indiana Freshman Seth Pressler has suffered with his whole life.

"Offensive things that as a person who tries to be kind that I would never want to say, and then my Tourette's makes me say things that I would never want to say," he said.

He said the University knew about the extent of his condition before he started classes back in August, but after several complaints to public safety about his tics, the university's director of Public Safety Monday told him to move off campus and finish the semester online.

"It was a tic where I would be like 'a gun, I have a gun' it wouldn't' happen consistently, maybe a few times a day in random places," Pressler said. "But I would always explain to everybody in the room 'oh sorry! I legit have Tourette's, no offense meant.'"

Pressler said he's never owned a gun nor did he ever intend any violence, just that his tics cause him to say things sometimes.

The University gave him until Friday to leave, but he went home Tuesday because he didn't want to feel trapped in his dorm.

"It would be like I was quarantined and I wasn't even sick," Pressler said.

After he told his friend he had to leave campus, his friend created a petition with the goal of bringing the university's handling of disabilities and disorders into question and get the decision to remove Pressler reversed.

It's gaining a lot of traction, having received more than 8,000 signatures after one day, and after Trent Thompson, president of USI's College Republicans, heard about it he also took to social media to condemn the decision.

Pressler is a member of College Republicans and Thompson said while he doesn't think the complaints were tied to Pressler's connection to the group, he felt the decision was wrong and wanted to share his own statement.

"I've shared this post on our Facebook page and I also shared to the USI "Class of" groups and I know I've gotten probably in total over 200 likes, shares and stuff," Thompson said. "So I know a lot of people are in support of it and I've seen a lot of comments and separate posts."

And Thompson said that support is only growing.

"I went by a table in the breezeway today, someone had a table and they had a chalkboard that actually said, they had written on there, "Stand with Seth."

In a statement, the university said it is aware of the petition but due to FERPA and HIPAA regulations, it could not comment directly on the case.

“What we can say is the University has a responsibility to protect the safety and wellbeing of all students, employees and campus visitors to the best of its ability,” the email said.

It went on to say that USI deeply values and supports diversity and inclusion for all.

Despite the decision, Pressler says he's thankful for the support he's been given.

"I'm grateful, very grateful and I feel very supported and loved and blessed."

He said if given the chance to return, he would accept, but upset with how he was treated by the university, would be cautious in the future.

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