Jeremy Rawls, a senior at Mississippi College in Clinton, claims that he was suspended after he requested a non-Muslim mental health counselor.
Rawls is a former U.S. Marine with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is linked to his two combat tours in Iraq.
Rawls says he was matched with a female counselor, who dressed in traditional Muslim garb, at the school’s Office of Counseling and Disability Services.
Rawls went to the counseling office to get paperwork to give to his professors.
Rawls told Campus Reform:
Every semester I have to identify with the school as disabled and they give me letters to give to my professors. This semester I had a surgery at the beginning which caused some issues in getting some letters.
It’s not that I didn’t want to participate … I didn’t want to traumatize her and it wasn’t a good environment to be talking about [my disabilities] with that specific person.
Rawls claims that he repeatedly tried to meet with staff members to talk about changing counselors, but was blown off until he got a meeting with school administrators.
“Their response was suspending me pending a mental evaluation which I provided and then they put me on further restriction and a reintegration program,” Rawls said.
Associate Dean of Students Jonathan Ambrose reportedly told Rawls in an email on February 26 that the school had to provide "due diligence in not only the protection of yourself, but also the campus community as a whole from potential harm or the threat there of.”
The email added: “You are not permitted to be on campus for any reason or attend class during the duration of the Interim Suspension unless you have written permission."
Rawls said that he got an independent mental evaluation at the request of the school, and Ambrose wrote him another email on March 16 that stated:
At this time, you are only allowed integration back into academics, meaning: attending class, lectures, or any other academic related matter that is pertinent to a class or graded assignment.
Rawls was also told that he had to “show ability to handle academic course load" and "demonstrate regular attendance in mental health therapy at a licensed therapist."
The university reportedly requested access to Rawls' medical records for the school’s Office of Counseling and Disability Services, where the problem began.
Rawls filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but has had problems finding a lawyer.
Rawls met with school administrators last week to resolve the issue.
“They asked me what I wanted and I told them I want to be a normal student and I want my job back,” Rawls recalled.
Mississippi College has not responded to Campus Reform's questions.
In January, Rawls praised the college in a CBS 46 report (video below) about returning veterans enrolling to school.
Rawls was helping vets get integrated into college life. He and fellow vet Stephan Pitts created a student-led veterans organization at the school.
"Most [veterans] are natural leaders and they're ready and capable, but they really just don't know how to interact yet, so we're trying to get that fixed," Rawls said at the time.