A group of MBA students gathered Tuesday evening to participate in a town hall about mental health and sexual misconduct at the Fuqua School of Business.

The Fuqua Insights Ball—billed as “a fireside chat series exploring (real) life at Fuqua” on its website—was hosted by Miguel Columna, Fuqua ‘18. It focused on the way Columna believes that Duke mishandles the case management for issues like mental health challenges and sexual harassment.

Columna was spurred to host the forum because of an experience he had with the Fuqua administration in September. As a native Puerto Rican, when Hurricane Maria struck the commonwealth, Columna had no idea whether his family was alive or dead and whether they had food or shelter.

“I was going to need help with academics and mental health planning,” Columna said of his mental state during the hurricane.

Out of town in New York at the time, he sent an email to the Dean’s office, requesting academic and mental health help for when he was back on campus. When Columna returned to Durham Sept. 25, he said he was disappointed that the administration was not prepared with a strategic plan for him.

After another two days, Columna went to the Student Health and Wellness Center because he was having “physical reactions” due to his lack of sleep, which included “eye twitching.” Part of Columna’s sleep deprivation came from working with his nonprofit, ConPRmetidos, which was busy supporting the victims of Hurricane Maria.

“[My] first frustration came when there was back and forth between my insurance [at the center],” Columna explained.

Columna was also upset that the school had not briefed the student health center on his anxieties, particularly after he’d sent so many worried emails. Concerned about his mental state, Columna left the center to check into the emergency room because he had “no clear instructions on what to do” at the center.

At the hospital, Columna was displeased with his treatment there.

“At one point I was abandoned in the hospital...I was immediately anxious,” Columna said.

Since his experience, Columna decided to host Tuesday night’s talk because he says he’s realized the issues he faced are not unique to him but rather systemic problems. Columna hoped to get others to open up about their own challenges with mental health issues at Fuqua during the talk.

Some other students echoed Columna’s sentiments about the way the administration handles issues and doesn’t provide sexual harrassment training during Fuqua orientaiton. Still, some found CAPS resouces to be very helpful.

Columna ended his talk by sharing ways that he thinks Fuqua students can help these systemic issues. He said Fuqua should revise the honor code.

“The honor code is currently circumscribed to act against academic violations and explicitly defers anything related to discrimination or sexual misconduct,” Columna said.

Columna also suggested that members of his class bestow a class gift of an endowment for mindfulness sessions at the business school.

“[Mindfulness] is what helped me cope with stress and anxiety,” he said. “I think [our gift] has to go beyond a physical tangible thing...I think mindfulness can go a long way.”

The final step Columna mentioned was a petition to “have a broader conversation with the stakeholders” so that students have “safer and more responsive protection.”

“The systems we have in place are not enough,” Columna said.