BY MOSES HUNSAKER, CONTRIBUTOR
On the evening of November 17, 2022, I had the displeasure of reading an article that appeared in these pages of the Fourth Estate on Pankaj Bhasin, an individual that suffered a psychotic break in 2018 and killed a man. The article, which begins with a description of the violent act, seems to imply that this individual’s condition disqualifies one from pursuing an education. This is not the case, and implying so is grossly irresponsible.
As Byrne’s article briefly notes, Mr. Bhasin was found not guilty by way of insanity, and has received the court-mandated years of treatment for his condition. Also noted are the required medications for Mr. Bhasin, as well as the careful stipulations of conditional release. The tone of this article seems to find these lawful measures insufficient, and bemoans both the fact that the Master of Business application lacks the option to self-report a felony as well as the fact that Mr. Bhasin was not convicted of a felony—here disregarding the judgement of the law.
As college students we are often privy to lofty conversations about “mental health,” which mostly focus on conditions like anxiety and depression—which are viewed with harmless pity—and resolve towards a faith in rehabilitation. True rehabilitative justice, however, requires that we grapple with the reality that those who commit violent acts as a result of a mental health condition continue to exist after the event itself. Mr. Bhasin is not locked away, rather we must acknowledge that he is attempting to exist in society—a society where education is one path to leading a normal life. I will stake the claim here that someone who had a psychotic break, and committed a heinous act, does deserve the opportunity to earn a degree. This opportunity for reintegration will be greatly helped if the school paper refrains from ginning up a frenzy against him.
I believe that most Mason students would agree that the mentally ill should be rehabilitated, and though it might be uncomfortable to think about, this is how rehabilitation occurs. Mr. Bhasin clearly is making some attempt at reintegrating into society by pursuing an education, and I don’t think fear mongering on the part of this outlet is an appropriate response.