Yale University students are suing the institution for what they claim is ‘systemic discrimination’ against students with mental health issues and claim they were forced to withdraw due to their difficulties.
Several students, along with the advocacy group Elis for Rachael, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Yale University in Connecticut, claiming the school failed to treat students with mental health issues from fairly or properly accommodate their requests for policy changes, NBC News reported.
One of the students, Alicia Abramson, said in the class action that she had no choice but to withdraw in her second year because the school would not change its policy to allow her to attending school part-time as she struggled with depression.
Another student, Hannah Neves, says she was “encouraged” by school officials to withdraw during her freshman year in 2019 when she suffered from depression and was hospitalized after an aspirin overdose. Neves says officials, including Yale psychiatrist Heather Paxton and Neves boarding school dean Surjit K. Chandhoke, visited her in the hospital and told her it would be ‘frowned upon’ if she was removed involuntarily. .
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Neves says alternative accommodations that would have allowed her to continue at Yale while she sought treatment for her mental health were not discussed.
Neves added in the lawsuit that she asked if she could return to school in the fall of 2020 and was told she couldn’t due to school policy. According to the lawsuit, Neves was involuntarily removed while in the hospital and told she could only empty her dormitory with a police escort.
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The lawsuit alleges that Yale University violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act while imposing “unreasonable burdens on students who withdraw for reasons related to disabilities and discourage students from withdrawing from Yale due to disability when appropriate.”
A third student, Nicolette Mantica, says she was told she would be removed from Yale while hospitalized in 2017 after engaging in “non-suicidal self-harm” and claimed an official told her. said that “if anything were to happen to him”. , it would be “a handicap for the university”.
“Yale faculty, staff and leaders care deeply about our students,” Yale University spokeswoman Karen Peart told Fox News Digital in a statement. “We recognize how distressing and difficult it is for the student and their loved ones when a student is dealing with mental health issues. When we make decisions and establish policies, our primary focus is safety and health students, especially when they are most vulnerable.
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Peart added that the school believes in promoting “strong, sensible support structures” for students, which in many cases includes the student’s parents and family.
“We have taken steps in recent years to make it easier for students on medical withdrawal to return to Yale and to provide additional support for students. We are also working to increase resources to help students,” Peart said. “The university is confident that our policies comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Nonetheless, we have been working on policy changes that address the emotional and financial well-being of students.”
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Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis and Yale Mental Health and Counseling Director Dr. Paul Hoffman, who is also named in the lawsuit, pushed back against a Washington Post report last month alleging Yale mishandled the student mental health issues.
Hoffman said the report ignored the school’s ‘complex and nuanced effort’ to address student mental health, warning the article ‘could put more students at risk’ by making them believe they should stay in school regardless of their mental health.
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Yale President Peter Salovey also responded to the report and to critics questioning Yale’s actions in light of the Ivy League institution’s $41.4 billion endowment.
“To be clear, the health and well-being of Yale students are the university’s top priorities,” Salovey wrote. “The Washington Post article does not reflect Yale’s efforts to promote student well-being. The article does not acknowledge the support, processes, and policies in place or the positive outcomes associated with our work.”
Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.
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