Yale negotiates settlement in mental health lawsuit

Karen Lin, Senior Photographer

Content warning: This article contains references to suicide.


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for people in crisis or for those who want to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.

Crisis Text Line is a text messaging service for crisis support. To speak to a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It’s free, available 24/7 and confidential.

To speak with a Yale Mental Health and Counseling counselor, schedule a session here. Telephone counselors are available 24/7: call (203) 432-0290.

Students who wish to take a medical waiver should reach out to their residential college dean.

Additional resources are available in the guide compiled by the Yale College Council here.


Mental health advocacy group Elis for Rachael and two current students has been filled action-phase the case against the University last week, alleging that the University discriminates against students with intellectual disabilities through unfair practices and policies, especially surrounding them. revocation and reinstatement.

One week later, on Dec. 7 movement, Yale and the plaintiffs asked the court to suspend all proceedings while they negotiated. Prior to this proposal, Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis told the press on Tuesday that there are changes expected in the spring that will address some of the complaints about the withdrawal and reinstatement, but so far it is not clear if the changes are targeted. they were waiting for settlement negotiations.

“The parties have agreed to stay the case while they discuss ways to resolve the complaint and achieve their goals,” said a joint statement from the plaintiffs and the University.

In the first complaint, the plaintiffs and members of the proposed class, are entitled to and have requested injunctive relief, in this case changes to the University’s mental health policies and financial compensation to cover attorney’s fees. The proposed class, in this case, is “all Yale students with disabilities, or who have a record of, being harmed, or fearing harm, by the unlawful policies and practices challenged in this case.”

In the meantime, students have voiced their support for the News’ lawsuit and see the settlement talks as an opportunity for long-awaited change at Yale.

Dereen Shirnekhi ’24, organizer of Students Unite Now, wrote to the News that she feels solidarity with students and alumni fighting inaccessibility at Yale. Shirnekhi has been a staff reporter for the news.

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“Mental illness can be crippling and the lack of proper care is often the most dangerous for students who are discriminated against by race and class, so reducing it to debt by taking away the support of the institution makes things worse,” Shirnekhi told the press, “Yale should listen to this case. and listen to the needs of students in the first place. I’m very frustrated that students have to fight Yale so hard to get the resources we need to stay at Yale to learn and succeed — resources that Yale can afford, just as it was able to eliminate the student fee contribution.”

The 41-page complaint filed last Wednesday by the plaintiffs says Yale’s policies discriminate against students with intellectual disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection Act. and the Affordable Care Act.

The complaint also includes accounts from students and alumni about their experiences withdrawing and being reinstated at Yale, often comparing them to Yale’s leave policies. Writing leave is a program initiated by a student when he decides to take a leave of absence before the 15th day of the semester. Withdrawal, however, is a process where students take time off after that point, sometimes against their will. Unlike students on leave, withdrawn students are not guaranteed a place at Yale afterward.

The complaint states that the University’s policy allows for the automatic withdrawal of fees for disability-related symptoms, including threatening you, but does not address whether the withdrawal may cause further harm to the student. Additionally, the brief describes how the University often makes students feel encouraged – and pressured – to take “voluntary” time off.

The plaintiffs allege that Yale imposes unfair policies on those who withdraw, including prohibiting students from withdrawing from campus or participating in activities and requiring them to leave campus within 48 hours. There is no similar restriction for students taking a leave of absence.

One of the two students currently serving as the complainant, Hannah Neves ’23, explains that the police escorted her to her room to collect her belongings before she left to withdraw.

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These accounts of the negative practices of those who withdraw, include requests that Yale not operate exclusively as a “full school” and allow part-time enrollment as an accommodation for the mentally retarded.

Peyton Meyer ’24, one of the directors of the Yale Student Mental Health Association, wrote that this requirement is very important, as it leaves students with the choice to remain fully enrolled or to leave completely.

“For some students, staying enrolled in part-time courses to allow more time to treat their mental health may be the best option, but currently that is not allowed,” Meyer wrote to the News.

Another concern at the forefront of the petition is the loss of health care options for students who withdraw. The complaint explains how students who leave within the first fifteen days of the semester have their health insurance terminated, and those who leave after the first fifteen days remain covered for only 30 days.

Plaintiffs also described the reinstatement process as “difficult,” comparing it to Yale’s graduate admissions process. The current return policy, which was there amended in April without announcement to students, requires an application form, two letters of support and a personal statement.

However, news of the settlement talks comes at a time when administrators told the News that they are working to change Yale’s withdrawal policies to address these complaints.

While discussing the changes to revocation and reinstatement that will come early next year, Lewis said that there is a committee that is considering the complaints of this case, the changes will be announced at the beginning of the new year. He added that these committees were formed back in the summer but “they also pay attention to new information.”

Lewis reiterated when he spoke to News the University that he is committed to teaching the mental health of students.

“The mental health of our students and their health in particular, suicide prevention is very important in our thinking about this,” Lewis told the News, “We are very sympathetic to the situation of anyone who is dealing with a lot of stress while … in college and we try to make sure that everything we do reflects that care for students ours.”

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Resolution conversations also raise questions about how resolution conversations can change the experiences of students dealing with mental health issues, given the same. the case at Stanford in 2018,. The Stanford case was led by the same attorney, Maia Goodell LAW ’06, which ended in a settlement.

Before the case at Stanford, students were required to take a commitment leave if there was a “significant risk” to the health and safety of the student or others, but after the policy updated Depending on the case, students who are being considered for involuntary leave can choose whether or not they want to take the leave.

The latest case at Yale came between a longtime student anxiety about access issues at Yale Mental Health and Counseling and the latter followed Washington Post an article highlighting students’ and alumni’s experiences with Yale’s withdrawal and readmission policy, and during the students’ tenure.

The university responded to the article by saying to protect Yale, through a a book in an editorial written by Lewis and Hoffman, and a statement made by University President Peter Salovey.

Meyer wrote that, in line with the Washington Post article, the case drew attention to Yale and put pressure on them to adjust their return policy.

However, he wrote that it was “misleading” for Yale to provide a percentage of reinstatement requests approved for medical waivers in general, and not specifically those related to mental health reasons, and disagreed with the University’s response in their letter to the editor. that this article emphasized the dangerous beliefs that students should stay in school no matter what.

“I think the current recovery policies are doing just that,” Meyer wrote to the News, “The Washington Post article is just amplifying the voices of readers who need to be heard.”

MHC has two locations at 55 Lock Street and 205 Whitney Avenue.


Sarah Cook covers student policy and news, and previously covered President Salovey’s cabinet. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is a sophomore at Grace Hopper majoring in Neuroscience.


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