Yale University reached a settlement with a student and alumni group that accused the Ivy League institution of discriminating against students struggling with mental illness, in some cases pressuring them to withdraw—or risk being kicked out.
Under the terms of the agreement, announced Friday, Yale will modify its policies to make it easier for students to take time off for mental health reasons, tailoring leaves to each student’s individual needs and streamlining the process for their return to campus. Students may attend classes on a part-time basis if warranted, and tuition will be prorated accordingly.
The university had previously softened its policy to allow students suffering from mental health challenges to take a medical leave of absence rather than withdraw.
According to the settlement, Yale will also provide increased mental health training for faculty, administrators and staff, including athletic coaches, and make available data on the number of students who take and return from medical leaves of absence each year.
“Today is a watershed moment for anyone with a mental health disability, and for the entire Yale community,” said Yale graduate Rishi Mirchandani, co-founder of Elis for Rachael, the group that brought the lawsuit on behalf of a former student who died by suicide. “This historic settlement affirms that students with mental health needs truly belong.”
Pericles Lewis, dean of Yale College, said in a statement that he was pleased with the outcome and hopes the changes “will make it easier for students to ask for support, focus on their health and wellbeing, and take time off if they wish, knowing that they can resume their studies when they are ready.”