Ivy League colleges are failing students who struggle with mental health, according to a new report published by the Ruderman Family Foundation—a private philanthropic organization that advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities. The report graded eight schools on their policies around leaves of absence for students experiencing mental illness.
“A leave of absence is potentially useful to the student,” author Miriam Heyman, PhD writes. “[S]tudents can use the time away from academic demands to focus on well being and recovery. However, schools may also use the leave of absence as a tool for discrimination, pushing students out of school who are entitled by law to receive accommodations and supports which would enable them to stay.”
The schools’ leave of absence policies received grades according to 15 indicators, including: their level of transparency (whether students know what to expect if on leave, and under what conditions they will be allowed to return); support (whether students know how to access campus resources while at school and during their leave); and inclusivity (whether leaves of absence are used in a discriminatory way).
Yale received the lowest grade of “F”—the only school to receive such a grade. (Having attended Yale as an undergraduate, I was coerced to take a “voluntary” leave of absence there. Like one student from Princeton profiled in the paper, I was told by Yale administrators that if I did not take a voluntary leave, I would be placed on an involuntary one.)
Harvard didn’t do much better at a “D-minus.” Princeton, Brown and Columbia led the pack with “Ds.”
Particularly cruel, Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell and Columbia all prohibit students on leave from even visiting the campus. “This means that students who are taking time away from the academic demands in order to focus on their own well being become socially isolated, as they are banned from coming to campus even to share a meal with friends,” writes Heyman. “We call on these schools to remove this prohibition from their leave of absence policy.”
The tables below show the full rankings, as well as some of the reasons for the grades:
The report focused on the Ivy League schools “because they represent the most elite institutions of higher education in our nation.” They should therefore, writes Heyman, “lead the field in practices that promote inclusion and support for students with mental health disabilities.”
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Photo via Yale Daily News