Plaintiffs are responding to recent changes to leave policy announced Wednesday, as representatives of the plaintiffs and Yale hold their second meeting to negotiate a settlement in the Yale Mental Health Policy lawsuit.
Yale announced sweeping changes to its leave policy this week. However, these policy shifts may not be enough for plaintiffs who accuse Yale of discriminating against students with mental illness.
Yale’s leave policies, particularly those related to students taking time off for mental health issues, have been a historic point of concern, most recently culminating in an ongoing class-action lawsuit litigation. In response to this review, the University Announce On Wednesday, there were broad changes to their furlough policy. The changes include reclassifying medical withdrawals as sick leave and introducing new benefits for students on leave, such as access to health insurance through Yale.
However, the plaintiffs — a group made up of current students and the mental health advocacy group Elis for Rachel — concluded their second meeting with university representatives on Thursday, as settlement Negotiating, they remain concerned that the changes will not be enough.
“These policies are a step in the right direction, but this case raises unresolved concerns,” members of Elis for Rachael wrote in a group statement. “We are still negotiating. We are grateful to Yale for this first step, but if Yale gets a point for its work on mental health, it is an incomplete point at best.”
This litigation, filed in November, accused Yale of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act when it treated students with mental health issues. The plaintiffs argue that Yale’s policy “disproportionately affects students with mental health disabilities from disadvantaged backgrounds, including students of color, students from impoverished or rural areas, and international students.”
Wednesday’s policy change addresses some of the concerns raised in the lawsuit, but many of the allegedly discriminatory policies remain.
The lawsuit highlights the inability of students to reduce their course load, unfair academic penalties for students returning from mental health leave, and the prohibition of students on medical leave from visiting campus or taking summer classes. The plaintiffs also point out that students who take a leave of absence for mental health reasons could lose their health insurance if they purchased Yale health insurance before they left campus.
Additionally, the lawsuit says the reinstatement process for furloughed students wanting to return to campus is “daunting,” citing that students had to prove they were “constructively engaged” while on furlough before Wednesday’s change.
Many of those concerns were addressed in Wednesday’s announcement.
Not only did the recent changes eliminate multiple reinstatement requirements, but they also allow students on leave for mental health reasons to visit campus, take summer classes, participate in extracurricular activities, maintain health insurance through Yale and use certain campus resources, including the library and the Office of Career Strategies.
In addition, recent changes remove any minimum time for sick leave and provide avenues for students to reduce their course load in two courses in the event of an extreme medical crisis.In this case, the new policy also allow Students are allowed to complete their degree in the tenth semester, an increase from the previous nine semesters. Financial aid students who attend the tenth semester will continue to receive financial aid.
Another point made in the lawsuit is that students who take a leave of absence for mental health reasons are not refunded tuition. However, Pericle Lewis, president of Yale College, told The News that this only applies to students who do not have tuition insurance.Students with insurance can get 80% refund if they take leave, students without tuition insurance Support is now available through Yale’s Emergency Fund.
However, not all issues in the lawsuit have been resolved.
Alicia Abramson ’24, one of two student plaintiffs in the case, wrote that the recently announced policy is an “incomplete step” in terms of the changes needed to protect the well-being of students “.
“Settlement discussions are still ongoing, and more work needs to be done before Yale’s policies and practices meet the needs of students and comply with the law,” Abramson wrote to the News. “That’s why the lawsuit was filed and why we continue to fight for change. Students deserve it all.”
The lawsuit also criticized Yale for requiring students to reduce their course loads in order to pay full tuition. Lewis wrote to the news that those who have been downgraded two courses due to the medical crisis will not receive any tuition refunds under the new policy.
One of the issues at the heart of the lawsuit — the practice of furloughing students without their consent — was not only preserved, but actually regulated in recent policy changes. The lawsuit specifically criticized how involuntary furloughs often occurred “quickly and with little notice,” and did not consider whether the furloughs would cause further harm.
The lawsuit also questions whether students will be able to obtain adequate academic accommodations through Student Accessibility Services, and mentions that students are currently unable to attend classes virtually, which has not changed since the lawsuit.
Now, following Thursday’s second settlement meeting between the plaintiffs and the university, the legal team hopes to continue discussing those issues.
“The parties are still in settlement discussions,” the plaintiffs’ legal team wrote in a statement to the news. “Yale’s new policy introduced in these discussions is a step, but many issues remain to be resolved. We hope to have a productive dialogue.”
Peyton Meyer ’24, one of the co-directors of the Yale Student Mental Health Association, wrote to the news that he was “really happy” with the recent changes, describing them as “a big step in the right direction.” step”.
“It’s also important to note that this is by no means the end, and that more can and should always be done to support the health of Yale students,” Meyer wrote to the news. “Addressing sickness leave and returning to work is only one part of improving student mental health support and I think there is still a need to continue to improve and expand mental health resources and should not be overshadowed by this.”
The lawsuit was filed Nov. 30.