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Yale responds to WaPo report on suicidal students forced to withdraw

Yale University officials responded with multiple letters last week following a Washington Post article about suicidal students being forced to withdraw and reapply.

The Washington Post published an article on Nov. 11 reporting that current and former students claimed they were pressured by university administrators to withdraw once their mental health issues became known, after which they had to go through a process of tedious request to return to the school.

More than 25 current and former Yale students told the outlet they were upset by what they described as Yale’s inadequate policies and services for students facing a mental health crisis, despite the staffing of $41.4 billion from the institution.

In cases reported by those who spoke with The Washington Post, some students had no response after seeking mental health assistance, while others received limited counseling sessions. Others argued they were keeping their mental struggles hidden to avoid Yale’s withdrawal policies, which would have pressured such students to leave campus in as little as 72 hours or less.

Cross Campus of Yale University looking towards Sterling Library in the fall of 2013 in New Haven, Connecticut
Twenty-five Yale students said they were upset with the university’s mental health services.
Editorial Moment/Getty Images

Following the story, Yale College Dean Pericles Lewis and Yale Director of Mental Health and Counseling Dr. Paul Hoffman published a letter in The Washington Post objecting to his reporting. The letter claimed the report ignored Yale’s “complex and nuanced effort” to address student mental health, warning that the article “could put more students at risk” by making them believe they should stay at school. school regardless of their mental health.

President Peter Salovey also posted a letter on the school’s website in response to backlash from Yale alumni because of the story.

“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 welfare. The article does not acknowledge the support, processes and policies in place or the positive outcomes associated with our work. »

Yale University Calhoun College
Yale responded with several letters challenging the Washington Post report.
Editorial Moment/Getty Images

The Washington Post then published a follow-up article last Friday in which the outlet interviewed Lewis about how the school could potentially change its withdrawal policy in the near future.

“I wanted to make it clear that the mental health of our students is a very, very high priority and that we seek to pursue the policies and practices that are going to ensure that,” Lewis said. “In particular, it will help prevent suicide. And it is the basis of our decision-making and nothing else.

Alicia Floyd, a former Yale student who attempted suicide in 2000, told the newspaper that college administrators “missed all the point of the article and the students who had the courage to speak out.” .

“The problem is how well they can get them to leave and come back. And how it discourages people in pain from seeking help or taking the time they need,” Floyd added.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free, confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24/7 at 988 or go to

New York Post

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