A class action lawsuit against Stanford is accusing the university of discriminating against students with mental health problems by forcing them into taking leaves of absence.
According to the New York Times, this is part of a larger pushback from students against leave of absence policies, which they can jeopardize a student’s academic career, further damage their mental health and might prevent a student from seeking help in the first place.
A university can ask a student to leave if they present a harm to others, but it’s less clear what a university can or should do if the student might harm themselves. In some cases, a leave of absence is an opportunity for a student to get away from the stressors of school and might be the best option. But how does a university or a counselor make that call? Should it ever be mandatory? In what ways should a school accommodate and help students with mental health issues on campus?
If you are in need of support, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, for free and confidential help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Connie Horton, licensed psychologist and vice president for student affairs at Pepperdine University; former director of the Counseling Center at Pepperdine and Illinois Wesleyan universities
Daniel Kolodziej, partner with Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad, an education and employment law firm in Los Angeles; Daniel has experience representing college students in suits involving universities