Report Evaluates Mental Health Leave of Absence Policies at all Ivy League Schools

A new report from the Ruderman Family Foundation has analyzed mental health leave of absence policies for students at all eight Ivy League institution, giving each one a failing grade.

Each Ivy League was graded on 15 indicators that include the details of the leave of absence and the process of returning back to school after the leave. The University of Pennsylvania received a D+, the highest grade by the foundation. Princeton, Brown and Columbia received a D. Harvard tied with Cornell and both earned a D-, and Yale and Dartmouth both earned F’s.

The report examined leaves of absence policies and argued that many institutions use this type of policy as a “tool for discrimination” by insistently removing students who receive accommodations and support that’s federally entitled to them.

Jay Ruderman

“The Ivy League schools are the most elite in our nation, and they are failing to provide leadership that the sector of higher education desperately needs,” Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation told The Cornell Daily Sun.

With regard to Cornell, the elite institution’s leave of absence policies were deemed “problematic” by the report, stating that the policy doesn’t allow leaves of absence after the last day of classes concludes. Moreover, after a student is on leave they don’t have a contact person or liaison to communicate with, students can’t enter campus while on leave and it doesn’t discuss any assistance in obtaining housing for the student once they come back from the leave of absence, the report said.

In December, a student-led Mental Health Task Force formally submitted recommendations to Ryan Lombardi, Cornell’s vice president of student and campus life, that included proposals to help students without housing find a place to live in Ithaca during their leaves of absence and for Cornell to create a more detailed support system for students that decide to go on a leave of absence.

Monica Levitan can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @monlevy_.

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