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Community News
Student Settles Suit With University
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 23 page 18-18

George Washington University and a former student there, Jordan Nott, reached an agreement to resolve a lawsuit filed by Nott last fall against the university. Nott had been ordered to leave the university after seeking hospitalization for depression in 2004.

In a joint statement released by Nott and the university, Nott said," I hope that this difficult experience will result in positive changes in how student mental health issues are handled at campuses across the country. And I certainly hope that other universities will not discipline their students for seeking mental health treatment."

The terms of the settlement were not released.

University provost and vice president for health affairs, John Williams, M.D., called it a "very difficult situation" in the same statement. "We were attempting to serve the best interests of Mr. Nott while also considering the well-being of all of our students," he said." While we recognize that some steps in the process may not have been perfect, we stand by the result. We appreciate Mr. Nott's support in resolving this matter, and we wish him continued success." (Nott withdrew from the university in 2005.)

Also in the statement, Karen Bower, an attorney for Nott from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, said she hopes that the case prompts universities to adopt policies that do not penalize students for seeking mental health treatment and that are not linked to the disciplinary process.

"It is important that any policy provide for individualized determinations of whether a student can remain on campus based on an objective medical evaluation after discharge from a hospital, without rigid rules based solely upon the fact of hospitalization," she said.

David Fassler, M.D., a member of APA's Corresponding Committee on College Mental Health, also welcomed the news. "I'm glad that more and more colleges are revising their policies to eliminate discriminatory provisions that discourage students from seeking treatment for psychiatric disorders," he said.

He added that APA has been working collaboratively with organizations including the AMA, the JED Foundation, and Active Minds to help colleges develop appropriate policies and guidelines around these issues.

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