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
"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.