Report Announces Enhancements to Policies on Student Medical Leave and Hospitalization

Published in MIT News on March 17, 2017, by Kimberly Haberlin, Office of the Chancellor

Committee outlines strategies for building student trust in support systems, encouraging help-seeking, and providing coordinated, compassionate care.

In a letter to the MIT community today, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart and Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis released the Committee on Medical Leave and Hospitalizations (CMLH) report outlining ways to enhance MIT’s current leave and hospitalization procedures and policies for undergraduate and graduate students.

“Last year’s Committee on Academic Performance review of undergraduate leave and return practices discovered that, while less than 1 percent of MIT students are hospitalized or take leave for mental health reasons every year, these issues create anxiety in many students and can become a barrier to their seeking care,” wrote Barnhart and Stuopis. “This finding troubled us and demanded a further examination. That’s why we formed the CMLH and charged this group of faculty, students, and staff with assessing our current practices and policies and making recommendations for change.”

The CMLH, which was co-chaired by Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences professors Rebecca Saxe and Laura Schulz, gathered feedback from the MIT community through two open forums, a community survey, and direct outreach to faculty members, deans, and student groups. This feedback, coupled with an examination of MIT’s current policies, the Committee on Academic Performance’s findings, and conversations with peer institutions, led the committee to make recommendations to “increase students’ trust in support services, reduce their fear and suspicion, create a climate in which students who need help are most likely and able to seek it, and to improve students’ experience even in these difficult circumstances..."

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