February 3, 2016

Student Assembly Aims to Alter Health Leave of Absence Policy

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The Student Assembly is attempting to modify the current health leave of absence policy, by proposing a change which would allow students to procure funds to continue to reside in Ithaca rather than returning to potentially abusive or unsupportive home situations.

Under the current policy, when a student takes a health leave of absence they are not classified as students anymore and cannot live on campus, according to Yamini Bhandari ’17, the undergraduate student-elected trustee.

To help students who feel they may need a health leave of absence but cannot return home, the S.A. hopes to establish a fund that would allow these students to afford local housing, meals and health access if they needed it, according to Matthew Indimine ’18, co-chair of the S.A. health and wellness committee.

“For a lot of people, returning home is just not an option and that deters them from taking a leave that would improve their health significantly,” Indimine said.

Additionally, Indimine said that some students chose not to take a health leave of absence and not to return home due to difficult home environments and conflicts with family members.

As a result, there have been instances when students who take health leaves of absence are forced to return home and cannot come back to Cornell, according to Bhandari.

“Some people who end up taking mental health leave don’t come back, because they come from abusive households or they’re not able to get the treatment they need,” Bhandari said. “This is difficult because these are people who obviously got into Cornell and have the potential to do well here, but are struggling with something that a lot of people struggle with.”

“Ideally this would probably be something that starts next year,” Bhandari said. “We are currently looking at what resources are available, if there are any kinds of grants already.”

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