A student tells us, "The university, with all of its wonderful resources and incredible community, is severely lacking in its mental health support execution." This thought is echoed by other Harvard students in The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University's student-run newspaper, which reports that, "For the past 10 years, students have called for [Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS)] to reform its care timeline, which provides only short-term counseling with sessions spaced out every two to three weeks." Wait times for appointments at CAMHS can be a month or longer, though in 2022, Harvard partnered with an outside vendor, TimelyCare, to offer a telehealth counseling option for Harvard students in an attempt to reduce wait times.
As is the case with the rest of the Ivy League universities, Harvard does not have a Student of Concern reporting page. However, this does not make its approach to "handling" students in distress any less draconian. As The Harvard Crimson reports, Harvard's leave policy places a heavy burden on students to "prove" they are stable when the administration should instead be reaching out to offer support. For example, during their time away, students must work a "full-time, paid, non-academic job in a non-family owned or run business for at least six consecutive months before petitioning for readmission to the College." When they return, some students are required to sign a contract mandating psychiatric treatment and attendance at University Health Services workshops.
One positive development we're seeing at Harvard is the new emphasis on providing training and resources to help Harvard students support each other, though one can't help but wonder if the weight of the student mental health crisis has simply crushed most university health services to their breaking point. One such resource is peer support, which is actually not a new thing. Harvard students have been running a peer support group since 1971.
Still, a student tells us, "Though there are lots of active resources to support students at my university, I oftentimes feel burdened to ask my professors for help. Even with the resources available at my school, it's at my professor's discretion to decide how to apply my accommodations." Another student tells us that it's not just the ableism on campus. "Unfortunately, when I think of my personal, adverse experiences with Harvard University, racism comes to mind before ableism, although the organization has its fair share of both."
Jody L. Freeman, a Harvard Law School professor and founder of the Environmental and Energy Law Program, is paid $350,000 per year to serve on the board of ConocoPhillips, whose Willow Project was recently approved by the Biden administration to drill for oil in Alaska. Harvard students are calling on Freeman to resign from the board.
At least five armed Harvard University Police Department officers raided an undergraduate suite in Leverett House in response to a false 911 call about an armed individual in the suite early Monday morning.
The four Harvard College seniors in the suite, who are Black, awoke to the sound of banging on their door. Moments later, HUPD officers ordered them into the hallway at gunpoint.
HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said in an interview that Harvard University Police were dispatched to the building after a report “threatening violence against occupants.” The officers searched the Leverett House suite with “negative results for an individual with a firearm or any persons acting in a suspicious manner,” Catalano said.
In 2020, after Lilia Kilburn, a graduate student, filed a formal complaint notifying Harvard University that an anthropology professor was sexually harassing her, an investigation was opened, as required by federal law.
What happened next stunned Ms. Kilburn, according to her lawyers.
In the course of that investigation, Harvard obtained notes from her psychotherapy sessions, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week in Boston, and gave them to John Comaroff — the professor she had accused of kissing, hugging and groping her — who then used them to try to undermine her credibility, according to the lawsuit.
In the wide-ranging lawsuit by Ms. Kilburn and two other graduate students, Ms. Kilburn accuses Harvard of obtaining her confidential therapy records without her consent and then giving them to Dr. Comaroff, as well as to other Harvard officials.