October 31, 2006
Joint Statement From The George Washington University
and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Regarding the Lawsuit by Former Student Jordan Nott
The George Washington University and one of its former students, Jordan Nott, today announced that they have reached an agreement to resolve the lawsuit filed by Mr. Nott last fall against the University and several other entities regarding his October 2004 mental health hospitalization, the University's interim suspension, and his subsequent withdrawal from GW.
"I hope that this difficult experience will result in positive changes in how student mental health issues are handled at campuses across the country," said Mr. Nott. "And I certainly hope that other universities will not discipline their students for seeking mental health treatment."
"This was a very difficult situation. We were attempting to serve the best interests of Mr. Nott while also considering the well being of all of our students," said Dr. John F. Williams, GW provost and vice president for health affairs. "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."
"We are pleased that GW is reviewing and revising its policies, and hope that Jordan's case and others will prompt 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," said Karen Bower, from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, one of Mr. Nott's attorneys.
All parties stressed that students should seek professional help in times of need. The University Counseling Center, Student Health Services, GW Hospital, and referrals for other services are indicative of the types of services available to GW students. Every year, GW's University Counseling Center provides services to hundreds of students, helping them to remain successfully engaged in their school.
All parties have agreed that the terms of the settlement are confidential. Mr. Nott was represented in his case by the Bazelon Center, and two private attorneys, Stephen Chertkof and Allen Bachman.
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