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Harvard Law School Student Leaders Call for Release of 2017 Mental Health Survey Data

Langdell Hall
Langdell Hall houses the Harvard Law School Library.

After years of student activism urging Harvard Law School to publish the results of a 2017 student mental health survey, Student Government Co-Presidents Princess Daisy M. A. Akita ’15 and Daniel M. Egel-Weiss are joining calls to pressure the school to share the information.

Akita and Egel-Weiss said in an interview Monday that mental health has remained a priority during their tenure and they hope the school will commit to fulfilling this request.

“We had a very productive meeting with Dean Manning about this very issue that lasted for over an hour, and we’ve spoken with him on this topic, numerous other times,” Egel-Weiss said. “And as I’ve said, we’re very excited to see the package of reforms that he has promised, and that the administration generally has shown interest in pursuing.”

Harvard Law School Spokesperson Jeff Neal wrote in an emailed statement Thursday that the data was presented at a March 2018 meeting after data collection concluded in January 2018.

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“In the fall of 2018, the School created the HLS Student Well-Being Working Group, which includes student, staff and faculty members, to further analyze the survey data and make recommendations on how we can even more effectively support students’ mental health needs,” he wrote.

While there was an open invitation for students, faculty, and stakeholders to attend the 2018 event, the mental health survey results are not online. Therefore, students who did not attend the 55-minute question and answer session cannot access the results.

Dean of Students Marcia Sells wrote in an email to students Tuesday — ahead of the American Bar Association’s Law School Mental Health Day Oct. 10 — reiterating the scope of Harvard Law School’s mental health programs.

“In recent years, the ABA, the legal profession, Harvard Law School, and law schools across the nation have rightly focused new attention on the important mental health challenges that many law students and lawyers experience,” she wrote.

Sells neither mentioned the survey results nor described upcoming Law School mental health initiatives, which Akita and Egel-Weiss said Monday they had expected to be included.

Neal wrote in his statement that the mental health working group plans to share survey findings and suggestions for future programming later this year.

“The Working Group is expected to share with the HLS community in December both a summary of survey findings as well as recommendations,” Neal wrote.

Akita and Egel-Weiss wrote in an emailed statement Thursday that they felt the Oct. 8 email was “inadequate.”

“First, after two years of analyzing the Fall 2017 survey data, the school has not released a full and anonymized report of the data, failing to deliver on promises made to our predecessors, and their predecessors,” Akita and Egel-Weiss wrote. “This data should be accessible to all students, and not simply students who are able to attend an in-person presentation. An email to students establishing a timeline for this full release would have been a good start.”

—Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at michelle.kurilla@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla.

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