This article contains mentions of suicide.
I got into Yale on a pipe dream. I showed up in clothes no one else was wearing. I had a miserable, miserable, miserable first year. I didn’t even try with Yale Mental Health and Counseling. I had good enough insurance to see a private therapist, and I eventually got better.
Some don’t. Some can’t go to a private therapist.
I’ve learned a lot at Yale. One of the most important things I learned was genuine honesty. I learned how to look someone in the eye and say, “You’re being rude.” I learned how to say, “I’m sorry, I’m having a bad day, and I took it out on you.” I’ve learned to write to Yale: You are greedy, and it costs lives.
I could tell you exactly how Yale has failed us regarding mental health care, as other well-written and important columns have done. We know there is not enough staff; the medical withdrawal policies are terrible; and every email that ends with “If you ask for support, you will get it” is true in the moment but is not lasting. Right now, we’ll ask for support and get it because eyes are on Yale. In a month, we will ask for support and get it after a few weeks, in the form of a short session every other week.
I slept with the one letter Yale sent me by my bed every night. I barely ever talked about applying. I was so in love with the idea of going to a school like this that I couldn’t jeopardize it by speaking aloud.
I’ve come to realize that Yale doesn’t love me back. My head of college does, and many of my professors do. Yale Christian Union, The Yale Globalist and Pauli Murray College love me. The people of Yale are kind; the corporation is greedy. When it comes to my welfare — the bright fall of my first year when I couldn’t touch anything without washing my hands, the long winter of my sophomore year when I couldn’t get out of bed after my grandfather’s October death by suicide — I didn’t have Yale to rely on because the Yale that I had to turn to is a company concerned with wealth and image.
Outside care is the only reason I’m able to write this now and the only reason I survived those seasons of my life.
It is with love — not for Yale’s architecture, history or reputation — that I write this. The Yale I love is the people who have shown up because they were promised light and truth and have had to come to terms with the fact that it is a place that excels at making life hard and sleepless and will not give you a therapist.
The Yale that makes decisions is only interested in wealth. First years should have never been allowed on campus for remote learning. There was no moral reason to bring these students, less than a year into adulthood, to a place with so few hours of sunlight, such mind-bending rigor and so much isolation. There was only the financial incentive.
I am furious. I told my mother that I was only destined to go to Yale to learn that money is bad, that money makes you bad. “Love of money,” she replied, quoting 1 Timothy. “For the love of money is the root of all of evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
We are pierced with many sorrows now. Yale has 31 billion dollars, some of the most knowledgeable scholars alive and an institutional, deep-rooted and inarguably moral issue with greed. Yale has a student body that bleeds on the corporation’s behalf. The Yale Corporation does not listen to students desperate for help because ignoring them is cheaper. Most heartbreaking is that many of the deans, heads of colleges and professors would listen. But this decision is not in their hands. It seems that the decision to be an upright institution — to spend money on students in need — is a decision few claim to have power over. Someone can make this choice, though, and must.
To the Yale Corporation: We asked to come here because you said you were a force for good — an institution with wealth and ability and a determination to do good. We trusted you, loved you and left our families and homes to be a part of you. It is time for you to love us back. I’ve spent time wondering why you don’t. I’ve looked for any reason but wealth, and still, I’m left to think that it is wealth and wealth alone that keeps Yale from protecting us.
If you are a person who makes these decisions, reading this column and thinking that I am harsh, young and ungrateful, I want to reiterate: I am grateful to my professors, my dean, my head of college and my friends. But for the corporation, I have one question: Why are your billions of dollars not enough to make 18-year-olds, miles and miles from home, feel safe?
ABIGAIL GRIMES is a junior in Pauli Murray College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.