Following a slew of allegations that Stanford discriminates against and refuses to accommodate students with mental health issues, the University has begun the new year with a clear plan for how it will prioritize campus support resources and the students who need them. At the top of the list? Counseling and Psychological Services has started offering free pats on the back and pictures of cats to all who seek their services.
For some, the class-action lawsuit filed last spring claiming that Stanford had forced multiple students to take leaves of absences and give up their housing suggested that Stanford wasn’t particularly interested in addressing mental health issues unless its reputation was on the line. Luckily, the new CAPS curriculum makes it clear that the University does care, and in fact, is best friends with everyone. Under this new “CAPS 2.0,” students no longer need struggle alone; instead, when times get tough, trained professionals will be on hand to deliver a light shoulder squeeze or a cute gif of a puppy playing with a rabbit.
“We realize how stressful life at Stanford can be,” explained CAPS Director Leslie Slortt in a press release. “Between rigorous classwork, extracurricular demands and social complexities — plus any of the millions other things that might be going on in a person’s life — there has to be a time and space to relax and find yourself. Stanford believes there’s nothing quite like the brief touch of a near-stranger or a watermarked jpeg of frogs playing poker to help students get back on their feet.”
Of course, even with this new path forward, Stanford has still faced some criticism for how it addresses mental health resources — namely, the ongoing debate over wait times and accessibility.
“My CAPS appointments kept getting bumped without explanation,” said Mark Kipple, a sophomore who has struggled with depression. “I guess it was worth it, though. When I finally met with a counselor, they showed me this really funny picture of a dolphin jumping through a hoop with the caption, ‘Your life has porpoise!’ So that was nice.”