Yale University has dropped threats to suspend 20-year-old student Frances Chan for being too thin.
The controversy began when Chan, who weighs 92 pounds, went to a Yale medical clinic to check a lump in her breast, which turned out to be benign.
However, while she was there, a clinician expressed concern about her low weight. The clinician told Chan she would be required to meet with her for weekly weigh-ins.
“These appointments were not optional,” Chan wrote in a March essay in The Huffington Post. “The clinician threatened to put me on medical leave if I did not comply: ‘If it were up to the administration, school would already be out for you. I’m just trying to help.’”
However, Chan insists she does not have an eating disorder, and that she has always been naturally slender.
“I’ve always been small,” she writes in the Huffington Post. “I’ve been 5’2” and 90 pounds since high school, but it has never led to any illnesses related to low weight or malnutrition. My mom was the same; my whole family is skinny. We all enjoy Mom’s fabulous cooking, which included Taiwanese beef noodle soup, tricolor pasta, strawberry cheesecake, and cream puffs, none of which make the Weight Watchers shortlist. I just don’t gain weight easily.”
Despite Chan’s repeated insistence that she did not have an eating disorder, the clinician told her she had to gain “at least two more pounds,” and submitted her to “weekly weigh-ins and urine tests, three blood tests, appointments with a mental health counselor and a nutritionist, and even an EKG done to test my heart.”
Even when Chan’s mother contacted the school to explain that her daughter had always been naturally thin, but healthy, officials still insisted Chan needed to gain weight.
It took months of pleading, an even a letter to university President Peter Salovey, to change officials’ minds.
“Just visited Yale Health with my parents and met with a new doctor,” Chan posted on her Facebook page Friday. “She apologized repeatedly for the ‘months of anguish’ I went through and admitted that BMI is not the end all be all. She also looked at my medical records since freshman year (which the previous clinician had not done) and noted that she saw that my weight had remained around the same. So she trusts that I do not have an eating disorder and admitted that ‘we made a mistake.’”
Yale University officials said they were unable comment directly on Chan’s situation, but university spokesman Tom Conroy told Yahoo Shine in an email, “Yale provides exceptional health care services, and the health and welfare of all of our students is our primary concern.”