At a Yale College Council meeting Wednesday night, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said he personally favors adding an optional $50 student activities fee to undergraduate tuition and said the administration hopes to implement the fee for next year’s tuition.
In addition to the proposed activities fee, Salovey discussed a number of issues with the YCC during the hour-long meeting, ranging from the new International Summer Award program for financial aid students that was unveiled this week to dining hall restrictions. Salovey’s comments regarding the fee mark the first time the dean has publicly endorsed adding the fee to students’ tuition, a proposal that undergraduates overwhelmingly supported in a campus-wide referendum two weeks ago.
“The will of the people has spoken,” Salovey said. “I don’t know that what’s implemented will be exactly what the YCC proposed, but it won’t be dramatically different.”
Salovey said he has been meeting with various people, including Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg, to discuss the fee since the student vote. When asked if the administration would implement the fee to be included in next year’s budget, Salovey said, “That’s what I’d like to see.”
Much of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of undergraduate financial aid. Earlier this week, Salovey rolled out the ISA program, which will help facilitate summer study and internships abroad for financial aid students. Salovey told the YCC he hopes students will take advantage of the ISA program.
“We haven’t taken all those barriers down, but I think we just took one big one down,” Salovey said, hinting that future changes to financial aid may be in the works.
Some YCC members pointed out that it is difficult for financial aid students to hold a part-time campus job while taking on a full course load.
“I did it,” Salovey said, referring to his own undergraduate years at Stanford. “I was an electrician’s helper, changing light bulbs.”
YCC Representative Govind Randgrass ’08 said the most important part of financial aid reform was to allow students on aid to take full advantage of the cultural life of the College. He said that these students ought to be able to pursue their intellectual and extracurricular interests, rather than spending their afternoons “working in libraries, putting books on shelves.”
The YCC passed a revised financial aid resolution on Wednesday night prior to the meeting with Salovey that called on the University to implement the student activities fee as well as make changes to financial aid for low-income students. But after reviewing the council’s wide-ranging resolution, Salovey advised the YCC to narrow down their resolution to focus on a few specific important recommendations.
“If you had to pick one of them as the most important thing to do, what would it be?” Salovey asked.
He encouraged them to reach for the “lower-hanging fruit” — proposals that he said are easy and inexpensive to implement.
“There are reasonable solutions without significant financial costs,” Salovey said.
The YCC encouraged Salovey to focus on changes that would affect low-income families in light of recent changes at Harvard University that waive contributions from students’ families that earn less than $40,000 per year.
Salovey also discussed dining hall restrictions with the YCC. He said that with so many dining halls maintaining varied restrictions, it has become difficult for students to have a range of dining options.
“I think we’re out of equilibrium,” Salovey said.
He said he supports Council of Masters Chair Judith Krauss’ proposal to eliminate restrictions altogether.
“Why don’t we just take all the restrictions off and see what we’ve got? I think that’s a great idea,” Salovey said.
YCC Vice President Chance Carlisle ’05 promised Salovey that the council would draft a proposal on dining hall restrictions.
“Hopefully by Monday morning we will have a resolution on the dining halls on your desk,” Carlisle said.