Ivy Council discusses student life

The Ivy Policy Conference exposed student leaders to new perspectives on campus issues.
The Ivy Policy Conference exposed student leaders to new perspectives on campus issues. Photo by Maria Zepeda.

Over 50 students from Ivy League universities gathered at Yale this weekend to discuss student policies on issues ranging from alcohol to academic honesty.

The events were part of the fifth annual Ivy Policy Conference — the first conference hosted at Yale — and involved workshops on the theme of “Academic Pressures, Resources, and Student Health & Safety.” Students from across the Ivy League shared personal experiences and opinions on the policies of their respective universities, and Lance Banks ’15, conference co-director, said the events fostered communication among Ivy League schools and allowed student leaders to gain new perspectives on campus issues.

“You can talk about topics that are both cultural and policy-related — just seeing what the experience is like at another school,” said Ryley Reynolds, the Ivy Council head delegate from Harvard. “This time, we are discussing health and wellness … which is very timely in terms of recent media topics.”

The central theme of student health and safety includes topics such as campus sexual culture and alcohol policies, as well as issues related to student stress, academic honesty and career decisions, said Naaman Mehta ’15, conference co-director.

During a lunchtime banquet at The Study hotel on Saturday, Gene Gurkoff, CEO of Charity Miles, an app that enables people to earn money for charity when exercising, encouraged students to consider career options outside law and finance.

“For people like you at one of the most respected institutions in the world, where every day is filled with philosophical questions, there is enormous institutional pressure for you to go into finance or law … and it’s not going to be putting your gifts to their best use,” Gurkoff said.

The difficulty of career choices was also the topic of a session Saturday morning, at which students discussed how finance companies have the resources to publicize themselves well on campus whereas nonprofits and other types of companies often do not.

Brandon Tomasso, vice president of the Undergraduate Council of Students at Brown, said the conference helped him identify the issues that students face at multiple colleges rather than just his own. Anthony White, president of the Undergraduate Council of Students at Brown, said he discovered that universities like Princeton and Dartmouth include students in academic dishonesty hearings — a policy he thinks could be implemented at Brown.

“[The conference] provides a diversity of perspectives outside the Brown mindset,” White said. “To get experiences about how other schools have dealt with similar problems is helpful.”

Myrel Iturrey, the Ivy Council head delegate from Dartmouth, said she was able to compare counseling services at different schools by attending a discussion on mental health awareness. Iturrey said she was inspired to consider new programs for Dartmouth after learning that Brown has a “pet day” during which students are allowed to play with dogs for stress relief.

Mehta said the Ivy Council assigned a notetaker to each workshop, adding that the group intends to release a report on the issues students discussed.

The conference was held at Brown University in 2012.

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