The Yale College Council announced another step forward in the process to reform mental health procedures yesterday.
YCC President Danny Avraham ’15 recently presented university administrators with recommendations compiled by the Council’s Mental Health Task Force on withdrawal policy. A report on these recommendations, which are now available online, offers three “big ideas” for change: allowing more students to take a leave of absence as opposed to a withdrawal, considering circumstances for readmission on a case-by-case basis and clarifying withdrawal and leave of absence policies to students. Avraham said he will continue to work with University President Peter Salovey, Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews and members of the Yale College Dean’s Office in the upcoming weeks to review the policies and recommendations.
Students who take a leave of absence decide on their own how much time they need away from Yale, and need only inform their residential college dean when they wish to return. In contrast, students who withdraw from Yale College, regardless of whether or not they did so voluntarily, may be required to spend up to two semesters away and have to be readmitted in order to return. Specifically, the report recommended that the deadline to take a leave of absence, which is currently set at ten days into the semester, to be pushed back to midterm. After this deadline, students who choose to leave Yale would be considered withdrawn.
The second “big idea” stresses the importance of allowing flexibility to a student who left or withdrew, depending on their respective cases. For instance, the YCC recommends that students be allowed to petition for access to University resources. The requirements for their return, which currently includes taking courses, finding employment and seeking medical care, should also be determined based on each individual, the report specified. Furthermore, because withdrawn students currently receive their readmission decisions only days before the start of a new term, the YCC recommends that they be notified earlier to arrange travel and housing.
Finally, the YCC recommends that information on medical record confidentiality and withdrawal and readmission policy be consolidated and centralized.
“Information about taking time away from Yale is currently housed across at least four locations, an unnecessary difficulty for students,” the report states.
According to Avraham, the YCC is currently developing recommendations to improve conditions for students taking time off to pursue unique job opportunities.
The Yale College Council released a 41-page report on mental health in September 2013.