The Yale College Council passed a resolution Wednesday calling on Yale to replace any federal financial aid lost under the “Drug Free Student Aid Provision” of the Higher Education Act of 1998.
The provision denies federal financial aid to students with drug-related convictions, and Yale does not give financial aid to students who do not qualify for federal aid.
The resolution, which passed 24 to 1 with one abstention, asks that a temporary committee be created this year in the financial aid office to supervise implementation of the aid-replacement program.
Andrew Allison ’04, the resolution’s author, said the provision punishes students who have already been punished by their parents and by federal law.
“I think the Drug Free Student Aid Provision is morally wrong and practically unnecessary,” he said.
Allison also said the requirement for regaining aid — completion of an approved drug rehabilitation program — unfairly affects those with fewer financial resources.
“Most public programs have really long waiting lists, and most private ones are costly,” Allison said.
Several YCC members expressed the opinion that the resolution’s greatest impact would be the example it set for other universities.
“The point is that we are making a national statement,” Evan LePatner ’03 said.
YCC Secretary Ryan Sheely ’04, who was the only dissenter, said he agreed with the spirit of the resolution but disagreed with its wording, which he felt was too strong. He said he would prefer the “case-by-case” policy reflected in an earlier draft of the resolution.
“I feel that there are a wide range of cases that fall under this — I felt that this [resolution] was sort of tying the administration’s hands,” Sheely said.
Student governments at many colleges across the country have signed similar resolutions, and many college governing bodies have considered the issue, Allison said.
The Higher Education Act was originally passed in 1965 with the intention of establishing federal financial aid programs to make higher education more available to Americans of all socioeconomic levels. The anti-drug provision was part of a new version signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Under the provision, students who are convicted of possession of a controlled substance lose one year of aid eligibility. A second offense leads to two years without aid, and a third offense makes students ineligible indefinitely. Sale of a controlled substance has swifter consequences for aid eligibility.
The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that 34,000 people nationwide will be affected by the provision.