For a university often criticized for its silence, Yale should be commended in its recent forays into the national spotlight. A few months after Yale President Richard Levin questioned the success of higher education’s early decision policies, Yale has now challenged the flawed “Drug Free Student Aid” provision of the Higher Education Act, a law that arbitrarily links drug offenses with financial aid.
Currently, the provision denies federal financial aid to any student convicted of drug possession. Yale’s new policy will reimburse the lost aid of penalized students with a combination of loans and grants, on the condition that they attend a special drug rehabilitation program at Undergraduate Health Services.
With its decision to replace aid, Yale became just the fourth — and by far the most prestigious — school to voice its criticism.
The University’s decision is all the more heartening because it seemingly reflects a real responsiveness to undergraduate opinion. Student groups from the News to the Yale College Council to the Student Legal Action Movement all strongly opposed the “Drug Free Student Aid” provision and called on the administration to take action against it. But it was far from a foregone conclusion that the University would listen.
We hope Yale’s decision will now provide an example for other schools who oppose the spirit of the “Drug Free Student Aid” provision but have declined to publicly stand up to it.