In an effort to mitigate concerns about a readmissions process that some students have called confusing and isolating, the Yale College Council has proposed a program that would connect students who have gone through the readmissions process with those who are currently applying to return to the University.
The program — which would operate similarly to the existing Peer Liaison program at the cultural centers, the LGBTQ Resource Center, the Chaplain’s Office and the Office of International Students and Scholars — would help students who withdraw from Yale stay connected with the campus community, YCC President Michael Herbert ’16 said. Herbert presented the project proposal at the YCC meeting Sunday evening, where it was unanimously approved. The proposed YCC initiative would allow students applying for readmission to draw on the expertise of students who had successfully completed the process.
“Yale has a way of making people feel at home, but when you’re cut off from that, it’s an even bigger blow [than withdrawing in the first place],” said Elizabeth Aslinger ’15, who first proposed the idea to Herbert two weeks ago. “Just having someone who can be your point of contact for that time, who can help you figure out how to get back, would make the process 10 times better. It sounds so simple, but it would really work.”
While Aslinger said the project is still in a preliminary stage and the details have not been finalized, the proposal calls for readmitted and withdrawn students to be paired based on the withdrawn student’s needs and questions.
She added that the liaisons would serve not as a bureaucratic link to the administration but as interpreters of the administration’s rules and regulations. Yale’s requirements for readmission are clear, Aslinger said, citing the stipulation that withdrawn students must complete two course credits. However, how students should best complete those requirements in practice is not as obvious, she said.
“It’s hard for students to figure out, ‘What exactly should I be doing with this time? What classes should I be taking? What job should I take? How much is a therapist? How do I decide where to live?’” Aslinger said. “That’s very difficult for people to figure out, and having someone else to be able to touch base with, just as a sounding board even, [would be helpful].”
But a student who is currently withdrawn, and who asked to remain anonymous, said a peer liaison program would not address the more fundamental issues with the readmission process, including the financial burden involved with taking two classes.
Although a peer liaison could answer a withdrawn student’s questions about certain details in the process, the anonymous student said the liaison would simply be an unnecessary intermediary between themselves and the administration.
“My first reaction [when hearing about this program] was just: ‘Why?’” the student said. “What problem does this solve? [Peer liaisons] are great, but they don’t … change the requirements for readmission, and they don’t have the power to tailor a student’s readmission plan to his or her needs. In fact, in many cases, they are just another step removed from the authority figures that can actually help.”
Aslinger agreed that the liaisons would not be spokespeople for the administration, nor would they be qualified to give therapeutic advice. Still, she said they would act as an important conduit, especially to students who do not feel comfortable directly reaching out to their dean or other administrators.
Even if a student does reach out to administrators, she said, they are often busy and may not be able to respond as quickly as student liaisons.
Another student in Trumbull College, who has gone through the readmissions process and also asked to remain anonymous, said communicating with their residential college dean was never an issue. The student maintained contact with Trumbull Dean Jasmina Besirevic-Regan through Facebook and was able to maintain an informal correspondence with her throughout the process.
“My dean went through the process with me blow by blow and was incredibly supportive,” the student said.
Still, the student supported a liaison program, adding that it would have been a helpful additional resource when applying for readmission.
Although the YCC project is still in its initial stages, Herbert said both English professor John Rogers, who is chairman of a committee tasked with re-evaluating University readmission policies, and Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway were receptive to the proposal.
“The attention the YCC has paid to the matter of withdrawal and readmission in Yale College has been incredibly valuable,” Rogers said in an email to the News. “When the review committee is given a copy of the new proposal, we will give it our most serious attention.”
Assistant Dean of Yale College Pamela George, who oversees the readmissions process, could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.
According to George, between 80 and 100 students apply for readmission each year.