On Monday, the Yale College Council established a student athletics task force that will convene during the spring semester to consider topics especially relevant to student-athletes.
According to the application sent out by the YCC, members of the task force will examine student-athlete relations with the rest of the student body, academic accommodations and the social integration of student-athletes into residential college life, culminating in a comprehensive report with proposals to address these issues at the end of the semester. The task force will be composed of between five and seven Yale undergraduates.
“Although there are a lot of well-known issues that student-athletes face, there are also a lot of concerns and challenges that are not well-understood outside of the student-athlete community,” YCC President Peter Huang ’18 said. “We hope to gain a better perspective on what the issues are for student-athletes and then address them.”
In creating a student athletics task force, the YCC hopes to address a portion of the student body it has not worked with specifically in recent memory, Huang said.
The application mentions several specific issues the task force may explore, including social integration, difficulties pursuing specific majors and access to mental health resources. However, Huang said the task force will be encouraged to operate with an open mindset and adapt to the concerns presented by the student-athlete population.
The task force will meet directly with student-athletes, coaches and administrators to gather anecdotes and statistics to drive its research. In particular, the YCC may work with members of the Yale Student Athlete College Council, a student-athlete advisory committee comprised of athletes from all 33 varsity teams.
Carol Finke ’18, co-president of the YSACC and a member of the women’s varsity tennis team, said the key concerns of Yale student-athletes are mental and physical health, availability of classes and sections, dining hall accessibility and integration into the student body.
Leonard Jenkins ’20, a member of the heavyweight crew team, said he believes non-athletes sometimes dsicriminate against athletes at Yale, writing them off as inferior students who were only admitted for their sports. This sentiment contributes to a sense of division among the student body, Jenkins said.
“Student-athletes are eager for these issues to be resolved,” Finke said. “We will engage [with the YCC] in a meaningful way to assist the task force in every way possible.”
According to Finke, the YSACC has met with administrators to discuss policy changes such as extending evening dining hall hours to provide athletes increased flexibility in meal times and more opportunities to eat with classmates. She said she hopes working with the YCC will help the YSACC promote this policy, as well as others.
Last semester, the YCC organized task forces pertaining to disability resources, the cultural centers and transfer student policy as part of an effort by the current administration to bolster the role of task forces. This semester, in addition to the student athletics group, the YCC is establishing a task force to explore Yale-New Haven initiatives.
YCC Task Force Director Peter Hwang ’18 said he and Huang met directly with members of the disability resources and transfer student policy task forces to develop policy proposals for Yale administrators.
“We have always prioritized having student leaders in those communities to lead and shape the conversation,” Hwang said. “The YCC is looking forward to working with leaders in the student athletics community to better advocate for their issues.”
The application for both task forces is due on Feb. 3.