The Yale College Council’s midyear report reveals that the group made steady headway in several projects.
Released every spring, the report updates the student body on the progress the council makes on its policies and initiatives in the fall, including events, academics, task forces, and University and student life policy. The 13-page report included several major victories for the YCC, which successfully lobbied the administration to allow coed bedrooms on campus and to pilot a sophomore seminar program slated for the fall semester. Additionally, the YCC is working with the administration to extend the Credit/D/Fail deadline.
“We are also optimistic that sophomore seminars will introduce students to new subject areas that they wouldn’t have previously explored, as freshman seminars tend to do,” said YCC Vice President Christopher Bowman ’18. “In this regard, the courses might even change students’ perspectives on a potential major.”
According to the report, the Academics Committee made progress in advocacy work on previous projects, such as the sophomore seminar program and revisions to the Credit/D/Fail system. Citing the gap in seminar accessibility for second-year students as a major reason for change, a YCC report from last year recommended that the College establish some equivalent of the freshman seminar program for sophomores. Beginning next fall, departments can opt to designate certain seminars for sophomores, though the registration process and class caps have yet to be determined. After a trial period, the Yale College Dean’s Office and the YCC will review results and determine whether to implement a permanent program.
Bowman, who has worked on the project during the previous academic year in addition to last fall, said that improving seminar accessibility for sophomores will help mitigate the “middle-child syndrome” he believes sophomores tend to experience. Bowman also added that he and administrators have not discussed whether the seminars would count for credit yet.
In addition, the proposal to extend the deadline to register for a course Credit/D/Fail by two weeks has been approved by the YCDO and referred to the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for final review. Bowman said council representatives are working with Pamela Schirmeister ’80 GRD ’88, the dean of undergraduate education, on both projects.
The YCC team dedicated to the Undergraduate Learning Assistant program also examined whether more departments in Yale College should adopt the undergraduate teaching assistant model of computer science courses. The team plans to present their findings — which will be summarized in a future report — on what such an expansion would involve to the Committee on Teaching and Learning this semester.
The Transfer/Eli Whitney Student Policy Task Force recommended reforms to Eli Whitney students’ financial aid policies, which currently provides full tuition assistance but no funding for housing and health insurance, according to Task Forces Director Peter Hwang ’18. The task force also recommended improvement in orientation programming and a standardized guideline for converting credits for transfer students. The current credit conversion process operates on a case-by-case basis, as transfer students come from schools with different credit systems.
The University Services Policy Team addressed four campus concerns in the midyear report: meal plans, the reinstatement procedure after mental health withdrawal, resources for reporting sexual misconduct and student employment. The team determined that undergraduates are interested in having a block meal plan which allows a set number of meal swipes to be used at any time over the current plan and seeks to continue collaboration with Yale Dining and Hospitality to advocate for the change.
Regarding mental health and counseling, the team reported that it is focusing on making the reinstatement process more transparent. The team also used the 2016 YCC survey to gauge student interests in an online reporting system for sexual misconduct, as well as reporting systems for multiple types of harassment.
The team is also working to help improve the student employment website to make it more user-friendly and allow updates on job application status from employers.
On the student life front, separate teams have worked on expanding the accessibility of pre-orientation programs given the impending student-body expansion, examining the increase in off-campus housing and looking at whether seminar-style diversity training is necessary.
Joe English ’17, former president of the YCC, said that he was pleased with the progress on mixed gender housing and sophomore seminar programs, which had issues discussed during his term as president.
“It’s great that they’ve been moving forward with the report that we published last spring and we advocated a number of reforms last spring,” he said. “So it’s really great to see that they’ve got the ball rolling on [sophomore seminars] and that there will be a series of pilots going out next year.”