The Yale College Council sent out its annual fall survey in early November to gather student opinion about possible reforms to work toward in the coming semester.

Although YCC faces a $30,000 budget decrease this year, the group is currently assessing a variety of policies linked to university services, student life and academics based on student feedback from the survey. Next semester, representatives will present reports on issues including summer opportunity funding, shopping-period logistics, student connections to career resources, dining hall accessibility and grade transparency to relevant Yale College deans. According to YCC Academics Director Sal Rao ’20, this year’s executive board has tailored the YCC’s projects to align more closely with current committees within the Yale College Dean’s Office in hopes of delivering more immediate results to the Yale community.

“In the past, there’s been a real disconnect between the student body’s actual concerns and taking them to the YCC because there’s a belief that YCC is a body that can’t actually solve these problems,” Rao said. “Hopefully with the projects that we finish this semester, the credibility of YCC will be bumped a bit, and this will only create a positive feedback cycle where students feel more inclined to bring their concerns to the YCC.”

According to YCC Vice President Nick Girard ’19, survey data showed that the financial accessibility of summer opportunities was one of the biggest concerns among students on financial aid, 53 percent of whom reported that they have turned down internships and other summer opportunities for financial reasons. YCC representatives will be researching possible solutions before submitting formal recommendations to the Dean’s office next semester. Still, Girard said, the Domestic Summer Award, announced in early November, marked a step towards this goal for the YCC.

The YCC will also focus on shopping period, Girard said, since 70 percent of respondents called it either “stressful” or “very stressful.” In an effort to alleviate this pressure, the Council’s academic teams are focusing on the accessibility of attendance-capped courses, an especially pressing issue in light of the recent growth of the undergraduate class, according to Rao. The teams are also focusing on syllabi availability during reading period. Rao said that the academic policy teams will present these recommendations to the Advising, Placement and Enrollment committee within the Yale College Dean’s office and are likely to see tangible results within the next semester.

“Our reports aren’t going to be sitting anywhere at the end of the semester, they’re going straight to development committees,” Rao said. “The development committees are eagerly awaiting [YCC] reps’ analysis and [the Dean’s office committees] are the ones who make university policy change, so if we want to make any sort of a difference, that’s the channel we have to take.”

Rao added that the academic teams are also focusing on connecting pre-law students and first years to career advising resources as large majorities of both groups reported little engagement with the Office of Career Strategy and other advising resources at Yale. To this end, Rao said, team members plan to work with the events committee to plan advising sessions, workshops and conferences specifically tailored to these groups of students.

These goals come in part from student survey feedback.

“A lot of students have a strong interest in improving the academic experience at Yale and making sure that everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of all of Yale’s resources,” Girard said.

YCC University Services Director Heidi Dong ’20 said her team is currently working on reforms concerning shuttle services and dining facilities. Dong said committees are analyzing current shuttle routes to optimize routes for regular student traffic and to determine whether to add or change stops. YCC members have met with administrators in the Parking and Transit Service and plan to continually contact the group to determine the feasibility of their recommendations.

With regard to dining projects, Dong said that committees are working with Yale Hospitality administrators to discuss possible changes to dining hall hours to better accommodate student schedules. The fall survey found that a majority of students would be in support of Durfee’s dinner swipes, and Dong said that team members may investigate dining swipe flexibility in the future.

“Throughout all these projects, we are really striving to take student perspectives and then work with administrators to develop solutions,” Dong said. “It is important to us that students’ voices are represented, and it is also important to us that we have that dialogue with administrators so that we can implement long-lasting change together.”

According to Girard, student life committees are working on a variety of projects including shipping solutions, such as implementing Amazon lockers on campus as many peer institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, have already done. These committees are also focusing on the availability of menstrual products on campus, the move-out deadline, summer activity funding and resources to reduce seasonal affective disorder.

The Yale College Council was established in 1972.

Natalie Wright | natalie.wright.nw287@yale.edu