The Yale College Council announced plans this week to expand its disposable menstrual products program, reduce the costs of student services and bolster mental health initiatives.

At the core of their multiple goals this year, leaders of the YCC stressed at a weekly press meeting, is an effort to ensure undergraduates feel that the council represents them and their needs.

“We need to get things done for students where they can say, ‘This is what the YCC did for me,’” YCC President Sal Rao ’20 told the News.

Near the end of the last academic year, Heidi Dong ’20, YCC vice president and previously the YCC’s University Services director, established a pilot program to distribute disposable menstrual products. During the pilot, three residential colleges — Morse, Silliman and Berkeley — all provided free disposable menstrual products in a variety of locations within college grounds.

This semester, Dong said the YCC hopes to continue and expand the program, with the eventual goal of having Yale itself fund and maintain the initiative.

“We do have some data we want to analyze in terms of usage, response, reception, and so we’re going to sift through that data,” Dong told the News. “Our hope is that we can advocate with the Dean’s Office and show that this is something that students want and support and something that really improves the quality of life for Yale students.”

The YCC is also exploring the possibility of partnerships with external companies, Rao said. As a result of the organization’s partnership with Lyft — the popular ride-sharing company — each Yale undergraduate received an email last week with $10 Lyft credit, as well as some tips on ride-sharing safety.

Rao used the example of that partnership to discuss the idea of working with different companies to provide free and subsidized student services.

“Private partnerships are something the YCC is definitely going to look into this upcoming year,” Rao said. “Whether that be with Lyft, whether that be … free printing, or Plan B vending machines or Amazon Package Centers. These are all these things that are on the back burner for us, but we’re going to be exploring as the year goes on.”

Rao and Dong said they also plan to explore ways to improve mental health and counseling at Yale. Both emphasized the issue in their election campaigns last spring.

With the caveat that mental health reform represents a policy priority that “will be harder to get off the ground as quickly” as other initiatives, Dong specifically noted that reforming and standardizing dean’s excuses could become a potential project the YCC hopes to pursue.

Eight students interviewed by the News expressed interest in the YCC’s new initiatives, reacting positively to the council’s ideas.

Kato Bakradze ’21 praised the projects aimed at subsidizing student services.

“Any initiative that makes on-campus necessities more accessible to the student body will be greatly appreciated,” Bakradze told the News.

Joelle Besch ’21 said she supports the expansion of the disposable menstrual product program, saying she would “love to see that extended to all colleges.”

The Yale College Council was established in 1972.

Aakshi Chaba |