If varsity athletes return to campus from an athletic event after midnight, they will now be able to obtain a dean’s excuse for in-class obligations taking place that day, according to Yale College Council President Sal Rao ’20.
In response to student-athletes’ concerns about the inconsistency in how dean’s excuses used to be given out, the YCC announced last Monday that the policy had been standardized and tweaked. The previous policy allowed for deans to grant an excuse only when a student-athlete was physically off campus at the exact time of an in-class obligation such as an exam or a presentation.
“The new policy is an adjustment needed for varsity athletes to have the ability to turn in their best work,” Mia Grillo ’21, a forward on the women’s soccer team, told the News. “There have been times where I have struggled to meet deadlines after traveling with the team and have been reluctant to ask for a dean’s excuse knowing such a request would be improbable, resulting in turning in work I didn’t feel good about. I hope this will allow student athletes to focus in times of competition without compromising our performance on academic assignments.”
According to Athletics Director Vicky Chun, the new policy will ensure that student-athletes can succeed both academically and athletically. In an interview with the News last week, Chun said that though she was not directly involved in planning the policy change, she is “continually amazed” by the support that the Yale College Dean’s Office gives the University’s varsity athletes.
Associate Director of Athletics Brian Tompkins, who oversees student services within the Department of Athletics, told the News that coaches are “extremely cognizant” of academic commitments that student-athletes may have and try to schedule competitions accordingly. However, on “rare occasions,” teams return to campus after midnight because of travel arrangements, Tompkins added.
The idea for the policy change came from focus group meetings with varsity athletic team captains that YCC representatives hosted last semester, according to YCC Student Life Director Grace Kang ’21. YCC Senators Aiden Lee ’21 and Sofia Caro ’21 told the News that many athletes expressed concerns about dean’s excuses and a lack of standardization across residential colleges.
“For instance, if a student came back late from a game, one Dean might give them a Dean’s Excuse for their 9 am class but another might not,” Caro wrote in an email to the News. “This caused a lot of stress for athletes when going on road trips as they never knew what response they would get, making it difficult for them to plan ahead.”
Still, Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar told the News that the new policy was not implemented directly in response to a lack of standardization among deans, but will nevertheless benefit both deans and students in the future.
Lee, one of the YCC representatives who advocated for the change, said he hopes the new policy will give student-athletes a “more equal playing ground when it comes to preparing for in-class obligations.”
Lucy Burton ’21, a forward on the women’s hockey team, said that she has asked for a dean’s excuse only once, last year, when she had to travel for four days for a competition. The team returned to campus on Sunday evening, one day before her biology exam, but her dean could not grant an excuse. Under the new policy, deans remain unauthorized to give excuses to student-athletes in situations like Burton’s.
Alyssa Fagel ’20, the goalkeeper of the women’s soccer team, said she was “really excited” to hear about the new policy because it “can be difficult to devote 100 percent your mental energy to a game when you are simultaneously thinking about a test you have to take the next morning.”
“My sophomore year we returned from two games in California at seven in the morning, and it was really difficult to pay attention in classes that day,” Fagel said. “I feel like I would have better understood the material had I been granted the opportunity to rest for a few hours before being thrown immediately into a discussion.”
Yale has 34 varsity sports teams.
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