SUN organizes ‘Speak Out’ event on Cross Campus
Student Unite Now held a Cross Campus rally during Bulldog Days demanding mental health and financial aid reforms for students.
Michael Ndubisi, Contributing Photographer
Roughly 70 students and members of Students Unite Now gathered on Cross Campus on Monday night to demand that the University administration improve mental health services for students and eliminate the remainder of the student effort.
This week’s action was the latest from Students Unite Now, or SUN, an activist group that advocates for student mental health and financial aid proliferation. Earlier this academic year, the group secured a victory after Yale eliminated the billed portion of the student effort, which at that point was colloquially known as the student income contribution. However, the University still expects students who receive aid to be responsible for personal expenses, at a total of $3,700 per academic year. SUN continues to advocate for the elimination of this $3,700 expense, which it calls the unbilled portion of the student income contribution. Yale officially calls this portion the unbilled portion of the student share.
Beyond financial aid, SUN is pushing for a reduction in wait times at Yale Mental Health and Counseling, as well as the hiring of more therapists of color and from historically marginalized groups.
“Yale must listen to over 660 students calling for a more accessible campus that provides mental healthcare within two weeks, hires representative therapists, and covers remaining SIC costs,” student organizer Naomi D’Arbell Bobadilla ’22 said.
The event began at 9 p.m. with Meher Sethi ’25, who emceed the event, sharing SUN’s accomplishments in the last year, including the elimination of the billed portion of the student income contribution and the average increase of $700 in student aid. Sethi then led the crowd in a series of chants calling for “an accessible campus.”
During the event, images of over 600 students in support of SUN’s demands were projected onto Sterling Memorial Library. The images were taken during the year when SUN organizers canvassed residential college suites to rally support for their causes.
The event feautred student speakers who shared their experiences with YMHC. The first speaker, Sarah Grube ’22, shared the highs and lows of her time at Yale and how she was hospitalized just over a week before the event.
“I deserve to be at the school, I deserve to be supported at the school and I deserve to have the opportunity to succeed at this school,” Grube said to a roar of screams and applause.
Grube said that while she will be receiving her degree in “a few weeks,” she does not want anyone else to fear or struggle with the same things she did during her time at Yale.
Other speakers spoke to the crowd about more specific issues with therapists they have been assigned as people of color or as members of the LGBTQ+ community. For Akio Ho ’23, one of the speakers, the issue was both.
“When I got a therapist, he was neither trans nor a person of color; I didn’t think he would understand important parts of my life and felt uncomfortable and found it difficult to relate to him,” Ho told the News.
SUN’s action came during Bulldog Days, with many visiting prefrosh attending the event. Speakers hoped to show potential Yalies the reality of the Yale experience rather than the “shiny things Yale admissions” wants to show them.
“Yale’s Bulldog Days programming highlights many opportunities on campus, and SUN is fighting so marginalized students have the support we were promised in order to participate,” Bobadilla told the News.
A variety of students attended and spoke at the event, including student athletes, campus leaders, students with varying mental health needs as well as students with and without private health insurance.
“I came because I was a patient with YMHC and am a frequent user of YC3,” Rebecca Lopez ’23 told the News. Lopez, who is an incoming Cultural Connections Counselor, also shared that she hopes to be able to direct the prefrosh under her care to adequate mental health resources when she begins the pre-orientation program this summer.
While many of the students in attendance, like Lopez, made plans to attend prior to the event, others like Annabella Hoagland ’25 and Noah Vinogradov ’25 came after passing by and seeing the demonstration on Cross Campus.
“I loved the event,” Vinogradov told the News.
He added that it was encouraging to see how many people on campus care about the issues of mental health, and how “coming together in community, you can get anything done.”
SUN was founded in 2012.