April 1, 2022
Changes to withdrawal/reinstatement policies at Yale effective “immediately” posted 4/1/22:
We here at Elis for Rachael are so excited for students that the needle is (finally) moving! These changes are overdue and incomplete, but substantive. They include two changes that were among our ten petition demands. We will be watching closely to see that they are carried out in the spirit in which they are presented.
1. Reinstatement interviews
“Beginning immediately, students seeking reinstatement will not be required to interview with the chair of the Committee on Reinstatement as a component of the reinstatement process. An exception will remain for students who must apply for reinstatement after a suspension for disciplinary reasons.”
Our response: This is a no-brainer, frankly. Our first petition demand is to “Eliminate costly, non-medical roadblocks to reinstatement to Yale College following a medical withdrawal.” This includes both flying back to campus for non-medical interviews with administrators, as well as eliminating the coursework requirements as discussed next.
2. Coursework requirements
“Beginning in 2022-2023, most students seeking reinstatement will not be required to complete coursework as a condition of reinstatement. An exception will be made for withdrawn students who remain away from full-time academic work for more than four terms. In addition, the Committee on Reinstatement may require coursework as a condition of reinstatement in some circumstances.”
Our response: Since its inception a year ago, Elis for Rachael has fundraised around $10,000, around $6000 of which has gone to low-income students specifically to pay tuition for the required coursework to apply for reinstatement.We hope this revised policy will finally relieve most students of the immense financial stress that has been associated with mental illness at Yale for decades.
That said, we do intend to seek further information about the circumstances in which coursework will still be required. We don't see any need for a student taking a mental health leave to take additional coursework, as mental illness does not imply intellectual incapacity; students demonstrated high academic potential when they were initially accepted.
3. A second reinstatement
“While the policy allowing students in most circumstances to request a second reinstatement has not changed, the Yale College Programs of Study language has been clarified:
Students who have been reinstated from a first withdrawal for academic, medical, or personal reasons are allowed a second reinstatement after a subsequent withdrawal for medical or personal reasons. Students who have been reinstated from a first withdrawal for medical or personal reasons are allowed a second reinstatement after a subsequent withdrawal for academic, medical, or personal reasons. However, students who have been reinstated from a first withdrawal for academic reasons become ineligible for reinstatement after a second withdrawal for academic reasons.”
Our response: We also are glad to see a decidedly more encouraging tone taken regarding second reinstatements. The previous policy (as of May 2021) stated: “A student is eligible to be reinstated only once; a second reinstatement may only be considered under unusual circumstances, ordinarily of a medical nature.” We see this as a substantial policy change rather than a mere “clarification” as implied. But regardless of Yale’s inability to admit to a previous wrong, we’ll take it.
4. Additional terms and financial aid
“Some students require, upon reinstatement in Yale College, enrollment beyond eight terms to complete their bachelor’s degree. Such students will be granted at the time of their reinstatement any such required additional terms of enrollment. Moreover, if such students receive financial aid, they should apply for aid for those additional terms of enrollment as they did for their previous terms.”
Our response: This section needs some further clarification, which we will be reaching out for. In particular, we would like to see if the hard nine-semester limit still applies.
While these changes are meaningful and important, our work is not done yet. Yale still needs to implement the following changes to modernize its mental health infrastructure:
End the practice of rejecting reinstatement applications without actionable explanation.
Stop terminating health insurance for students leaving Yale to address health conditions.
Reduce the minimum duration for medical withdrawals.
Allow students reasonable access to campus while on medical withdrawal.
Designate a staff member as an advocate for students considering, on, or returning from a medical withdrawal.
Reform the protocol for involuntary medical withdrawals.
Restructure the refund schedule for tuition, room, and board fees.
Offer an affordable PPO option of university health insurance to both enrolled and medically withdrawn students so they can see non-Yale providers in the New Haven area and beyond.
Implement annual mental health first-aid training for students, faculty, staff, and administrators.
We have every intention of continuing full steam ahead with our advocacy efforts until every one of these proposals becomes a reality.
Lastly, we want to say THANK YOU to all of you for your support of Elis for Rachael. So many incredible individuals have contributed to this effort in a number of different ways. Every dollar donated, every petition signature, every story shared, every hour put into writing and research, and every kind word has made a world of difference. We’re so grateful for all of you’ve done to get us this far, and we hope you’ll stay with us as the fight continues.