Yale YDSA Demands a Just COVID Plan From Yale
Our nation and world are in a time of crisis, and our university is no exception. First-generation and low-income students, as well as international students, undocumented students, and students on all levels of financial aid are in greater need of institutional support now more than ever before, but the university has failed to fully account for students who are away from campus and the ways in which the pandemic has impacted many families’ finances.
Working class students need more financial support from the university, and addressing COVID-related financial challenges is an immediate and pressing concern for a great deal of Yale students. Nationally, Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) has been fighting for greater relief for all working class people, but especially students in light of the multiple, overlapping crises facing them. We are in the midst of a national student debt crisis, yet universities — Yale included — have done little to address this. In light of the ongoing national YDSA campaign to cancel all student debt and earn greater relief for students, the Yale chapter is fighting for much-needed aid and assistance for our peers.
There is an unprecedented number of students away from Yale this school year. Far too many are left without any healthcare or insurance coverage whatsoever, yet the university has not done enough to help them. Thousands of students are left in a far more vulnerable position than they would be under more normal circumstances. Additionally, the pandemic and the many changes to our campus have put further strain on students’ mental health. The university should be doing everything it can to make mental health services more accessible.
Yale YDSA will be fighting for greater relief for our most vulnerable peers, through the demands listed below. We invite all Yale College students to join us in this struggle, as we pressure the Yale administration to do the following:
1) Account for COVID-related financial changes when calculating student financial aid packages.
As a part of the 2021-22 financial aid application process students should submit their 2020 tax returns, as well as any other documents showing significant change to their financial situation (pay stubs, eviction notices, etc), to adequately address the economic crisis created by the COVID pandemic.
2) Expand Yale Health insurance coverage to students, enrolled or on leave, living outside of the state of Connecticut
In the middle of a pandemic, the university must step up and ensure that students outside of Connecticut have affordable and comprehensive health insurance. Currently, due to Yale Health being a localized health care facility, students enrolled remotely have limited access to the services that are afforded to them under Yale Health coverage. Additionally, students on a leave of absence are forced to purchase Affiliate/Self-Pay coverage to receive the services normally provided under Yale Basic and Yale Hospitalization/Specialty Care plans. However, unlike the plans offered to enrolled students, Affiliate/Self-Pay costs $7,332 and it is not subsidized through the Yale Financial Aid Office. This disproportionately harms low-income students, who are most likely to be uninsured without Yale Health-provided coverage.Moreover, like many healthcare plans, the Hospitalization/Specialty Care plan also lacks clear and accessible information about the extent of out-of-network coverage.
Working-class students should not have to navigate this complex terrain and purchase more expensive insurance to meet their healthcare needs. In the short-term, Yale should allow remote and leave of absence students to purchase the domestic “Approved Academic Travel Rider” plan and subsidize the cost depending on the student’s financial circumstances.
In the long-term, Yale needs to provide a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) option that would allow students, regardless of enrollment status or location, to receive nationwide healthcare coverage. Additionally, like other Yale Health Coverage plans, the PPO option should be subsidized proportional to financial aid.
3. Allow students to schedule Yale Mental Health and Counseling appointments and answer basic intake questions through MyChart
Due to the added emotional burden of the pandemic, Yale’s mental health resources are important now more than ever. Students should be able to access these resources with ease. Students are currently able to schedule other appointments through MyChart; scheduling mental health appointments should be no different. However, the procedure for scheduling an intake appointment with Yale Mental Health & Counseling (MHC) is more complicated than scheduling other appointments with Yale Health, as it requires calling Yale MHC and waiting on hold for long amounts of time. Students often have to wait several weeks for an intake appointment, and subsequently must wait even longer to be matched with a provider. If Yale MHC allowed students to answer simple intake questions through MyChart, this would make mental health services much more accessible and decrease strain on currently overworked therapists.
We demand that the scheduling and intake processes for mental health appointments should be no different, and no more difficult, than scheduling a COVID test or other Yale Health service. The university must make the scheduling and intake processes as easy and accessible for its students as possible during this time of great need.