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Fostering Wellness for a Connected Yale

I think we have something in common. 

At its core, the human spirit thrives on connection, on the shared experiences that bind us together, regardless of our backgrounds or beliefs. It is this inherent desire for unity and mutual support that brings us here today.

At the heart of Yale University lies an opportunity for profound transformation that is not confined to the intellectual rigor of classrooms or the competitive spirit of athletic fields but extends to the very fabric of our community’s well-being. Celene Bennett and I are running for President and Vice President of the Yale College Council (YCC) with a vision for a more connected, healthy, and supportive environment—a vision that reimagines the role of the YCC in fostering a campus where every student thrives.

The essence of this vision, “Connecting Yale,” is rooted in the understanding that our strength lies in our unity, our health, and our mutual support of one another. Connecting Yale is about recognizing that the challenges we face—whether related to health, safety, or mental well-being—are not just individual struggles but collective opportunities to come together and uplift one another.

One cornerstone of this vision is improving academic policies to reflect a deep understanding of the challenges students face. As a YCC Senator, I learned how to properly engage with the Yale Administration to create tangible change by leading the YCC’s effort in advocating for Dean’s Extensions policies to explicitly include mental health conditions. This policy was not just an administrative change; it was a statement: Yale must value the mental well-being of its students more than their academic achievements​​.

Moreover, in the past, Yale has instituted financial barriers to accessing healthcare services, especially during hours when the veil of night makes every challenge seem more daunting. The Healthcare Transportation Reimbursement Program is one way I’ve addressed this. By ensuring that every student can afford transportation to Yale Health and nearby hospitals without worry, this program is not just facilitating medical access; it is cultivating a community that cares, that extends a helping hand when it’s needed the most​​.

The Wellness Cabinet program, piloted by Celene and me, is a testament to our proactive approach toward student health. By providing immediate access to basic health supplies, these cabinets are more than mere repositories of medical goods; they are symbols of a community’s commitment to the well-being of its members, ensuring that no student is left unaided in times of minor health issues.

Another critical initiative of mine is the creation of a MENA Space Student Advisory Committee. Working alongside members of the Cultural and Religious Policy team, I have and will continue to push for Middle Eastern and North African student voices to be incorporated into the planning and implementation of the new MENA space. The Yale administration seems open to the idea. Still, further collaboration between the future President and Vice President of the YCC and MENA organizations on campus is essential to keep our momentum going and ensure a thriving space that adapts to the communities being served.

“Connecting Yale” is thus a call to action and a plea for empathy. It is a vision that sees beyond the immediacy of academic deadlines. It is a vision that aspires to create a Yale where every student feels supported, valued, and connected.

Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the initiatives spearheaded under this vision aim to create a cascade of positive changes throughout Yale. In every corner of our campus, let these ripples merge into a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of resistance, ushering in an era where safety and health are not just assured but seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. The tangible improvements in academic regulations, access to transportation, health resources, and cultural and religious support present the first steps toward cultivating an environment where every student knows they belong, where every challenge is met with a community ready to support, and where every victory is celebrated together.

As we look towards the summer and the remainder of our time at Yale, let us embrace this vision with hope, determination, and a shared commitment to each other. Demand the YCC be a vessel of change, guiding Yale towards a future where every student not only succeeds but flourishes. Together, we can make Yale a place where every student feels an unbreakable bond with their community—a community that stands united in the face of challenges and relentless in its pursuit of well-being for all.

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