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UC Calls For Ivy League Mental Health Reform, Funds Project Supporting Gender Non-Conforming Students

The Undergraduate Council on Sunday called for reforms to Harvard's support for students experiencing mental illness, including its Counseling and Mental Health Services.
The Undergraduate Council on Sunday called for reforms to Harvard's support for students experiencing mental illness, including its Counseling and Mental Health Services. By Soumyaa Mazumder
By Mayesha R. Soshi and Lucas J. Walsh, Crimson Staff Writers

The Undergraduate Council endorsed an all-Ivy League statement on mental health and allocated funds toward a project supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students in purchasing gender-affirming clothing at its regular meeting Sunday.

The first piece of legislation allows the Council to sign onto an all-Ivy League mental health statement that calls for BIPOC mental health care, active “comp” oversight, increased counseling services, and leave of absence policy reform.

“Mental health is the 2nd leading cause of death among students and 75% of lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by age 24,” the statement reads.

The statement also details that no Ivy League university scored above a D+ on the Ruderman Foundation scale, which measures university effectiveness in responding to students experiencing mental illness.

“Change must be made by Ivy League administrations in order to foster a more enriching mental health support for their students,” the legislation reads.

Harvard’s mental health services has one counselor for every 500 students, according to the statement. This is higher than other higher education institutions, the statement reads, but it is “still insufficient” to address the mental health crisis students are facing now.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated the mental health crisis among college students,” the legislation reads. The legislation calls for all Ivy League universities to address mental health challenges in light of this trend.

The legislation, which was sponsored by Elm Yard Representative Anant P. Rajan ’24 and Ivy Yard Representative Tarina K. Ahuja ’24, passed with a unanimous vote.

The second piece of legislation allocates a total of $450 from the UC’s Health, Safety, and Wellness Committee for Queer Student and Allies’ social transitioning project. The project will provide students with up to $30 each to purchase gender-affirming clothing.

The legislation acknowledges the costly expenses required to legally change one’s name and attire to conform their identity and attempts to subsidize those burdens for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

“Clothing is also an important aspect of personal expression, comfort, and professionalism,” the legislation reads. “Approximately 1% of the U.S. population publicly identifies as transgender, with estimated equal or greater representation in the Harvard Undergraduate student body.”

Sponsored by representatives Brooke L. Livingston ’23, Anusha Zaman ’23, Sheila De La Cruz ’22, Soyoun Choi ’23, Esther J. Xiang ’23, and Tarina K. Ahuja ’24, the legislation was passed with a motion to adopt by unanimous consent.

—Staff writer Lucas J. Walsh can be reached at lucas.walsh@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Mayesha R. Soshi can be reached at mayesha.soshi@thecrimson.com.

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CollegeUndergraduate CouncilStudent LifeRaceCollege LifeMental Health