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Continuing campus debate on financial aid has led Yale’s center for service and social justice to propose reforms beyond those the University made last year.

The resolution, outlined by the 2006 Dwight Hall Cabinet Tuesday night, proposes reductions in the student financial aid contributions of at least 50 percent. Members of the Dwight Hall Student Executive Committee said the time commitment required to fulfill the student contribution requirement can prevent students from investing more of their time in Dwight Hall projects.

Debate and a vote on the resolution are scheduled for the next cabinet meeting, to be held Feb. 15, said Dwight Hall Financial Coordinator Ryan Patap ’07, who presented the proposal to the cabinet.

Dwight Hall is joining some of its member groups in pressuring the Yale administration to reform financial aid with the stated aim of equalizing undergraduate opportunities for all members of the student body. Top Yale officials have said that in light of budget constraints and last year’s reduction of the expected family contribution for students from families earning less than $60,000 a year, they are unlikely to consider significant changes to financial aid this year.

But the committee still proposed the changes after recognizing the crippling effect the student contribution has had on financial aid recipients’ ability to take advantage of Dwight Hall’s resources, co-coordinator Amy Wojnarwsky ’07 said.

“It’s significant to us because of the impact it has on our student volunteers,” Wojnarwsky said.

Citing the time taken up by certain majors, sports and other extracurricular activities, Yale Financial Aid Director Caesar Storlazzi said balancing the amount of time spent in each pursuit is part of the Yale experience.

“I am not sure that it would ever be possible to provide every student with exactly the same amount of free time so as to participate in Dwight Hall programs,” he said. “I believe that it is always important that we listen to students, and not to organizations.”

Dwight Hall co-coordinator Helena Herring ’07 said the organization will not issue a statement without a vote of the student representatives that compose its cabinet.

Although Dwight Hall is officially independent from the University, it has historically issued collective opinions on matters that concern the student population at Yale, Program Director Johnny Scafidi ’01 said.

During the 1960s, Herring said, Dwight Hall liquidated its endowment to support freedom rights. She said that action reflects the organization’s willingness to put its own financial future on the line for the Yale community.

“Dwight Hall has this clear legacy of social justice and community involvement that we can all be a part of,” Herring said.

Wojnarwsky said further action to follow the resolution has not yet been discussed. Lauren Jacobson ’08, co-coordinator of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, one of Dwight Hall’s member groups, said she is looking forward to the parent organization’s further involvement in issues surrounding financial aid.

“It’s incredibly appropriate that this issue be addressed by Dwight Hall,” Jacobson said. “Dwight Hall is an organization that fosters alliances and communication.”

Prior to the final vote on the resolution at the next committee meeting, Patap said, three speakers in favor of the resolution and three who oppose it will present their respective arguments.

Many constituent groups of Dwight Hall, shown above, met this week to discuss a resolution calling for further financial aid reform.
Michael Blank
Many constituent groups of Dwight Hall, shown above, met this week to discuss a resolution calling for further financial aid reform.

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