dHarmony pairs Elis, groups

Students hoping to volunteer at Yale will no longer have to agonize over their myriad service options. Now, dHarmony, a Dwight Hall project launched in March, can help them find the perfect match.

Borrowing both name and concept from the popular online matchmaking service eHarmony.com, the dHarmony Web site aims to connect students with groups that match their interests.

Dwight Hall has set up a Web site, named dHarmony, that hopes to connect students with a public-service organization that suits their needs, interests and abilities.
Daniel Carvalho
Dwight Hall has set up a Web site, named dHarmony, that hopes to connect students with a public-service organization that suits their needs, interests and abilities.

Dwight Hall Public Relations Coordinator Christopher Lewine ’09 said dHarmony is especially geared towards freshmen, who are busy exploring Yale’s extracurricular organizations. Although the nonprofit center for social justice and public service is also sponsoring several recruitment events this week, Lewine said, dHarmony provides a convenient way for students to start looking for service opportunities.

“Not everyone knows what they want to do beforehand,” Lewine said, adding that dHarmony allows students to explore their service options much as Yale’s Online Course Information Web site helps Elis sift through the thousands of classes available.

The idea for dHarmony was formulated by Dwight Hall marketing fellow Mari Oye ’11 last spring, while the Web site itself was designed by two members of Dwight Hall’s student executive committee, Ben Eidelson ’08 and Eliza Schafler ’09. Oye said she tried to create a name that would catch students’ attention.

“It’s obviously corny, but that’s part of the charm,” she said. “There are really so many ways to get involved — [dHarmony is] a very useful thing to have.”

The site, www.dHarmony.dwighthall.org, invites visitors to browse groups by selecting among 13 specific areas of interest, such as gender issues or public health. Students can also decide whether or not to search for work-study job opportunities.

After the site returns a list of groups based on the selections, users can browse through individual organizations’ profiles and request more information from each. Lewine emphasized that the 71 groups listed on dHarmony create their own profiles, allowing them to “portray themselves the way they want to be portrayed.”

“We were going for an uncluttered look,” Schafler said, “sort of a visual identity formed by the groups that put in their own pictures and content.”

Student reactions to dHarmony have been largely positive, with Elis praising the site’s ease of use.

“I thought it was a lot better than just a list,” Tim Xu ’12 said. “I liked how you could immediately contact the groups you were interested in.”

But some students interviewed found the site unhelpful.

“I don’t know anyone who uses it, and I thought it was kind of useless,” Adam Thomas ’12 said.

Unlike its namesake eHarmony.com, which bases its compatibility tests on a 258-part questionnaire, dHarmony uses just 14 criteria.

Since the Web site’s inception, dHarmony has received over 3,900 unique visits, with two-thirds of visitors using the site for the first time; the average user looks at three different group profiles, Lewine said, citing statistics amassed using Google Analytics. A majority of students interviewed, however, had never heard of dHarmony.

This week features a number of Dwight Hall outreach events, including an activities bazaar today, a Social Justice Network meeting Tuesday, an Education Network meeting Wednesday and an environmental bazaar on Thursday. Next week, Dwight Hall will be sponsoring Public Health Week.

“We think there is at least one group that could be of interest to each person, and we are committed to help each person find that group,” Lewine said. “The Web site is an important step in that process, but not the only one.”

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