Letter: On supporting student activism

Re: (“Step it up, Dwight Hall,” Nov. 13): First and foremost, we are thrilled to see service and activism as lively topics in campus discourse. We have long held the view that immersion into New Haven augments a Yale education and that doing public service and social justice work is an outstanding way to accomplish this goal.

We do, however, want to clear up some confusion that might have been caused by James Cersonsky’s proposals.

Dwight Hall already supports short-term, ad-hoc campaigns. Over the past five years, we have consistently supported large-scale collaborative campaigns, such as the Elm City Resident Card and the unionization at Yale-New Haven Hospital, as well as the initiatives of our 85 student-run member groups. This semester, we created a mechanism to provide additional financial and institutional support to campaigns like Shelter Now. We have also expanded financial support for campaigns, despite the economic downturn, because we are committed to providing opportunities for students to serve and lead.

In this endeavor and others, Dwight Hall sees itself as a “servant of service.” Our role as an institution is to support campaigns that are driven by students’ passion and community need. Given the need and the Dwight Hall Executive Committee’s dedication to meeting it, we are confident that short-term campaigns, and our support of them, will continue to grow.

Cersonsky also calls on us to provide flexible service opportunities to allow students to become involved without making a large time commitment. We agree and believe putting service on people’s agenda is a fantastic idea. Dwight Hall continues to expand the number of and increase participation in the days of service we offer, such as the Freshmen Day of Service and Week of Service co-sponsored by Dwight Hall and the Yale College Council. This spring we will expand opportunities for one-time service involvement by replicating the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project’s “Moments of Service” model campus-wide. Whether for a morning, a month or six hours per week, we aspire to have all students participate in service during their time at Yale,

We thank Cersonsky for his call to action and hope that you will join us in our effort to serve the community.

Anna Jo Bodurtha Smith and Bradford Williams

Nov. 14

The writers are seniors in Morse College and Pierson College, respectively. They are the co-coordinators of Dwight Hall

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