Good, clean fun on Old Campus

Checkers was among the among the activities at the new program.
Checkers was among the among the activities at the new program. Photo by Sam Greenberg.

Friday and Saturday nights on Old Campus just got a little more wholesome.

With the launch of a new event called Global Grounds, the Chaplain’s Office is working to create an opportunity every Friday and Saturday night for students to hang out and meet new people in a social environment that is not focused on drinking. The Office tried out the new program this past Friday and Saturday, setting up the Dwight Hall common room with tables, art supplies, board games, coffee and snacks. While organizers said the weekend’s test run was successful, they added that they hope to see students take ownership of the program in the future.

Students can convene in the Dwight Hall common room for snacks, board games, conversation and other forms of non-alcohol-fueled fun.
Students can convene in the Dwight Hall common room for snacks, board games, conversation and other forms of non-alcohol-fueled fun.

“The environment we want to create is one that is counter to the rest of people’s week. This is an agenda-less place where people can come and hang out,” said Nat Deluca, program coordinator for the Chaplain’s Office. “If we can recreate people’s idea of fun from when they were 12, that would be great.”

University Chaplain Sharon Kugler, who came up with the idea for the program, explained that the name Global Grounds is a play on another program the Chaplain’s Office’s already offers: Common Grounds, where people gather on occasion to drink coffee and discuss issues of faith. She said she hopes food from a different part of the world will be featured at each week’s Global Grounds gathering.

“We are very interested in helping students retain a healthy balance in their lives,” Kugler added.

Deluca said he hopes Global Grounds helps in “establishing [non-alcoholic activities] as a norm of behavior — that you don’t have to go get drunk whenever.”

In 2006, Yale’s Committee on Alcohol Policy released a report advising, among other things, that a late-night social space be created for freshmen on Old Campus. The report also recommended late-night athletics and dance classes, a coffee shop with music and a campus movie theater. This year, Yale officials have been discussing how to deal with an increase in overconsumption of alcohol, though no policy changes have been implemented.

While Kugler did not say that Global Grounds is a direct response to the 2006 report, the program does seek to create alternatives to drinking and partying for all undergraduates. In particular, she said, the space may be valuable to Orthodox Jewish students — who do not use electricity on the Sabbath — as there will be no music played on Friday nights.

The program also creates a common space for students on Old Campus, which does not exist otherwise, she said.

Eventually, Kugler said, she hopes Global Grounds becomes a place where students can perform and where organizations can “adopt a night” to have special programming and invite their members. In addition, Deluca said the Chaplain’s Office hopes that the entire program will one day be run by undergraduates.

Kugler said she started a similar program during her time as the chaplain of Johns Hopkins University and decided to implement it at Yale after speaking with administrators in the Yale College Dean’s Office.

“It was an important thing that students looked forward to,” Kugler said of the program at Johns Hopkins.

Five students interviewed who attended this past weekend said they think the program provides a good addition to Yale’s social scene.

“I thought it was a great idea and wanted to support the program,” Eliza Scheffler ’12 said at Friday’s event, as she helped herself to a pastry. She said Global Grounds is unique in that it lets students meet new people in a completely sober atmosphere.

Eric Tipler DIV ’12, who helps to organize the program, estimated that between 15 and 20 students were in attendance at any given point this past weekend, with many people coming and going throughout the night.

There will be no Global Grounds this coming weekend because of the Christian Holy Week, but the Chaplain’s Office will hold the grand opening April 9 and 10 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.


  • Omission or Commission?

    What an excellent idea.

    It never occurred to me until thid momrnt (despite a lifetime in and around and back and forth to a from Yale), that YALE DOES NOT HAVE A STUDENT UNION.

    What an interesting omission, and omisssion (or commission)it must be since Yale is not oblivious to what’s going on at other schools.

    After the Kent State killings in 1970 that university built a new Student Union (replacing the 1950’s snack-bar version) the size of a modern airport terminal!


  • Yale 08

    Isn’t Sharon Kugler a Catholic?

    The Catholic Sun

    Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
    There’s always laughter and good red wine.
    At least I’ve always found it so.
    Benedicamus Domino!

    ~Hillaire Belloc

  • Yale mom

    BRAVO and thank you!! Hopefully the masters of the residence colleges are talking this up to students. What about initiating a competition to see which college can muster the highest attendance percentage?

  • yalemom

    This is the BEST idea I have seen yet!

    Thank you Chaplain’s Office, you might actually be saving lives and building wholesome relationships.

  • ES10

    Really excited for this. They have cookies and baklava! and an open-mic! and scrabble!

  • TC 00

    Checkers, art supplies and snacks? REALLY? I am SHOCKED that students aren’t falling all over themselves to revert to their 12-year old selves instead of creating (and erasing!) memories at crazy parties. Certainly when I think of my Bright College Years, I look back on all the times I played Chutes & Ladders while stone cold sober.

  • Goldie ’08

    This won’t be taken seriously, and it is made in jest, but I believe the point is somewhat valid:

    Smoking pot is a fun activity for friends to partake in as an alternative to alcohol!

  • Auntie PK

    There has never been a need for a “student union”: One’s college (PK: a.k.a. a student’s more or less permanent dormitory or even alma mater) provides endless variations on the theme, limited only by the energy and imagination of its residents. Any student (or graduate) of Yale College knows that the common room, the dining hall, the buttery (PK: a “buttery” is where Yalies go for camaraderie, food, and fun), etc., fill (and more) the purpose of a “student union.”

    This is not to criticize Old Campus (PK: Old Campus is where a Yalie lives during freshman year before progressing to his or her “college”), efforts by the Chaplain’s Office to provide some centralized entertainment are… fine (although they will be made superfluous should Levin get his way and dismantle the Old Campus system, but that initiative is outside the scope of this comment).

    The Chaplain’s effort does, perhaps, reflect poorly on freshman, as they seem to need some external motivator to “withstand” the evils and allures of drugs, drinks, & sex (well, drugs & drinks, anyway) that clearly pervade the campus mind (well, the Chaplain’s, anyway).

    That said: I myself *love* cookies and Scrabble(tm)!

    [Note to future English teachers: the phrase “1950’s snack bar” should be correctly written “1950s snack bar” or even “1950s’ snack bar,” but let us not stand on peder…, er, pedantry or points…]

  • Yale 09

    Great idea. Wish something like this had come sooner

  • Y12

    Great! If people go to that, I WILL get into a secret society.

    Certainly not the chess champion.

  • Skeine

    This is a great initiative by the Chaplain’s Office. Even if the Yale administration turns a blind eye to alcohol use (and abuse) by freshmen, it doesn’t mean that every freshman chooses to engage in this kind of illegal behavior. Moreover, because drinking culture is so pervasive, it can be difficult to find people who want to have fun without alcohol. It’s absurd that at Yale, a school that celebrates the diversity of opinions, any student should feel pressure to drink in order ‘truly’ experience his or her ‘Bright College Years.’

  • From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Hobgobblin and PK

    Taken from

    English Language Poll

    Poll: Do you use an apostrophe in plural dates?


    Votes: 1279
    Comments: 12
    Added: September 2003

    Caleb Talati – 29th May 2007 19:57
    In the “Penguin Guide to Punctuation”(1997), I read that the apostrophe is not needed for forming the dates of plurals in British English. However, according to the author, it is needed in American English. I find it easy writing both “1970s” and “1970’s”.

  • Walking City: Yale’s Student Union

    New Haven is a good, old-fashioned “walking city” and Chapel Street is Yale’s Student Union.


  • Auntie PK

    I unsurprised that you are unaware what Yale recommends:

    Big boys play with the MLA (you can look that up, can’t you?) and the Chicago Manual of Style…

  • Emma Woodhouse

    At least Yale is acknowledging that the drinking in Old Campus is out of control. But will chess and cookies without music draw the students who are apt to drink? Haven’t experienced it, but the chaplain’s effort sounds a bit too tame. In spite of the college system, a student union with bowling, pool, snack bars etc. would be a plus at Yale.

  • Yale 11

    Anyone who mentions a Student Union is clueless about the social greatness of Yale.

    The residential colleges are tremendously safe and students LOVE the communities in those walls.

    Yale boasts the best undergraduate experience and some of the happiest students because of this system.

    A student union is a relic from another era of education. We don’t have any need for something like that.

  • Fortress Mentality

    The residential colleges, whatever their social benefit (or “social greatness”) to the insiders, are an architectural snub to the outsiders (townies), facing INWARD as they do with their gothic buttoxes extended outward, protected by digitized portcullises, fortresses of privilege, excluding the civilians on the sidewalks
    from even the illusion of participation in the Yale experience.

    The elitist smugness of this architecture seems to escape the University, which throws a few “social outreach” scraps to the townspeople now and then ( a soup kitchen here; a concert there ) and has even decided to replicate the model in its two new Gothic Palace colleges, contiguous with the section of New Haven off Prospect Street which oozes poverty.

    Crime creeps ever closer to the University year by year, and dumfounded, the University is clueless as to why the impoverished who live on its borders might possibly be angry, envious and driven.

    My, my, my.

    This fortress mentality speaks loud and clear in all that Yale represents in New Haven.

    Paul Keane
    The Anti-Yale

  • Yale 08


    New Haven residents who choose to commit crimes are CRIMINALS, not victims.

    I came to Yale for Yale, not New Haven.

    Without Yale, New Haven = Bridgeport.

  • ??


    Get out of YOUR ’60s mentality. Maybe New Haven was that way when YOU lived here, but Yale and the “townies” get along much better now.

    “Crime creeps ever closer.” Um, despite recent neighborhood crimes, overall stats are WAY better now than the ’70s and ’80s.

    It’s weirdos like you who keep carping on “fortress mentality” and other leftover hippie crap that perpetuate the negative stereotypes of town/gown relations and New Haven itself.

    Move on, dude.

  • @ PK

    How exactly would instituting a student union help get over this fortress mentality? I agree that that’s crap. Yes, there is physical separation between the college courtyards and the town, but there HAS to be…is there a way to have a residential college system, or to have courtyards at all, without closing something off? All you’re really saying is that it’s very symbolic that townies aren’t allowed in Yale courtyards…and that’s not symbolic at all, it’s just a basic fact of safety and business.

    I’m a junior at Yale and I drink only rarely. I think this space in Dwight Hall is a great idea, and I definitely would have used it as a freshman. I suspect that their clientele will be mostly freshmen, and not upperclassmen, but they’re the ones who really need it anyway. If it can get itself off the ground this semester, I think it’s a really great idea. good clean fun is WAY WAY undervalued at Yale.

  • Pierson ’10

    Let’s make macaroni paintings about family values! Yay!