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.

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