Re-evaluating group registrations

Last month, the Yale College Dean’s Office required all registered student organizations to send at least three members to attend one of the University’s first-ever leadership training sessions. The 75-minute long presentations, held three times in the same number of days, primarily outlined the hazing and sexual misconduct rules written in the Undergraduate Regulations.

The sessions were mandatory for registered clubs because administrators wanted to ensure that all official undergraduate organizations clearly received this information, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry told the News earlier this month.

“We wanted to make sure students had the proper information about hazing and misconduct,” he said, “and we wanted to make sure students had a good understanding of the policies.”

When she first notified students of the training sessions last December, Yale College Dean Mary Miller wrote in an email that registered groups and varsity teams needed to send representatives in order to remain “in good standing” with the Dean’s Office. Clubs who did not participate would lose their status as official registered organizations if they did not attend the training, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90 told the News before the training sessions occurred.

Still, John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources, said that the objective of the training sessions was to communicate information about these matters to students, rather than be “punitive.”

Meeske said the administration plans to provide some framework through which students can reregister, but a month after the event the administration remains uncertain about how many clubs were actually represented — highlighting a larger confusion about the purpose of Yale’s club registration system as a whole.

RELEVANT TO ALL?

The training sessions held last month were intended to empower leaders on campus and teach valuable lessons about leadership, Boyd said.

But seven students interviewed — including leaders of Adopted Yalies, a group working to connect Yalies who are adopted or are considering someday adopting, and the Bulldog Cube Club, a group dedicated to solving Rubik’s Cubes and other puzzles — said they did not find the information from the trainings applicable to their individual groups because they do not initiate their members.

The Yale’s Bartending and Mixology Federation — which aims to teach students how to make classic cocktails — does not have any initiation rituals and only allows students over the age of 21 to join, president Allison Hadley ’12 said. As a result, she said, she felt the workshop didn’t apply to the group “too much.”

Michael Knowles ’12, who attended the event as co-president of the Yale College Republicans, said he did not learn anything during the training sessions that he had not previously heard but felt the sessions were a natural response for the University given the increased focus on sexual climate at Yale.

“In 99 percent of occasions it’s completely unnecessary, but given the controversies that have gone on campus, it was fine,” Knowles said.

Alpha Epsilon Pi is the only fraternity listed as a registered organization on the Dean’s Office website, though all unregistered groups were “strongly” encouraged to attend, Miller wrote in her email to students. Alpha Epsilon Pi president Avi Arfin ’14, though, said that while he appreciated the attempt to deal with hazing, he did not find the training relevant because his fraternity does not haze.

Still, Meeske said that he thinks the leadership trainings accomplished their goal by creating a dialogue on campus about the definition of leadership as avoiding sexual misconduct.

“Even if people will criticize the meetings, it succeeded nonetheless just by the fact that people were talking about it,” he said.

IT PAYS TO REGISTER

All groups who sent at least three representatives will continue to enjoy privileges conferred by registration, including access to classroom space, use of Yale website hosting, participation in the extracurricular bazaars and funding from the Undergraduate Organizations Funding Committee.

Knowles said the access to funding is the reason he believes most groups register with the Dean’s Office.

“There has never been too much of a push to actually register unless you’re getting the UOFC to fund your organization,” he said.

The UOFC donates up to $600 to each organization per semester, drawn from a budget primarily dependent on the student activities fee. UOFC representatives review budget applications submitted by the groups — often requesting to cover costs such as food, advertising and transportation — but Granzberg said UOFC typically only denies requests to fund alcohol purchases or any proposals that seem extravagant.

Regardless of the size or purpose of the group, all are eligible for funding if they are registered, Granzberg said. The Bulldog Cube Club used $1,100 of combined UOFC and Sudler Fund money to purchase 2,700 Rubik’s Cubes for an art project called Yale^3, said club president Anthony Hsu ’12.

Registration for a group expires every October and each group must reregister annually in order to maintain its status as an official undergraduate organization and continue receiving the associated benefits, Meeske said. While many register in order to have this University support, some groups meet these logistical needs without reregistering.

The Liberal Party of the Yale Political Union became unregistered when members of the executive board forgot to reregister, said Isaac Park ’13, secretary of the party. Park is a copy staffer for the News.

Still, the group has had no trouble reserving rooms, as it has been directly communicating with the Calhoun Master’s Office, which doesn’t check registration status, Park said. He added that the group still has enough UOFC funds left over from its previous requests that it does not need additional funding.

Liz Asai ’13, co-coordinator of Demos, a club that sends students to teach simple science experiments in public elementary schools in New Haven, said she also did not realize her group was not registered with the Dean’s Office. She added that it participated in the extracurricular bazaar, which the Dean’s Office limited to only registered organizations beginning this fall, and said that Demos has continued to be successful by receiving funding from Dwight Hall, rather than UOFC.

MOVING FORWARD

Although 993 students attended the sessions, the administration has not yet identified which registered groups were represented and which ones failed to send the three required members. Hannah Peck DIV ’11, a student affairs fellow who helped coordinate the training sessions, said because groups entered their organizations manually through a Google form, the administration has to manually examine every record.

The Dean’s Office hired a student to provide extra help while organizing the data, she added.

Meeske said the training sessions will be held again next year, but the administration hopes to make the data processing more efficient.

“It’s difficult to do anything in the first year, and you figure out what worked well and what didn’t,” he said.

In the past week, at least two groups registered for the first time, but neither had been contacted about a makeup training session.

Scott Stern ’15, who leads the Student Origami Society at Yale, registered his organization last Wednesday with hopes of gaining UOFC funding to pay for supplies, such as paper and food. Although they registered after the leadership training sessions took place, he said the administration has not contacted him about any issues relating to sexual harassment training. Stern is a staff designer and columnist for the News.

This past Thursday, Jack Doyle ’14 founded the Yale Undergraduate Thoreau Club, and said the group hopes to bring in speakers who are experts on Henry David Thoreau. Doyle said he wanted to register the group officially both for reasons of funding and to ensure the group appears credible.

“Once it becomes a registered organization, it will be easier to get new members involved because it’s more legitimate,” Doyle said, adding he hasn’t been contacted by anyone in the administration about a makeup for the event either.

While Peck said 391 groups were registered as of this week, Yale’s registered organization website listed 441 groups as of Tuesday night.

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