Dwight Hall revamps college service program

Dwight Hall leaders are hoping to capitalize on residential college spirit to encourage more students to participate in community service.

Two years ago, Dwight Hall placed representatives in residential colleges to coordinate service events, but the representatives struggled to hold events consistently, current and former Dwight Hall leaders said. Alyssa Bilinski ’13, institutional service coordinator for Dwight Hall, is now leading a renewed effort to offer a similar program, called College Service Outreach Fellows, in which eight fellows will hold service events for three colleges every weekend so that each college will have one event per month. Next year, once the program is more established, the fellows plan to create a competition to name the college with the most service.

“The colleges have a strong sense of community built around them,” said William Redden ’14, financial coordinator at Dwight Hall. “You can see that through IM competition and the loyalty found in members of each college. We’re hoping to tap into that to get people involved in service.”

The eight fellows were appointed March 20 and met this Monday for training, and they intend to meet monthly to organize events, Bilinski said.

Leaders of the new group said they hope to build off of the experiences of the previous College Service Representative Program, which Alexandra Brodsky ’12 began two years ago. Brodsky said the idea for putting representatives in each college originated from the fact that many students cannot commit to community service every week, but may want to help with one-time service opportunities.

“In the same way we had [student activities committee] chairs, we also wanted community service chairs,” she said.

The College Service Representative Program included nine colleges at its largest, Brodsky said. Larger events drew between 20 and 30 students, while some offered colleges had more intimate service opportunities. For example, an Ezra Stiles College representative recruited four students every month to work with children at Yale New Haven Hospital. But Bilinski said the program “fizzled out” by the end of last spring.

While the previous program allowed college representatives to choose and coordinate their service opportunities, Bilinski said in the new program the fellows only need to choose the dates of the service, and she will coordinate the site where colleges work on each weekend. She added that this new model is intended to increase the amount of support Dwight Hall offers to the fellows by helping them with plans.

“We want to create more of a community between the College Service Outreach Fellows, where they can share ideas, say what works and what doesn’t,” Bilinski said.

Redden said the fellows will be coordinating with organizations with which Dwight Hall has traditionally worked, such as Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven, to find service opportunities for the colleges each week. Activities could range from building houses to designing science lessons, Bilinski added.

Julia Calagiovanni ’15, the service fellow for Silliman, said she plans to raise awareness of the program by attending college council meetings and by emailing students panlists.

Dwight Hall will also host the Yale Day of Service on April 7.

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