Some say the problem is in the name itself.
Screws, the Yale tradition where roommates set each other up with dates to a dance, continue to draw student enthusiasm — indeed, Silliman College recently revived its long-dormant Silliman Screw. But screws, like the freshman dance that took place on Saturday, continue to pose challenges for the Yale community as it grapples with promoting a healthy sexual culture.
“These set-up-your-roommate dances can be lots of fun, but they can also make for awkward or pressured situations,” said Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90.
To deal with the range of often-confused expectations students bring to screws, the Community and Consent Educators — trained peer counselors tasked with promoting a healthy sexual climate on campus — have offered alternative spaces and activities for students to practice open communication with their partners at screws this year. These services, independently organized by each college’s CCE team, commonly feature food and games, aiming to provide students with a safe, alcohol-free location to think clearly and plan out their nights.
Boyd said the CCEs hosted games and “mocktail” parties at some of the screws, organized casual afterparties and set up side rooms for dancers to take a break, drink water and eat snacks.
Corey Malone-Smolla ’16, a Timothy Dwight CCE, said the purpose of the alternative spaces is to alleviate pressure, giving students and their dates more time to get to know one another and think about how they wanted to end the night. She said the CCEs intend to serve as another resource for attendees in case they have any concerns about their partners or just need someone to talk to.
The CCEs were also involved in advising the Yale College Council on its latest version of the Screw Me Yale application, which helps students find screw dates for roommates and friends. The latest updates allow for students to edit or remove profiles made for them by friends and to better convey what they consider to be a “fun night” so their expectations can be adequately matched with a date’s.
According to Kiki Ochieng ’15, a Silliman CCE, these changes were meant to make the application and overall date-finding process more simple and casual, and to ensure students’ interests are accurately represented.
Still, two freshmen interviewed said they did not interact with the CCEs the night of Freshman Screw.
“I really don’t think the CCEs did anything. If they did, I was not aware of it,” said Sukriti Mohan ’17, a member of the Freshman College Council.
Yi Ling Lui ’17 said she only heard about the CCE-run activities the morning after Freshman Screw.
Both Freshman Counselors interviewed said this year’s Freshman Screw was a generally positive experience, for both them and their freshmen.
“My role was just to make sure they understood what screw was,” he said, adding that the FroCo team was involved with helping the students commemorate the experience with pre- and post-screw activities, such as a photobooth.
But some students interviewed offered a different perspective on the Freshman Screw experience.
While Aaron Long ’17 said the name “screw” is what sets the dance apart as a Yale tradition, Krystal Morin ’17 expressed distaste at the name of the dance, which she said evokes the negative connotations of the college hookup culture.
“It’s one of those things where everybody’s supposed to know how to [do] it, but nobody knows and everyone’s afraid to ask,” Emma Poole ’17 said, adding that the confusion surrounding students’ expectations for screw is representative of college hookup culture in general.
Other students pointed to different aspects of the tradition that made them uncomfortable.
“I don’t like hooking up in the middle of the dance floor. It feels tacky,” said Ryan Wilson ’17, who chose to skip the dance with his girlfriend.
The CCEs are organized through the Yale College Dean’s Office.