Fluorescent-colored fliers, Oreos and upperclassmen greeted hundreds of wide-eyed freshmen at the Dwight Hall open house Wednesday night.
Tables set up by about 50 student groups and 40 community organizations wound around Dwight’s main hall and adjacent rooms during the umbrella organization’s main event of the fall. Students interested in becoming active in the Yale-New Haven community signed up with different Dwight Hall organizations including Habitat for Humanity, National Student Partnerships, and several mentoring and tutoring programs.
The large number of participating groups and high attendance at the open house was not surprising — 50 percent of Yale’s student body participates in community service every year, said Jessica Bulman ’02, the co-coordinator of Dwight Hall.
Freshmen said they were eager to have the opportunity to serve the local community.
“Simply to be here is a blessing,” said Matt Sherwin ’05, who had just signed up with the Elmseed Enterprise Fund, a group that provides small loans to low-income New Haven entrepreneurs. “I have a duty to give back — to share what I have with people not as fortunate. I hope I can be a small part.”
Many freshmen went from table to table, each signing up for dozens of organizations, all with the knowledge that they would not be able to commit to all of them. But Erika Pabo ’05 didn’t seem to mind — she had already signed up for Habitat for Humanity and the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, and already volunteers at the Yale-New Haven Hospital.
“I’m really excited about New Haven,” Pabo said. “I think we should be doing everything we can to give back to our community and city.”
Community Health Educators, an organization that provides health education to New Haven public high schools, was one of many education-oriented organizations at the open house. Community Health Educators was begun by Yale student Sabrina Baronberg ’01 a couple of years ago, said Rebecca Jaffe ’02, a member of the organization. Now Community Health Educators is expanding from classes at only two high schools to classes covering topics such as contraception and communication at four neighborhood schools. Jaffe said that the organization is “very well-received” and that the high school students “can relate to us because we’re not far off in age.”
The scene on Wednesday night was starkly different from the empty corridors of Dwight Hall one week ago. Dwight Hall’s open house was originally scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12. But because of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks, the open house was postponed.
“In light of the tragedy, there is a stronger impetus to get involved,” Bulman said. “Last week was an inappropriate time, [but] people feel the desire even more stronger now to be active.”