Although participation in Dwight Hall community service activities usually fluctuates over the year, many student leaders said they have encountered difficulties recruiting and retaining members of the Class of 2009 this fall.
Because Dwight Hall’s coordinators do not usually calculate the number of freshmen involved in member groups until the end of each year it is impossible to verify whether the level of participation has increased or decreased this fall, Dwight Hall Program Director Johnny Scafidi ’01 said. Some group leaders at Dwight said they have noticed a drop-off in enrollment and commitment, while others said they have noticed large turnouts this fall.
But Josh Goodstein ’07, who volunteers as a student tutor in New Haven public schools with PALS Tutoring and Mentoring, said the participation level in his group has been lower this year than in the past.
“I would say that we have fewer freshmen involved this year,” he said. “We had 15 to 20 last year and only 10 to 12 this year.”
Emily Biesecker ’08, member of Yale Student Environmental Coalition said she also noticed a low turnout at the group’s information table in Dwight Hall at the beginning of the year, although the freshmen that have signed up have been especially committed.
“I know that our Dwight Hall table did not have as many freshman this year,” she said. “It was not really the same level of turnout as last spring.”
Goldstein said finding serious long-term member commitment is the main obstacle that PALS has encountered this year.
“I think the bigger problem is not that people don’t get involved,” he said “It’s that they see it as minor commitment.”
Andrew Cox ’07, a member of Community Health Educators, said his group has fewer members this year due to decreased participation of both freshmen and upperclassmen
“Last year was huge, it really blew everyone away,” Cox said. “I don’t know whether that was the result of freshman involvement or upperclassmen deciding to become involved.”
Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator Benjamin Staub ’06 said he is unaware of any particular problems related to freshman participation in Dwight Hall programs this year.
“We have no indication of any difference in the level of involvement of this freshman class,” he said.
Even if fewer freshmen have expressed interest in Dwight Hall this year, the class of 2009’s participation could still increase substantially in the next few years, Scafidi said. Freshman rarely participate in the same numbers as current upperclassmen.
“Historically it seems like the peak level of involvement is between sophomore and junior year,” he said.