As Dwight Hall prepares to relocate in 2010, the University will give the group $500,000 over the next five years — with strings attached.
When University President Richard Levin approached the Dwight Hall board of directors about the possibility of moving from Old Campus to 143 Elm St., he said he would double the $250,000 grant already in the works if the organization decided to make the move. But the social justice side of Dwight Hall’s operations will not be eligible to receive the funding, which will be given out by a five-member board comprised of Dwight Hall and University representatives.
Dwight Hall serves as an umbrella organization for student groups focused on both community service and social justice. But groups focused on social justice and activism, such as the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, will be ineligible to receive the University funds because of a potential conflict of interest, said Nina Glickson, assistant to the President Levin.
Dwight Hall, will continue to use its own resources to support such organizations, Herring said.
“Dwight Hall is an independently funded institution and we will continue to maintain and increase the funding for all our member groups,” she said. “Dwight Hall values community service and social justice equally.”
The UOC has been a vocal critic of the University with regard to financial aid and unionization issues.
UOC member Charles Alvarez said the decision to restrict funding for social justice groups is both “ridiculous” and “nearsighted” and will impact student ability to effect change.
“The social justice groups are the ones that are getting things done on campus,” he said. “A lot of social justice groups … want [Levin] to do more for the community and for Yale students and particularly in the area of financial aid, so giving them money may give them more resources to take action against his inaction.”
Alvarez said he thinks Levin should have sat down with social justice groups to set restrictions and stipulations on the funding rather than restricting it completely.
But Rebecca Livengood ’07, UOC member and former Ward 1 Alderwoman, said that she is not disappointed with Levin’s decision, which came as no surprise to her. Currently, she said, the UOC receives little financial support from the University.
“I think the important thing is that as long as there is a sense on campus that social justice is important and if Dwight Hall continues to support us then those factors are more important than any one source of funding,” she said.
UOC member Phoebe Rounds ’07 said while she understands that the University giving money to activist groups may represent a conflict of interest, the University is neglecting important organizations with worldwide impact.
“Many of the groups are working on issues throughout New Haven and throughout the world,” Rounds said. “I certainly hope that Dwight Hall would continue to fund those organizations and that the Dwight Hall executive committee would consider that in making decisions for its discretionary funding.”
Levin said Dwight Hall will have a three-member majority on the board that will distribute the funds to service groups, and the other two spots will go to Nina Glickson, assistant to the president, and one other representative from the University. Glickson also serves on the Dwight Hall board of directors.
If Dwight Hall had not agreed to relocate to Elm St., they still would have received a $250,000 grant over the next five years, said Helena Herring ’07, a Dwight Hall co-coordinator. But the money was doubled when the agreed to the move.
Once Dwight Hall vacates the chapel in 2010, University officials said, it is a strong possibility that the space will become home to the chaplain’s office, which already uses the space extensively.
Currently, the Chaplain’s office is headquartered in the basement of Bingham Hall on Old Campus. Moving to the chapel, officials said, would dramatically increase the amount of space the Chaplain’s Office has at its disposal.
“The Chapel in Dwight Hall has long been used for many religious groups and services, and it could be positive to have that space near other space used for religious and spiritual programs,” said Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who also serves as Associate University Pastor.
In 2004, the Committee on Religious and Spiritual Life recommended a new center for religious life, to serve students of all faiths, and an increase in space for the Chaplain’s Office. University Secretary Linda Lorimer said administrators had been considering using 143 Elm Street for this purpose, but that she and Levin thought both the chaplain and Dwight Hall could benefit by swapping the arrangement.
“Now that Dwight Hall is going [to 143 Elm Street], that space will not be available for a new center for religious life, but there is some prospect that at least part of the old Dwight Hall might be designated for such a center,” Lorimer said. “No definitive decision has been made by the officers or by the Corporation, but that is certainly an initiative that I will want to raise.”
In addition to the $500,000 grant, Levin also offered to cover the costs associated with moving Dwight Hall’s operations. Much of the money will probably underwrite advertising for the new location and other moving-related costs, Herring said.
“My understanding is that in part the funding increased because he realized that if we moved, we would have issues with re-branding and raising student awareness, and so that’s why there was an additional $50,000 a year,” she said.
Dwight Hall will move to 143 Elm St. after renovations to that building are completed in 2010. The Elm Street building currently houses offices for the Department of Music, which will move to Stoeckel Hall after its own ongoing renovations are finished.