Dwight Hall amended its Student Cabinet bylaws for the first time in over 20 years on Wednesday evening.
The changes passed by a wide voting margin at Dwight Hall’s only Cabinet meeting of the semester. These changes — which will change the term length for co-coordinators, create an internal resolutions system and deal with the status of affiliate member groups and institutional programs — take effect immediately. Dwight Hall members said the changes were overdue and now better fit the organization’s current priorities.
“Our Executive Committee has been a comparatively active and activist one,” Dwight Hall co-coordinator Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18 said. “We have sought continuously to improve Dwight Hall policy in all niches possible that weren’t necessarily considered by past executive committees.”
Included in the bylaws are rules regarding the status of various groups within Dwight Hall, such as associate and affiliate member groups. Associate and affiliate groups are those which do not have access to all of Dwight Hall’s resources, but can be eligible to be voted in for membership after a trial period. The new bylaws eliminate such classification, as Dwight Hall’s new Outreach Program aims to make all campus groups affiliated with the organization, Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator Briana Burroughs ’17 said.
The amendments also grant Dwight Hall institutional programs, such as fellowships and internships, full Cabinet membership, which includes voting rights. The amendments will take those rights away from provisional groups — those that seek Dwight Hall membership — until they are voted in, Burroughs said.
“The Urban Fellow co-coordinators were very pleased to see bylaw changes simplifying Dwight Hall membership status,” Urban Fellow co-coordinator and News staff reporter Graham Ambrose ’18 said. “The streamlined process more effectively and transparently allows new groups to join Dwight Hall while also encouraging existing groups to utilize available resources.”
A more significant change, according to Burroughs, is the new method of electing the two co-coordinators, one of whom will serve a two-year term in an effort to improve transition and continuity. D’Ambrosio and Burroughs are the first team of co-coordinators to consist of one junior and one sophomore, and D’Ambrosio said he will stay in the position next year as per the new rules.
The need for a two-year term stemmed from recurring issues with communication and transition between new co-coordinators and existing member groups, Burroughs said. Yale Undergraduate Prison Project co-coordinator Samantha Brown ’17 said she thinks this change will be beneficial because it can preserve the tie between the Executive Committee and member groups like YUPP.
“Dwight Hall is a $1 million organization with 90 member groups,” Burroughs said. “You need to make sure there’s continuity not just in the staff, but also make sure that the students are providing some institutional memory.”
The reformed bylaws also enable Dwight Hall to establish a system of Community Resolutions, proposals on official stances for Dwight Hall to take on social justice issues. Any member or institutional group will be able to put forward a resolution about social justice or service, which the Cabinet will vote on during its meeting, D’Ambrosio said.
He added that if a resolution passes the vote, Dwight Hall will focus on giving that particular issue more attention and will thereby form an “index” of core beliefs. The system implementing Community Resolutions will take effect in the fall after next year’s incumbent leadership determines details regarding the ratification process.
“Our new system for resolutions essentially allows Dwight Hall to form strains of commonality,” D’Ambrosio said. “Especially given this year’s events with social justice on campus, we felt that it was particularly necessary for Dwight Hall to be able to support certain initiatives and ideas.”
While the member group representatives present did not offer feedback at the Cabinet meeting itself, they had received emails with information about the proposed changes at least two weeks in advance of the session, Burroughs said. She added that the process was “as transparent as possible” and groups were invited to ask questions beforehand.
Member groups responded positively to the proposal in the weeks leading up to the vote, D’Ambrosio said. He added that member groups like to have their opinion voiced, so the resolution initiative was very popular.
“These resolutions can help groups, and I think groups have started to see that,” D’Ambrosio said. “I think they will see that more and more as the system gets implemented.”
Dwight Hall’s spring Day of Service will take place on April 16.