Samantha Gardner

For the first time in recent history, Dwight Hall has endorsed a Yale College Council presidential candidate.

After a vote by around 50 Dwight Hall Student Cabinet members on Wednesday night, the organization supported Peter Huang ’18 for YCC president based on his service platform, which entails creating a more centralized resource for service opportunities at Yale through increased communication between Dwight Hall and the YCC. Dwight Hall chose to endorse a candidate this year out of a desire to provide more representation for the many Yale students involved with service, according to Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18.

“In our first year of endorsement, we really wanted candidates to acknowledge the importance of service on campus,” D’Ambrosio said. “[The presidential candidates] have certainly done that thus far, and we’re really happy and excited to endorse [Huang].”

The Dwight Hall vote came after cabinet members heard two-and-a-half minute speeches from each of the five candidates regarding their respective service agendas.

In his speech, Huang discussed a plan to strengthen the connection between Dwight Hall and the YCC by clarifying which organizations under the Dwight Hall umbrella, such as the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project and the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project, have resources that the student body can access. Huang’s platform also recommends using the YCC to connect more service-oriented Yale students with Dwight Hall member groups that target their interests.

For example, if a Yale student wanted to hold an event for the broader New Haven community, Huang told the cabinet Wednesday night he believes it would be easier for the student to attract attendees if he or she had more access to the Dwight Hall service groups that do outreach in the city.

“Student government, especially YCC president, should understand which Dwight Hall groups exist, so that if we want to consult a specific group for a government initiative, we have access,” Huang said. “I think we should apply the Day of Service format to focus community service outreach events and expose Yalies to specific organizations.”

While D’Ambrosio did not know the last time Dwight Hall endorsed a YCC presidential candidate, he said it was the first time in at least a decade. The idea developed among the Dwight Hall Student Executive Committee after last year’s YCC elections, when committee members agreed that candidates in previous years did not give service enough attention in their platforms, D’Ambrosio added. However, all of this year’s presidential candidates have included service in their platforms, which D’Ambrosio suspects would not have happened without “pressure” from Dwight Hall.

“We approached this situation coming from the perspective of the largest student organization on campus that traditionally has not been catered to in YCC elections,” D’Ambrosio said. “Dwight Hall involves thousands of students a year — more than half of Yale’s student body. So many people’s main form of extracurricular activity comes from the Hall, so a lack of representation is really not fair.”

Huang said his meeting with Dwight Hall was educational and eye-opening, helping him realize the role both Dwight Hall and community service have at Yale.

The Dwight Hall co-coordinators decided to hold a vote for endorsement among cabinet members as part of its efforts to give the cabinet — which is comprised of representatives from Dwight Hall’s many member groups — a more prominent role.

Cabinet members narrowed down the candidates to two finalists, Huang and Sarah Armstrong ’18, before deciding on Huang in what D’Ambrosio called a “contested” race. D’Ambrosio said he liked ideas from all of the candidates, and that the renewed emphasis on service is the most important result of the endorsement process.

In previous years Dwight Hall and the YCC had minimal interactions with each other, according to D’Ambrosio, but he hopes the two bodies will further engage with each other through initiatives such as the Day of Service, Freshman Olympics and other programs and events.

“As one of the largest presences on campus, Dwight Hall should certainly hold candidates accountable for their platforms regarding service,” Dwight Hall Public Health Network Membership Coordinator Kaylie Chen ’19 said. “We are looking forward to working closely with the YCC in the upcoming year.”

Voting for Yale College Council elections ends at 9 p.m. on April 15.