As Dwight Hall continues conversations about how to handle institutional growth, Yale’s largest community service organization saw the highest number of groups apply for provisional affiliation this fall.
At the end of last semester, Dwight Hall’s executive board accepted 12 of 20 applicant groups for provisional membership. In response to the increased interest from student organizations, Dwight Hall has begun discussing how to address its growing numbers, said New Membership Coordinator Emma Dunne ’18.
“People in New Haven and around Yale’s campus are increasingly caring more and more about the New Haven community,” said Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator Matthew Coffin ’19. “I think that’s a change that has been going on over the past 30 years.”
Dwight Hall saw a particular increase in interest from groups relating to refugees and the Middle East: the Yale Muslim Students Association, Students of Salaam and No Lost Generation all became provisional groups last fall.
Affiliation offers groups primary access to Dwight Hall resources, including cars and printers. Each new group is also assigned a Dwight Hall network coordinator who works to ensure the sustainability of the group, assesses whether the group is meeting its stated purpose and seeks to set up a smooth transition of leadership. Coffin added that because provisional groups often do not receive funding, given the limited finances of Dwight Hall, the increase in number of accepted organizations seemingly has the potential to outpace the group’s resources.
Still, currently affiliated groups have found Dwight Hall’s aid helpful. Aaminah Bhat ’18, the co-president of Students of Salaam, a mentorship and education program for refugees, said that Dwight Hall’s resources allowed the organization to work in schools in New Haven and connect with 210 refugees.
According to Dunne, Yale’s Undergraduate Organizations Committee referred many service-focused groups seeking Yale College affiliation to Dwight Hall in the fall. She noted that the spike in applications demonstrates that “Dwight Hall is becoming a bigger name on campus.”
Any applicant first meets with Dwight Hall new membership coordinators to understand what it means to be a Dwight Hall constituent group during the semesterlong application process. At the end of that period, the executive committee votes on whether to accept or reject the group’s application for provisional status. After two semesters of trial status, the Dwight Hall cabinet — a constituent governing body composed of representatives from every group and the executive committee — votes on whether to elevate the group to full membership. According to Dwight Hall administrators, most provisional groups are promoted after a year.
The executive committee decides on provisional groups based on the stability of the group, the logistics of their service and leadership transitions, Dunne said.
Dunne added that Dwight Hall has recently sought to streamline its application process by creating a biannual application cycle. In the previous years, the new membership coordinator has interacted with prospective groups through email, though Dunne has aimed to make the prospective groups “feel a part of something during the application process.”
Most groups denied affiliation were simply rejected because campus groups already satisfied the need, Coffin said, adding that Dwight Hall suggested such organizations to shift their focus to more “responsible service” or “suggest working under a group.”
Still, denied organizations are able to reapply for provisional status the following semester.
Dwight Hall Co-Coordinator Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18 added that Dwight Hall still offers unaffiliated groups “informal resources such as access to staff for advice, occasional use of things such as cars, and Dwight Hall space.”
In an effort to expand service opportunities on campus despite limited resources, Dwight Hall has focused efforts to expand its outreach program, which seeks to connect students with non-traditional service opportunities offered by groups who lack membership. This program does not require groups to be related to Dwight Hall.
Dwight Hall was established in 1886 as the Yale University Christian Association.