Three years after Dwight Hall’s cabinet denied full membership to the pro-life student organization Choose Life at Yale, Dwight Hall member groups and executive leadership voted Wednesday on whether to promote the pro-choice group Reproductive Action League at Yale from provisional status. Dwight Hall also voted on whether to pass a resolution that would make the legalization of marijuana a priority for the organization’s activism.
The results of the vote will not be released until later this week. At the biannual cabinet meeting, the executive committee and member group representatives considered appointing two provisional groups, RALY and Yale Undergraduate Science Olympiad, to full-member status, which grants the group funding priority, a seat in the cabinet and a network to focus on long-term sustainability. The committee also voted on whether to approve a resolution proposed by Students for Sensible Drug Policy declaring Dwight Hall’s institutional support for the decriminalization and legal regulation of marijuana.
RALY, one of the two provisional groups considered, aims to empower student activists to engage with the political and cultural issues of reproductive justice — the organization volunteers at Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, a national organization that advances pro-choice policies and politicians. RALY president Maraya Keny-Guyer ’19 said her group takes an “intersectional lens” to reproductive justice, as it is “an issue of social justice and social inequality.”
In 2014, CLAY applied for full membership status but was ultimately rejected and no longer has Dwight Hall affiliation. In response to deliberations over whether to promote CLAY and RALY to full membership, an October 2016 op-ed by Aaron Sibarium ’18, a staff columnist for the News, called on Dwight Hall to “take the issue of abortion off the table.”
“To accept RALY into Dwight Hall would, I think, send the message that abortion is just as much a part of social justice as, say, helping the poor,” Sibarium told the News. “So I guess my worry is that in accepting RALY Dwight Hall will alienate pro-life students and normalize an overly-simplistic view of social justice.”
And though the cabinet’s vote results have not yet been released, several representatives from Dwight Hall student groups told the News that they supported RALY’s appointment to full member group. Bebe Thompson ’20 said support of Planned Parenthood was a paramount issue.
With regards to CLAY’s rejection, however, some students explained that CLAY’s pro-life emphasis may have been unappealing to members of the Dwight Hall cabinet.
“The president of RALY said that their focus was not on abortion but rather on preventative health awareness for all people. I think CLAY may have been too focused,” said Daniel Robinson ’20, a representative from Best Buddies, a service group for people with disabilities, who said he voted in favor of appointing RALY to full membership status.
With regards to the 2014 decision, Dwight Hall co-coordinator Anthony D’Ambrosio ’18 cited the cabinet’s politically liberal leaning as a reason for CLAY’s rejection.
In addition to RALY, the cabinet voted on whether to grant membership to YUSO, an organization that hosts an annual science competition at Yale that attracts 1,100 parents, students and teachers. The national Science Olympiad organization hopes to increase male, female and minority representation in the sciences by encouraging children to participate in competitive science events.
If RALY and YUSO achieve a majority vote of executive committee members, they will be promoted to full member status, having served three semesters as provisional groups.
As part of a new initiative to maximize input, the cabinet also voted on whether to add two new statements to its index of resolutions. According to Dwight Hall co-coordinator Matthew Coffin ’19, the program serves to inform Dwight Hall leaders about “what policy initiatives our member groups want us to pursue.” The resolutions guide the allocation of funding and Dwight Hall resources.
In the fall, Dwight Hall approved eight statements in the inauguration of the index of resolutions. The motions covered a variety of issues ranging from animal cruelty to human rights in North Korea. The Dwight Hall co-coordinators speculated that over time, the resolutions would become increasingly relevant to current events and more controversial.
The resolution proposed by SSDP would signify Dwight Hall’s institutional support of the taxing and legalization of marijuana. The organization’s treasurer, Riley Tillitt ’19, said the formal statement would serve to inform the Yale community and attract attention to the issue of marijuana legalization.
“We see the war on drugs as a catastrophe both financially and in terms of the human lives its damaged and ruined in many cases,” Tillitt said. “We support ending the war on drugs which entails not punishing possession of any drug and certainly if the possession is not with intention to distribute.”
Yale’s Urban Debate League had proposed a resolution that would formalize Dwight Hall’s support for the expansion for community service educational programs in New Haven public schools, including debate and public speaking initiatives. However, representatives did not attend the meeting on Wednesday, so the resolution will not pass this semester.