With nearly a quarter of undergraduates enrolled in “Psychology and the Good Life,” the happiness levels of Yale undergraduates have become the subject of widespread discussion on campus and in the national media. But undergraduates are not the only students on campus in need of a dose of fun.

This semester, the University’s graduate and professional schools are continuing outreach efforts to foster community among graduate students, professional students and postdoctoral scholars across different academic units.

Advertised as one of the biggest graduate social nights of the year, the Annual McDougal Grad Winter Ball, which will take place this year at the Omni New Haven Hotel on Feb. 24, is one such effort to foster happiness among graduate and professional students. Tickets for the 18th McDougal Ball went on sale Feb. 1.

According to Lisa Brandes, assistant dean for student affairs and director of graduate student life, the ball serves as an opportunity for graduate students to socialize in a semiformal way.

“The idea was to give grad students some of what the undergrads had in the residential colleges, knowing that 80 percent of the graduate students don’t live on campus,” Brandes said. “So it’s giving them a sort of community life for all the different interests that grad students have outside of the lab and outside of the library.”

With the purchase of a $25 ticket, students and their guests can enjoy a dessert reception and one alcoholic drink or soda as they dance to music provided by a student DJ. And before the ball, which will be masquerade-themed, the University will arrange for students to receive discounts at some local restaurants.

According to Brandes, the ball is designed to promote wellness, as it recognizes that “grad students can have a life outside the lab or outside the library.”        

“That’s kind of what we’re all about here at Yale — recognizing the whole person,” Brandes said.

Adrian Ledesma-Mendoza GRD ’22, a social fellow for the McDougal Student Life Office, emphasized that the event also aims to bring together students from across the graduate and professional schools.

“I’m surrounded with other grad students where I can meet people I maybe would not meet in my department, which is very important because especially in grad school you tend to lock yourself a lot into your department,” Ledesma-Mendoza said. “So it’s very hard for students to venture out and meet people who are not in your field, and the winter ball provides that opportunity.”

Other social events for graduate students include regular happy hours, an arts night and a family night.

Rasmus Hoegh GRD ’18, a master’s student in the one-year international and development economics program, said he and his friends are excited to attend the event.

“It’s fun. It’s the big ball, sort of the formal the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has,” Hoegh said.

He added that he does not feel a large degree of separation between students in the different departments, noting that he recently attended a ball at the School of Public Health.

And Alejandra Campo FES ’19 said that while there could be more social events across schools, she believes Yale’s graduate programs do work to foster a sense of community and an emphasis on student well-being.

The McDougal Graduate Student Center recently relocated to 135 Prospect Street.

Carly Wanna | carly.wanna@yale.edu