A record-breaking number of community service and social justice groups gained full Dwight Hall membership status after a vote at the organization’s semesterly cabinet meeting on Thursday.
At the meeting, executive committee members and member group representatives voted on whether to upgrade 13 member groups from provisional status to full-member status — the highest number in recent history, according to Dwight Hall co-coordinator Matthew Coffin ’19. Of the 13 up for vote, all were admitted.
“We’re thrilled about this recent uptick because it shows that students are getting excited about community service and linking their passions for supporting others with their engagements on campus,” said Dwight Hall co-coordinator Serena Ly ’20 in an email to the News.
Dwight Hall New Membership co-coordinator Nadia Irwanto ’20 said it is difficult to discern the root cause of the relatively large class, noting that sometimes the number of groups entering the organization is dependent on timing.
The main differences between provisional and full-member groups are the access to network coordinators and the priority organizations receive in resource allocation during periods of limited supplies, Irwanto said.
Traditionally, the student-run Dwight Hall Executive Committee votes to admit service and social justice organizations as provisional groups. After three semesters in good standing, the provisional groups are put up for a vote to obtain full membership at the semesterly cabinet meeting.
In interviews with the News, leaders of several of this semester’s new full-member groups expressed appreciation for the support they have received from Dwight Hall and excitement about what lies in store.
Refugee and Immigrant Student Education Co-president Malak Nasr ’19 said she hopes to see her group become more integrated into Dwight Hall and gain further access to leadership and mentoring. Girls on the Run Co-president Madeline Sachs ’19 and Yale Undergraduate Mindfulness Education Initiative Co-president Allie Forman ’19 both said they value the increased access to funding and other resources that they will gain as full-member groups.
Co-leader of Yale Students for Prison Divestment Travis DeShong ’19 and Yale Muslim Students Association President Nazar Chowdhury ’20 said they look forward to tapping into the Dwight Hall network and using their newfound full membership to engage with more students and member groups.
DeShong emphasized that, as a small and relatively new campus group, Yale Students for Prison Divestment could use Dwight Hall’s social justice network as a “good jumping-off point” to find future potential collaborators. Chowdhury similarly expressed interest in reaching out to other groups to collaborate on service efforts, moving away from having an exclusively “one-to-one” relationship with Dwight Hall.
While several new member group leaders described the process of becoming a full member as “straightforward,” leaders of some of the newly-admitted member groups said they found confusing the difference between provisional and full groups and the process of graduating from one level to the other.
Irwanto acknowledged that criticism about the transparency and clarity of Dwight Hall is fair, but she said the organization hopes to improve so that by next semester, no member groups will feel that way.
Given the high interest campus groups have shown in joining the coalition, Dwight Hall leadership said the organization has an opportunity to move closer to the role of a community hub that introduces students to services and fosters connections among member groups.
“I think [Dwight Hall has] a bigger role to play as more and more groups join, and we also have to capitalize on the fact that we are an umbrella service organization,” Irwanto said. “It’s really being a strong network that’s useful for groups and also a platform for members of the Yale community to go to if they are interested in contributing to service.”
Irwanto added that she believes the “improving” relationship between Yale and New Haven has caused more students to become interested in service to fulfill community needs by using their own interests and skill sets.
Ly said she agreed, adding that she hopes the good work and thoughtful consideration of Yale’s role in the community will continue.
“Students are finding niches that involve thinking about and supporting others in continuing to improve the New Haven community,” Ly said. “Hopefully, more and more students will consider the role that Yale students have to play in creating a synergistic relationship with New Haven.”
The other groups that gained full membership last week include AIESEC, the Connecticut Bail Fund, MoneyThink, Matriculate, No Lost Generation, Student Partnerships for Global Health, Yale Emergency Medical Services and Yale Undergraduate Legal Aid Association.
Asha Prihar | firstname.lastname@example.org