Eric Wang

During a time of high political tension, Dwight Hall’s Advocacy Network, a coalition of students and New Haven residents dedicated to social justice work, held its first meeting this Sunday.

In the historic Dwight Hall building, students and Elm City residents alike met to expand on-campus social justice initiatives and further connect Yale with the New Haven community.

“We offer a space for these groups and activists to learn from each other’s campaigns, offer help and collaborate on actions together,” said Jamie Chan ’22, one of the Advocacy Network coordinators. “Advocating for social change cannot be done alone and so we hope to provide a platform where resources from each individual and interest group can be commonly accessed.”

The motivation behind this network emerged during the hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s ‘87 LAW ‘90 nomination to the Supreme Court, said Grace Kang, another coordinator. Following allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, many students expressed frustration, but there was no organized body that aimed to get everyone involved. The Network aims to unify groups in an event similar to the Kavanaugh hearings, Kang added.

Groups and individuals can come together through the Advocacy Network to build a response that is an accumulation of everyone’s efforts and insights, which will translate to more powerful and potent action, Chan said.

“When Dwight Hall was created in 1886, the goal was to support public service and social advocacy in New Haven,” Kang said. “Over time, Dwight Hall became more and more focused on the public service side of things, and advocacy kind of fell through the cracks.”

The Network is an initiative to try to restart the legacy of advocacy, said Savannah Crichton ’21, another one of the group’s coordinators.

The Advocacy Network will meet on the first Sunday of every month, and members can come to as many meetings as they please, Chan said. Each meeting will be conducted open-floor style for members to discuss what they are working on. According to Chan, the Network aims to unify the different social groups at Yale to promote efficiency. The Network promotes each group’s social justice mission as well as expands the overall culture of social justice activism on campus, Chan added.

“All of the meetings are community oriented and we’ll go into discussion about a social issue,” said Crichton. “It’ll be similar to a roundtable situation where people share the events that are going on in their groups.”

Open to all Yale, Dwight Hall and New Haven individuals and organizations, the Network is creating a speaker series — which will include the voices of Elm City activists — and is developing workshops to learn basic skills such as public speaking and base building, Chan said. The group is also working towards setting up connections with major campus organizations and cultural centers.

“Our long-term goal is to not only work with advocacy groups in New Haven, but also with groups around Connecticut,” Kang said. “We already have connections to other universities around Connecticut, so we hope that the Dwight Hall Advocacy Network can be something that is adopted and used by not just Yale students, but by anyone who really wants to be part of something large and impactful.”

The coordinators hope that this group will help develop relationships which will in turn create an investment in social justice.

Dwight Hall has nearly one hundred service groups dedicated to public work.

Kelly Wei | kelly.wei@yale.edu