Alexandra Schmeling

Sharon Kugler, the University chaplain, greeted me in the midst of setting up a bouncy castle with three of the Chaplain’s Office Peer Liaisons.

“I think people will get less shy and start jumping sometime soon,” she said.

Throughout Camp Yale, Kugler and the Chaplain’s Office hosted several events to welcome new students to Yale. The Office will continue hosting events throughout and after shopping period to advertise its resources to the broader Yale community.

“We’re looking to help connect students to what’s meaningful to them, to a greater community,” said Jenny Peek, associateuniversity chaplain. “One common misconception is that you need to be religious to visit the Chaplain’s office — you don’t. You can be religious, spiritual, or not, and eat our ice cream and use our spaces.”

Beyond having a chili dinner for first-year counselors and handing out ice cream to families moving in, the Chaplain’s Office has publicized open Christian, Jewish, and Jumu’ah services, among other traditions. Ian Oliver, pastor of the University Church of Yale, said that first-year students should look around at the different groups and find a community that resonates with them.

Part of the Chaplain’s Office’s outreach this year includes having a team of six sophomore, junior and senior peer liaisons, who will work with first years who request a peer liaison to help them adjust to life at Yale. The office also supports Chaplain’s Fellows, typically juniors from different residential colleges who are interested in leading conversations on moral and religious questions. The Chaplain’s Fellows plan to hold a “Chellow’s Week” — “chellow” being a shortened version of “chaplain fellow” — twice a semester, where they will hold various de-stressing events for students throughout the colleges.

Kevin Kim ’19, a Woodbridge fellow in the Chaplain’s Office, called the Chaplain’s Office an “underutilized space,” saying that it has a lot of programming that people would benefit from but do not know about. The spaces include the Breathing Room — a tech-free zone under Welch Hall featuring a meditation room and an arts and crafts room.

Kugler noted that several first-years have already stopped by the Chaplain’s Office in the basement of Bingham Hall to simply sit on a couch and eat ice cream. She believes the peace that students can find in the Chaplain’s Office can be helpful to new students adjusting to the pace of life at Yale.

“Take it slow,” she said. “There’s a temptation to hurry and rush at Yale. I find that first years get hit with a wall of exhaustion at a certain point in the semester. You don’t need to go that fast. Take time to breathe. It’s going to be okay. You will figure things out.”

Breathing Space’s first Cookies and Coloring study break of the year, featuring free cookies, will be held next Thursday at 4 p.m.

Helena Lyng-Olsen |