Courtesy of Hannah Turner

Dwight Hall — Yale’s Center for Public Service and Social Justice — kicked off the school year on Saturday with a club fair, where student groups dedicated to public service and social justice advertised their organizations to first years.

Groups such as the Yale Emergency Medical Services, the Yale Undergraduate Science Olympiad and the Migration Alliance at Yale connected with first years on Old Campus to offer various options dedicated to an important initiative: giving back.

Emily Zhang ’25 and William An ’24, the co-coordinators of the student arm at Dwight Hall,  said they were excited to see the bazaar “come to life” in a way that has been absent in recent years due to COVID-19.

“During the pandemic, Dwight Hall was just a building on campus,” Zhang told the News. “Now, we can promote this building’s purpose again — to let first years know that community relations are important and fulfilling.”

Dwight Hall includes over 70 student member groups and over 100 fellowship and leadership opportunities, with over 3,000 students involved in volunteering through Dwight Hall in 2022 alone.

Although certain groups, such as the Amnesty International and the Yale Prison Education Initiative, seek to make changes nationally and internationally, many seek to improve conditions locally, whether on campus or in New Haven.

Ben Swinchoski ’25, co-director of the Yale Student Mental Health Association, or YSMHA, told the News that previous experiences with Yale’s mental health resources — which he described as negative — led to his desire to advocate for better mental health care. He was then drawn to YSMHA’s work.

“YSMHA’s dedication to resources and awareness initiatives for mental health is incredible,” Swinchoski said. 

YSMHA’s work, Swinchoski added, extends beyond campus, including developing programming for New Haven youth as a part of their awareness work. Swinchoski recommended that people join the club – a group of “great people genuinely interested in helping those around him.”

In addition to discovering new service groups, students sought groups focused on their interests and passions.

Murat Khidoyatov ’27 said the bazaar was a “great event” due to the many groups and overall organization. Khidoytov told the News he attended the event because he views public service as a vital part of student life.

“It is important for students to not only seek their success at Yale but also to find ways to make an impact in the community around them,” Khidoyatov told the News.

Khidoyatov, who is interested in medicine and public health, said he found clubs at the bazaar that aligned with his interests and liked the opportunity to learn about ways to engage in the New Haven community while exploring his passions.

The bazaar was just one way to connect with Dwight Hall and its many groups. Zhang said that Dwight Hall also has opportunities for first-year students to promote public service and social justice without committing to a group, including the First-Year Day of Service in a few weeks.

“Dwight Hall is more than a physical space,” An said. “We want to help the community beyond these doors.”

Founded by undergraduate students in 1886, Dwight Hall is the country’s oldest student-led and university-affiliated service organization.