Dwight Hall hosted Alumni Receptions during Yale Alumni weekends in May and June. On May 26, 2017 we welcomed back the classes of '52, '57, '82, '87, '92, '97, and '02. The following reflection is written by a current student who attended the Alumni Reception on June 2, 2017 welcoming back the classes of '62, '67, '72, '77, '07, and '12.
Written by Uche Medoh '19
Last month’s Alumni Reunion Reception for the Classes of '62, '67, '72, '77, '07, and '12 hosted at Dwight Hall verified that the Yale student body has for generations been at the forefront of social justice in New Haven and around the world. That afternoon, I listened to conversation about student involvement during the black panther movement of the 60s and was amazed by their willingness to act in support, taking to the streets to protest. These alumni helped organize around labor unions and pushed for a coeducational institution all while juggling challenging coursework and participating in a multitude of extracurricular activities. It was easy to think about and draw parallels to recent events on campus that embodied the timeless Yalie resilience and spirit to fight in support of a cause, and I could not help but feel a sense of pride in the work that my colleagues and I have done in the community thus far.
Nonetheless, it was also quite obvious that the political and social climate was much different from that of today. Most poignant were the anecdotes of a group of men who recounted feelings of uneasiness and anxiety towards being drafted to fight in the Vietnam war. It was the first time I had ever heard of such an experience. They were students like myself, but their conception of terror seemed to be a bit more existential or life-threatening at the time. Each individual was randomly assigned a number (1-366) based on their date of birth. Those with low numbers understood that they would likely have to fight, and those with high numbers were effectively safe. The students with mid-tier numbers shocked me the most because they were the academic soldiers who had to deal with the uncertainty of tomorrow as well as their grades.
To be frank, I began to question whether my generation has had to deal with such intense circumstances while at Yale. One alumna explicitly posed the question, and I watched as my peers struggled to answer it. I, too, could not think of an event so present and lethal that it incapacitated our ability to think, read, or write at this institution. The insinuation of a coddled generation of college students silently swept the room. Weeks later, however, I have an answer.
Upon reflection, I have realized that we are all social warriors. We may fight different battles, but the end goal remains the same: a just and better community. Many of these alumni have fought to ensure certain privileges that we often overlook today, but that does not mean that our current battles are trivial. As we solve “old” problems, those that have been ignored arise. As a college-educated student, it is my responsibility to help solve them. Dwight Hall has afforded the space, resources, and guidance to students over the years to address difficult social issues without fear of failure. It’s timeless commitment to serving the community has made it a leader in social innovation. The alumni reunion event showed me that it is not important what I am doing, but that I am doing something to aid positive progression in social constructs and notions, community welfare, and/or species intelligence.
The key here is to contribute!
Uche Medoh '19 serves on the Dwight Hall Student Executive Committee as the Development Coordinator where he works closely with the Director of Development and Alumni Relations. Uche has organized student fundraising events such as Finals Care Packages and Toad's Place ticket sales to benefit Dwight Hall. He is also a part of the Dwight Hall Member Group Synapse, which combines both of his passions of community service and science education.