A Note on Spring 2022 from Dwight Hall’s Executive Director

Welcome back to campus!

As Dwight Hall regroups after an abrupt end to the fall semester, it’s clear that our hope for a return to in-person activities will continue to be disappointed—at least for the time being.

Last summer Dwight Hall was excited to plan a year full of programming, events, and community engagement—everything that had been severely constrained since March 2020. With the arrival of the  COVID-19 Delta variant, followed by the even more contagious Omicron variant, we faced an undesirable reality: that this pandemic is not over and that we must  continue to learn how to adapt our work—remote volunteering, online or distanced contact, new ways of civic engagement. To serve our community effectively in this time of great need, adaptation is necessary.

In advance of the Spring 2022 semester, Dwight Hall’s student leaders and staff have responded to pandemic challenges in the following ways:

Growth: In order to ensure that students are able to find meaningful ways to engage with the wider community, Dwight Hall is adding 25 additional remote fellowship placements for the spring semester. We have learned over the course of the pandemic that we can serve our community effectively through these remote fellowships and that these experiences provide individual growth, peer support & reflection, and professional development that is comparable to in-person fellowship placements.

Accessibility: By making the most of technology and our new proficiency with online programming, Dwight Hall has focused on producing events that bring together students, alumni, community leaders, and content experts. This online presence highlights the ways that, even today, people can shape a course that combines personal fulfillment with service to society. These virtual means of engagement have been necessary. With traditional activities and campus spaces restricted (for two years going on part of three), we risk losing  knowledge of opportunities, customs, and practices that usually are passed on to each new class as they make themselves at home  around campus and community. For first-generation/low-income students, this is especially acute since under ordinary circumstances there are greater challenges to learning the lay of the land amidst Yale’s hidden curriculum.

Building for the future: This spring, we will invest in smart technology and equipment that will allow us to better host interactive events that bring people together from different locations and time zones. The Hall’s investment in infrastructure and technology will enable  campus and community to engage, collaborate, and learn from each other more effectively. The Hall will become a gathering place both physically and virtually that will increase intercultural and intergenerational changemaking. These investments directly respond to our current pandemic reality but will continue to shape Dwight Hall events, opportunities, and engagement in an increasingly technologically connected global service space.

It is easy to feel discouraged by the unrelenting oppression of this public health crisis, to feel overwhelmed by a sense of universal breakdown. But times like these call  for us to persevere together and to ask ourselves what more we can do to make things better. Our community depends on the contribution of every civic-minded person. Our students deserve a Yale experience that prioritizes community engagement and public service as an integral part of their formation and growth. I am excited by possibilities that lie ahead.

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