The News spoke to students and staff about how they are engaging with Yale’s resources for religious and faith groups in the first few weeks of the semester.
Joshua Zhang, Contributing Reporter
From Hinduism to Catholicism to the Baháʼí Faith, Yalies across campus are actively involved in religious communities.
The start of the academic year often means an adjustment period, especially for first-year students – adjusting to religious life at Yale is no exception. Nonetheless, there are a wide range of resources available to assist students in finding their place within religious communities at Yale, including the Chaplain’s Office.
For Ayush Iyer ’26, Yale offers a unique experience to engage more deeply with his Hindu faith.
“It’s been meaningful to me because [Hinduism] was not something I really got to explore at home, ”Iyer said. “We had a small temple at my house but I come from a small town and there’s not a large Hindu population… so the fact that things are accessible here and there’s people that I share that identity with is huge.”
The Yale Hindu Students Organization has hosted various prayer events at both the Battell Chapel and the dedicated Hindu Prayer Room in the basement of Bingham Hall. Iyer said that the group’s events, like a clay idol making session last month, served both as “good spiritual experiences” and bonding experience with people that he “inherently shares a connection with.”
Overall, Iyer told the News that he has had a very positive experience with the Hindu community at Yale thus far, and he feels like his faith is now “less something to hide or be ashamed of.”
According to a survey conducted by the Chaplain’s Office, 70.2 percent of the students in the classes of 2022-2025 identify with a religion or faith group.
The Chaplain’s Office can be found in the Basement of Entryway D in Bingham Hall, located at 300 College Street.
At Yale, there are approximately 30 religious communities that students can get involved in. The Chaplain’s Office website as well as their Instagram page, @yalechaplain, offers a resource for students who are interested in joining a religious community but are not sure where to start.
“Coming to college is a lot, so trying to find a place where you feel grounded, where you can exhale, where you can breathe and feel like you’re a little bit at home… is really important.” said Maytal Saltiel, an Associate University Chaplain.
Head University Chaplain Sharon Kugler is one of the more visible faith leaders on campus, but there are a total of six other chaplains who act as resources for students. On the Chaplain’s Office webpagestudents can make a “Chat with a Chaplain” appointment and speak with a chaplain one-on-one.
To receive weekly updates about the latest events, students can also sign up for the Yale Chaplain’s Office eTelegram on their website.
“Particularly for first years, our peer liaisons are really important,” Saltiel told the News.
Peer liaisons are upperclassmen that can help first years “navigate life at Yale, whether it’s everyday issues or bigger issues,” Saltiel said. Peer liaisons within the Chaplain’s Office “help [first years] find the right resources. “
Within the Chaplain’s Office, there are a total of seven peer liaisons who are each assigned to work with first year students at two residential colleges. Each peer liaison has a different faith background, but they all serve a common purpose.
Samantha White ’23, one of the peer liaisons for the Chaplain’s Office, works with first-year students who are from Branford and Davenport. She emphasized the importance of simply being present and available for first years.
“A lot of my job is just talking with people, understanding how they’re doing, giving them tools to navigate Yale on the whole,” White said.
White describes her job as “another added layer of support” for first-years that are adjusting to life at Yale.
Another first-year student, Zach Lipsher ’26, described his experience being in the Jewish community after coming to Yale and engaging with the Slifka Center – particularly its weekly Shabbat dinners.
“It’s been a great experience … doing the wine blessing, doing the bread blessing, saying the prayers, and just having a kosher dinner that I’m used to having,” Lipsher said. “Just doing the small things like that has been something that reminds me of my heritage.”
The Yale Chaplain’s Office is located in the basement of Bingham Hall Entryway D on Old Campus.