Yale: Little change likely in 300th celebration

Yale administrators, deans, masters and student representatives met Wednesday to discuss the fate of the final tercentennial weekend in October. While no decisions are final, officials said it is likely the multi-million dollar celebration will go on almost exactly as planned, with an added recognition of the victims from last week’s terrorist attacks.

Wednesday’s meeting at Woodbridge Hall was one of several recent administrative gatherings about how the University should proceed with its extravagant plans for its 300th birthday in the wake of last Tuesday’s events and amid talk of America going to war.

The University plans to hold a party on the night of Friday, Oct. 5th, at the Yale Bowl with fireworks, concerts and multimedia presentations. Administrators said they are still uncertain how the losses to the Yale community will be recognized at the Friday celebration. Officials said some possibilities include a moment of silence, a reading of Yale victims’ names and opening and closing the event with prayers.

Administrators are most concerned about whether the firework display would be appropriate in light of recent events.

On Monday, Yale President Richard Levin e-mailed all Yale students asking them to share their thoughts about the celebration. Officials said they are still waiting for more responses before they decide what exactly to do, but that the daytime academic convocation on Oct. 5 will continue as planned, as will the next day’s symposium featuring former President Bill Clinton LAW ’73.

Top officials are taking the situation seriously — Wednesday’s meeting included Yale Police Chief James Perrotti, most college masters, the deans of all the professional schools, members of the tercentennial steering committee, union heads and graduate and undergraduate student representatives.

Top administrators said they are relying on public opinion because they are uncertain which aspects of the planned celebration would be appropriate given recent events. Levin said hundreds of e-mails have already arrived since he requested student input and he and University Secretary Linda Lorimer have been reading them personally.

Sentiment was strong among administrators that the University should remain wedded to its original plans.

“I can feel the fact that a sheer celebration seems inappropriate, but you can’t grieve forever,” said Yale College Associate Dean Penelope Laurans.

Other administrators said that the timing of Tuesday’s events is unfortunate and makes the decision for Yale tough.

“On the one hand, there’s a strong feeling of not wanting to let terrorists dictate what we do and our celebration, but on the other hand we have to acknowledge the terrible things that have happened,” Calhoun College Master William Sledge said.

Laurans added that fireworks and the Counting Crows concert may be “therapeutic” to a grieving community.

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