Communiversity Day opens Yale to the city

Although Old Campus has resembled a carnival all this week, on Saturday it will open its gates to host a special event for the New Haven community.

Communiversity Day is an annual event sponsored by the Yale chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed community service fraternity. Saturday’s event will feature a community action bazaar, a kids’ carnival, entertainment and free food for New Haven residents.

Alpha Phi Omega coordinator Julie Ehrlich ’03 said Communiversity Day is a chance for New Haven residents to come and see what New Haven and Yale have to offer.

“I think that this is one of the only days of the year that Yale is open to the community on the community’s terms,” Ehrlich said. “Even though the relationship between the town and the University is so much better than it was 20 years ago when the event was started, these relations are still really important to keep up.”

Michael Morand, the associate vice president in the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, said in an e-mail that his office supports Communiversity Day financially and logistically. He added that the bonds between Yale and New Haven are stronger than ever.

“Under President [Richard] Levin’s leadership, Yale is making sustained contributions to a strong New Haven, with a retail downtown, 500 new homeowners in the Yale Homebuyer Program, and more than 1,000 jobs in biotech companies from Yale research,” Morand said. “Communiversity Day provides yet another way to celebrate these ties that bind New Haven and its hometown university.”

Entertainment will be provided by both Yale and New Haven groups. Ehrlich said that Yale a cappella group Something Extra, Yale Unity, the Anti-Gravity Society and the Troup Middle School drill team will perform.

Groups such as the New Haven Reads Book Bank, AIDS Project New Haven and various mentoring programs will participate in the community action bazaar, Ehrlich said.

Dwight Hall’s Education Network Coordinator Lauren Keane ’03 said in an e-mail that Communiversity Day is the only day the University actively invites the community onto campus.

“I think [Communiversity Day is] an important acknowledgement of Yale’s attempts to connect with New Haven on a more meaningful level, but equally importantly, a way to recognize that the relationship goes both ways — New Haven has plenty to give Yale and Yalies as well,” Keane said.

Keane added that event should not be seen Yale self-promotion, but instead as a chance for Yale and New Haven to learn about each other.

“I think it’s important that we not look at Communiversity Day as a [public relations] move for Yale to showcase everything it does in New Haven, but more as a chance for the two to come together and check each other out,” she said.

Alpha Phi Omega member Joshua Bloom ’03 said he would like the event to increase Yale student involvement in the community.

“Hopefully, it will bring more Yale students into the fold and get them interested in how they can help out,” Bloom said.

Ehrlich said she hoped the event would be bigger than in previous years because every New Haven school child got a flyer about Communiversity Day, and the event was advertised on WYBC radio.

Comments