Yale parents savor their brief taste of campus life

From Thursday evening through Sunday night, mothers and fathers descended upon Yale for Parents’ Weekend to see their sons and daughters in action in the vibrant Yale community.

Some parents attended academic lectures that dealt with topics such as William Wordsworth or American foreign policy, but most families planned their weekends around extracurricular events. Freshmen finally attended the Freshman Assembly, which had been postponed from early September.

Freshmen and their parents packed Woolsey Hall Saturday morning for the assembly. This traditional freshman event, which is usually held the day after freshmen arrive on campus, was postponed last month because of a strike by Yale’s two largest unions, locals 34 and 35. Yale President Richard Levin and Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead addressed the freshman class and talked about what students can expect from their time at Yale.

Most freshmen said they were glad to finally attend the assembly. Geraldine Gassam ’07 said even in the middle of the semester, the Freshman Assembly was very special.

“I’ve been here for six weeks, but now it is official,” Gassam said. “It created good memories that I can look back on three years from now.”

Parents also reacted positively to the assembly. Paul Stemler, father of Philip Stemler ’07, said he was impressed with the speakers and that his opinion of Yale was not at all tarnished by the contentious strike.

“This is a great place to spend four years,” Stemler said. “I’ve very glad that my son is here.”

A cappella performances, improvisational comedy shows and sporting events packed the rest of the weekend schedule as eager parents took advantage of the opportunities available to their sons and daughters on a daily basis.

Residential colleges and freshman dorms were unusually crowded as many parents walked across courtyards and up stairs carrying bags of groceries and even laundry baskets. Instead of going to area restaurants, a number of parents ate in dining halls with their children and took the chance to experience one of the more unique elements of residential life at Yale. Masters’ receptions on Saturday were also well-attended.

Parents also found themselves occupied by practices and performances. Many parents of athletes went to practice with their sons and daughters. A large tailgate party at the Yale Bowl preceded Saturday’s football game against Dartmouth. Musical, comedy, dance and other performance groups had shows all over campus on Friday and Saturday nights.

But many students, busy studying for midterms, said they regretted that they couldn’t devote more time to their visiting parents. Andrew Banooni ’07 said he would have preferred it if Parents’ Weekend had been scheduled for a different time. With many activities planned in the community, it was more difficult for parents to see how much time their children devote to studies each day, he said.

Banooni, a member of the Yale Spizzwinks (?), who performed Saturday for a full audience at Dwight Memorial Chapel, said he was glad parents had the chance to see Yale as it operates after move-in day.

“Helping me set up my room in August, my parents really didn’t get to see what Yale is really about. I’m glad that all parents got a great taste of what Yale has to offer this weekend,” Banooni said.

Police officers distribute leaflets on Parents' Weekend as hundreds of freshmen and their parents stream into Woolsey Hall for the long-awaited Freshman Assembly.
Will Sullivan
Police officers distribute leaflets on Parents' Weekend as hundreds of freshmen and their parents stream into Woolsey Hall for the long-awaited Freshman Assembly.

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