The boundary between town and gown blurred this weekend as members of the Yale and New Haven community joined to celebrate the inauguration of Yale’s 23rd president.
At Saturday’s campus-wide open house event, the public was invited to explore Yale campus — including residential colleges and the Hall of Graduate Studies, which are usually restricted spaces. The openness of the event was both a testimony to former University President Richard Levin’s positive relationship with the city and a symbol of how President Salovey wants to strengthen that tradition, University spokesman and event organizer Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said.
“This event is a way to celebrate where we are today and where we plan to go in the future,” he said.
At the Canine Kickoff on Saturday morning, Bryce Wiatrack ’14 sang the New Haven Hymn — also sung during Yale’s Commencement — as a testament to Yale’s ties with the city. Before the canine procession, President Salovey gave a brief welcome, in which he said that Yale and New Haven are “in an eternal partnership.”
The afternoon festivities continued with opportunities to tour campus spaces including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, residential colleges and the Yale University Art Gallery. Morand estimated that over 1000 people attended the Peabody Museum’s Fiesta Latina and that at least 200 people were at the event’s closing ceremonies on Cross Campus.
New Haven resident Elsie Chapman, who went on the Harkness Tower tour and attended the closing ceremony, said she came to the open house both to explore Yale and to celebrate a growing relationship between the University and the city.
“I’ve only been living here for 10 years, but I’ve heard the stories there was all of this division,” Chapman said. “So it is heartening to see that Peter Salovey is continuing the tradition that Rick Levin and Bruce Alexander started, to make the institution more welcoming to New Haven.”
Not all New Haven residents in attendance expressed satisfaction with town-gown relations, though. Former nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital and a New Haven resident Wendy Hamilton used the open house as an opportunity to stage a protest against the Yale Corporation.
A self-proclaimed anarchist, Hamilton hired three New Haven residents to stand outside of Woodbridge Hall during the Canine Kickoff and hold up signs with statements like “Boola Boola share the moola” and “Light + truth or greed + denial.” Meanwhile, she garnered public attention by saying “tax Yale or tax you” through a megaphone.
“I was overworked and underpaid,” said Hamilton of her experience at Yale-New Haven hospital, where she worked from 1984 until 2009. “Yale has so much, but they aren’t sharing with the city.”
Zelda Moye, one of the three New Haven residents whom Hamilton hired, said she was sitting on the New Haven Green on Saturday morning when Hamilton approached her, asking her to participate in the protest in exchange for $25. Moye said she was not aware of what Hamilton was protesting against.
Two of the residents hired by Hamilton said that Yale could be sharing more of its money with New Haven.
“I like Yale, I have no problem with Yale,” Moye said. “But they could be giving something back.”
Sunday’s block party immediately following President Salovey’s inauguration attracted even more local residents than the open house event. Six New Haven residents who were interviewed said they liked the inclusiveness of the weekend’s festivities and felt that President Salovey would be a leader who would foster a positive relationship between Yale and New Haven.
The open house event offered Yale’s first ever Instagram Photo Challenge, judged by a team from the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communications.
Correction: Oct. 15
A previous version of this article misattributed several actions to Elsie Chapman, when they were in fact done by Wendy Hamilton.