A special Halloween feature written by Hailey Winston and the Cross Campus Staff Bloggers. Illustrations by Annelisa Leinbach. Happy Halloween from XC.

Something magical surrounds our bright college years at Yale. With the leaves changing colors and the promise of snow in the air, the spiraling towers at Yale are picturesque reminders of Hogwarts Castle. Students have always pointed out the many parallels between the University and the wizarding world of Harry Potter. In celebration of Halloween this year, XC has crafted a list of the most magical and enchanting facets of the campus in an attempt to pinpoint why exactly Yale can feel like Hogwarts…


Commons during the Freshman Dinner in 2010. Photo by Antonia Woodford.

Union Station

1. Every magical journey at Yale begins with a train ride. A Hogwarts Express of sorts, running along the New Haven Line, swiftly takes students from the bustle of New York City, through the Connecticut countryside and deposits them at Yale’s front door at Union Station. The century-old Union Station boasts an ornate ceiling, limestone walls and stainless steel tunnels. Photo by Vivienne Zhang. 

2. Not to mention the various incidences of Dementors, manifested in the form of power outages and schedule delays, wreaking havoc on the commute this past month.

3. Students scurry up and down spiral staircases within gothic castles. Similar to the landings and spiral stairs of Gryffindor house, the entryways to each college provide access to little pieces of Hogwarts-esque heaven, complete with a common room, armchairs, fireplaces, and all of the other spoils necessary to lead a proper wizarding life.

NHV Green

4. We have our own Forbidden Forest just off of the campus grounds. To Yalies, it might be more commonly known as the New Haven Green, a place you may only wish to venture at night if in search of unexpected adventure. One never knows what might be lurking amidst the oak and nettle… maybe just a bowtruckle or maybe something more sinister.

5. In the Harry Potter world, dangerous wizards are locked up in Azkaban, the wizard prison. At Yale, we banish our foes to a sad and destitute halfway house called Harvard, a place that young men and women go to drown in terrible parties and endless misery. One might also consider Columbia, or at least Barnard, a Beauxbatons of sorts and Princeton or Dartmouth an adequate Durmstrang.

6. Drank too much butterbeer? Just head to the infirmary and Madam Pomphrey (in the form of friendly nurses) will fix you up with a magic cure in no time. You might even find yourself surprised: a standard dose of orange juice could work quite as well as some PepperUp Potion. Butterbeer pong anyone?

Photo of New Haven Green after dark by Florian Koenigsberger.

7. The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir, beware. Saybrugians have contended with several bouts of dark magic this year. The college has suffered attacks on their laundry and floods in their common room, leaving its members to search for their own personal Tom Riddle. All that remains is to stab a venomous snake fang through the perpetrator’s soul (or at least one of seven parts of his soul)…

8. In possession of the magic swipe card of a Yale ID, like a wand from Ollivander’s, the gifted witches and wizards of Yale University easily alohomora their way into residential college courtyards and ever-bustling dining halls.

Owl9. Those selected attend are informed with letters of acceptance just like the one Harry once received at Privet Drive. Moreover, the Yale Admissions Office generously encourages the use of owl mail in communicating on matters of application and attendance. XC gently reminds prospective students to dispatch their swiftest owls addressed to Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan at 38 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven CT 06511 as soon as possible.

10. Speaking of mail by owls, these creatures also seem to have full run of Yale Station (the campus Owlry), where the wait is just as long as you might expect of a postal system reliant on bird travel.


11. A sorting hat in its own right, the Yale Admissions Office follows mysterious and strategic formulas to place students into residential colleges — their homes for four years precisely in the vein of Hogwart’s Houses. Yale’s version may not be black and pointy, but it too sings songs of welcome — in the form of welcome letters from masters and deans, and it too offers words of warning — dark times ahead, prepare yourselves for L-Dub.

12. During Commencement, former Dean of Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel even donned his own Sorting Hat as part of a Class Day tradition where students and faculty attend sporting a range of creative headwear.

13. Access the Yale counterpart to Honeydukes, Durfee’s Sweet Shop, through a secret passageway from the halls of Old Campus. Durfee’s sells all of the magical spoils necessary for living college in grandeur: The Luna chocolates and Chobani treats within are perhaps just as satisfying as Ice Mice and Pepper Imps. But be sure to ask a second-year which door of Durfee Hall to charm open, and which way to turn at the bottom of the stairs, or you could find yourself trapped in the Hump of the One-Eyed Witch.

14. Home to some of the country’s oldest university buildings, Yale too boasts tunnels and secret passages, and without the inconvenience of moving staircases. Travel underground and up spiral stairs between Bass and Sterling libraries. Lesser known hidden corridors exist as well, such as the one connecting the Saybrook and Branford sides of Vanderbilt Hall and the tunnel system beneath Payne Whitney… the others you must find for yourself, unless you stumble upon your own copy of the Marauder’s Map.

15. Each year, fortunate students in conveniently located dorm rooms happen upon the network of underground steam tunnels that connect the city of New Haven like its own Floo Network. Try a door. Here at Yale, you never know where it might lead.

Steam Tunnel Map

A 1917 construction plan of Yale’s tunnel system, which today connects the residential colleges and other buildings. Photo by Nora Caplan-Bricker.

Medieval Gargoyle

16. Ghouls and gargoyles embedded into the University’s architecture provide the school with its fair share of garish creatures. These carved spectacles include men and monsters of all sorts from creatures in funny hats to old men making faces to the rare seraphic angel. Photographers have spent decades chronicling the endless oddities carved into Yale’s stone structures, and yet continue to find more and morePhoto of medieval gargoyle by Stephanie Rivkin. 

17. Ever wanted to study Herbology? Just head up Prospect St. to the School of Forestry and you could find yourself knee deep in Fanged Geraniums and Dragon Dung. Just watch out for that Devil’s Snare!

18. Whatever your academic inclination, Yale offers every equivalent to Hogwart’s magical options. Yale first-years take a course load of distributional requirements in the same way that entering Hogwarts students complete a core curriculum in Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, History of Magic, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy and Herbology in order to try out every magical specialty at their command.


19. “Christian Theology and Harry Potter” (CSBR 352) was first offered by professor Danielle Tumminio at Yale in 2008 as a residential college seminar.

20. At Hogwarts, there is “Defence Against the Dark Arts.” Since Professor Alexander Nemerov’s departure, Yale has been left defenceless against the dark void that is now introductory art history (from the Renaissance to the present). Meanwhile, who knows what number of students have submitted applications to Grand Strategy, better known as the Dark Arts themselves.

21. If you’re a fan of Hermione’s teacher’s pet, book-worm ways, you’re in luck! Stop by any Yale classroom and look for that one hand shooting up after (and sometimes in the middle of) each question posed by the professor. There is always that one hand…

22. That little lux in Lux et Veritas? A veiled reference to the wand-lighting charm Lumos of course. Photo by Emilie Foyer.


23. A preponderance of oil paintings decorate the corridors at Yale and Hogwarts. Dumbledore’s office is covered in the portraits of headmasters past. So are the dining halls of residential colleges, the walls of which bear the acrylic likenesses of centuries of masters and deans. For the occasional mischievous student, their eyes may even follow you as you walk down the halls…

photo (7)

24. Commons Dining Hall — home to long rows of tables, suspended candelabras, ornate architectural flourishes and traditional holiday banquets. No trip to the Great Hall is needed to witness a proper Christmas feast, with the Freshman Holiday Dinner being one of the most celebrated and extravagant displays this side of Hogwarts. Photo and pumpkin carving by Phoebe Gould.

25. Yule Balls have been thrown on multiple occasions by college councils through Yale’s history. The most recent affair was held in February when students danced and then dined on hand-crafted delicacies including Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Pretzel Wands and Ton-Tongue Toffee.


26. Residential colleges collect points throughout the year to vie for the Tyng Cup (or, if you prefer, the House Cup). Let’s be honest, the ping-pong season finals next week will be as intense as any game of Quidditch.

27. But for those not enticed by non-magical sports, Yale’s own Quidditch Team likes to play matches on Cross Campus — brooms, snitches, quaffles and all. Each team is composed of three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and a seeker. Those make the cut train for the Quidditch World Cup to play against other top Quidditch institutions.


The Yale Quidditch team defeated Harvard on Cross Campus a day before The Game on Nov. 20. in 2009. Photo by Sarah Scott.

28. Head to the Trophy Room in Payne Whitney for some midnight shenanigans. Sneak around amidst the metals and plaques to experience your own little dose of Hogwarts magic. Relics of the Harvard-Yale rivalry replace lists of head boys and girls, but this room contains all of the magic of the gothic-style, musty room in Hogwarts. Careful not to let Filch catch you!

29. The observatory on Science Hill is eerily similar to Hogwarts’ very own Astronomy Tower, where witches and wizards partake in the very muggle-like activity of star gazing.


30. Yale’s extensive libraries, a labyrinthine maze of books, rival the infinite bookshelves of Hogwarts library with selections ranging from glittering manuscripts at Beinecke to countless dusty volumes in Sterling. Did you know the Department of Rare Books at the Yale Center for British Art has even acquired its very own copy of J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard? Photo of Sterling Memorial Library by Blair Seideman.

31. Like the dungeons beneath the Hogwarts Castle, the depth of Sterling Library — The Stacks — are rumored to be actually haunted by evil spirits. Anyone who has wandered into their unlit corridors after dark can testify to this.

32. Curiously, if you wander far enough through the bowels of the Yale’s libraries, you might stumble upon the Slytherin Common Room incarnate in Bass Library. Housed within this abyss, underground beneath the rest of the campus, are the souls of students languishing under finals deadlines.

33. For these forsaken beings, Thain Cafe sits at the entrance of Bass Library like Severus Snape’s Potions Classroom, with all manner of draughts and elixirs at the ready in the form of specialty lattes or rejuvenating energy drinks. Perhaps a lucky purchaser might stumble upon a vial of Felix Felicis.

34. Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts… Well-a Boola, Boo, Boola, Boola, Boo.


Photo of Hogwarts Castle courtyard Cross Campus in the winter by Kerri Lu.

35. Like Albus Dumbledore was a beloved Headmaster of Hogwarts, President Salovey is a beloved President of Yale — ruling the campus with a twinkle in his eye. Now that his moustache is gone, perhaps he should start growing a long, white beard…


36. Not to mention the University’s affinity for academic robes and regalia is not unlike something you might expect to find at Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions. Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

37. Even on the average blustery day, you might bump into many a Harry Potter look-alike strolling down College Street. Dark hair, thick-framed glasses, pullover sweater, a striped scarf… Yale’s students population boasts quite the impressive collection of hipsters (perhaps the most impressive out of the Ivy League) with a tendency to dress as if they really did attend a school for wizardry and witchcraft.

38. The wizarding world had a Knight Bus and so does Yale. The Night Bus at Yale runs everyday of the year. Any stranded student need only call the magic number for the bus to pick them up from a corner of campus and drop them off wherever requested.

39. In the winter months, and really just all year round, Yale’s grand and storied tradition of a cappella permeates the campus like the song of Hogwart’s Frog Choir.


40.Hogsmeade looked like a Christmas card,” and so does Yale in the wintertime as a blanket of snow settles over the campus and surrounding shops. Photo by Omar Njie, Brianne Bowen, Chris Peak.


41. Toad’s serves as an ample Hog’s Head, a dingy pub and town staple which attracts all manner of folk and happenings. Down the street, students might grab dinner and drinks at New Haven’s own Three Broomsticks, the established and cozy haunt for students known as Atticus. And professors might enjoy weekly drinks at Mory’s, Yale’s very own Leaky Cauldron. Photo of Atticus by Kamaria Greenfield.

42. Fancy a treat? Visitors never fail to make a stop at Ashley’s Ice Cream, Yale’s very own Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour.

43. Fantastic beasts dot the campus. Where to find them? Residential college masters have a habit of keeping pets in the college courtyards. Not a far cry from Fang or Crookshanks, Yale’s selection includes golden retrievers in the Timothy Dwight courtyard, a brown lab in Ezra Stiles and countless others. Photo of Yale’s mascot by Maria Zepeda.


44. The Yale equivalent of prefects, FroCos serve pancakes full of little bites of magic in the form of chocolate chips. And when a freshman has a rough Saturday night, they arrive so fast it’s as if they’ve apparated to the rescue.

45. Wizarding Wireless Network or WYBC?

magic546. Tombs of various secret societies are scattered around Yale’s castle-like buildings. Perhaps one is actually the door to 12 Grimmauld Pl. (the hidden headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix) or the Room of Requirement (which hosts the most secret of all societies — Dumbledore’s Army). Skull & Bones? Book & Snake? Scroll & Key? Names that certainly sound like they were plucked out of Harry Potter.

47. Delivered to your dining halls each day, a perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee, is a freshly printed copy of The Daily Prophet. Or better known here as simply, the News.

Happy Halloween from XC! Send any items we missed to crosscampus@yaledailynews.com. Previous XC posts on Halloween can be found in the XC Costume Guide and Halloweekend in Preview. Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 12.55.16 AMPhoto of Hogwarts Yale in the spring by Joyce Xi.