Roughly 700 members of the class of 2018 crowded into Commons Saturday morning for the first ever sophomore class brunch.
Enjoying fare from Yale Catering, Tony’s Square Donuts and Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea, students listened as Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway addressed the class about the struggles of transitioning to sophomore year and the importance of class unity. Attendees also enjoyed attractions such as a photo booth stocked with a Handsome Dan cutout, a world map on which students could mark their hometowns, a small exhibition of sophomore art and an ice sculpture that read “Yale University Class of 2018.” The organizers, who envisioned the event not just as a one-time affair but as a lasting annual tradition, said they were encouraged by the substantial turnout. Funding for the event came from the Council of Masters, the Yale College Dean’s Office and the Undergraduate Organizations Committee. The groups have yet to determine how they will share funding responsibilities in future years.
“We’re hoping we can turn this into something that becomes an annual event for sophomores,” said Kevin Sullivan ’18, a member of the Sophomore Class Council and one of the lead organizers of the brunch. “I think that, at the very least, we’ve just shown that this can be a success.”
The event entered its planning stages in September when SoCo began to discuss the difficulties of the transition from freshmen to sophomore year, SoCo President Sarah Armstrong ’18 said. The council brainstormed ways to counteract the “fracturing” of the class caused by the move from Old Campus to residential colleges. Ultimately, SoCo decided to plan an event modeled roughly on the Freshman Holiday Dinner at which the entire class could come together. The food generally resembled that served at a typical residential college brunch — eggs, potatoes, vegan pancakes — but with the addition of Tony’s Square Donuts.
Reception was highly positive among attendees, many of whom felt the brunch offered a unique opportunity to engage with classmates they rarely encounter.
“The sophomore brunch was a great way to get our class together again all in one place,” said Pauline Kaminski ’18, who attended the event. “I got to see some friends that I’ve lost touch with over the past year, and it was truly fun to take some time, catch up and unwind with past and current friends.”
Although the event drew its inspiration from the Freshman Holiday Dinner, it differed significantly from that and other class-wide events hosted by Yale Dining in Commons. Few donned formal attire, students were free to wander in at any time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and paper liners and crayons replaced the linen tablecloths used at more upscale events.
“We wanted to scale it down a little bit from [how fancy] events usually are,” Armstrong said. “We wanted it to be more of a low-key event where people can just connect.”
Armstrong said the Council of Masters and the YCDO supported the idea of making the brunch a new tradition and enthusiastically supported funding it in future years.
In his short speech to the sophomore class, Holloway said establishing the brunch as a new tradition represents an assertion of hope and solidarity.
“A simple act of breaking bread as a class — starting a tradition that recognizes that you do have something in common — is an important … investment in the belief in a positive future,” Holloway said.