Amay Tewari

Yale Memers found new ammunition for Overheard at Yale this semester in the form of two see-through domes planted in Silliman’s courtyard and dubbed, appropriately, “Siligloos.”

The transparent igloo tents were installed in Silliman College’s courtyard at the beginning of this term. Initiated by Head of Silliman College Laurie Santos in collaboration with the Silliman Activities and Administration Committee (SAAC), the igloos are intended to provide an outdoor communal space for students during the winter. Silliman installed the first igloo as a surprise in time for the start of classes on Jan. 13. Just two weeks later, the dome duplicated, and in consultation with the SAAC, Silliman’s courtyard suddenly boasted two igloos. There are no plans for the installation of more igloos this semester.

It was Santos — who is also a psychology professor — who came up with the idea to have the igloos installed in Silliman’s courtyard, she said.

“I have long wanted to find a way to allow students to hang out in the courtyard during the colder months,” Santos wrote in an email to the News. “I pitched the idea to our SAAC and students were excited about trying it out.”

The igloos’ installation fits in well with Silliman’s reputation as the home of the Good Life Center, a campus hub for student wellness. The igloos aim to increase student well-being, Santos said — a goal that aligns with that of the Good Life Center, a student wellness center located in Silliman College that Santos founded in fall 2018. The new igloos were inspired by Santos’ experience in a similar igloo at 116 Crown, a restaurant in New Haven, she said.

Other ongoing initiatives Santos has spearheaded in the college have not received such wide recognition. Such programs include HIIT — high-intensity interval training — classes as well as other exercise programs and communal dinners at Santos’s house.

The igloos are outfitted with furnishings including shag rugs, artificial plants, electric candles and cushioned chairs. The structures act as greenhouses and block wind as well as retain heat from sunlight that streams in. On Tuesday, despite cloudy weather and a 44 degrees Fahrenheit forecast, the thermometer inside an igloo read 60 degrees.

“The Silligloo provided me an amazing opportunity to take in some sun and relax after a long day of classes,” said Bhargav Ramesh ’23 , who is a student in Branford College.

Members of the Yale Community beyond Silliman have taken note of the courtyard’s latest addition.

Santos did not anticipate the high degree of student engagement with the initiative.

“They’re always occupied,” Santos told the News. “I think they’ve become a [more popular] topic of conversation around campus than I even expected, especially on sites like Overheard at Yale and Yale Meme page, as well as on the Yale Alumni social media sites.”

Humorous posts by Yale students on the popular Yale Memes page have hypothesized that the igloos will continue to multiply. But Santos affirmed that only two igloos — as originally planned — will occupy the college’s courtyard.

Amelia Dilworth ’23, a Branford student who stopped in an empty igloo between classes on Tuesday, told the News that she appreciates the extra effort and investment that these structures required.

“It’s something I didn’t know I needed,” she said.

Depending on what the SAAC decides, the two igloos are intended to remain in the Silliman courtyard until the weather gets warmer.

Nicole Dirks | .


Nicole Dirks serves as the Managing Editor for Special Projects at the News. She previously wrote for the Yale Daily News Magazine. Originally from Toronto, she is a junior in Branford College majoring in English and Cognitive Science.