Since Sept. 21, the Freshman Class Council has met three times to discuss this year’s social events. These events will be designed to simulate the classic Yale first-year experience — but online.
Comprising two representatives from each residential college, the group of 28 plans to gather weekly for the remainder of the semester. The FCC is primarily responsible for planning social events for the first-year class, but campus restrictions have forced both their council meetings and future events to be online.
Joe Boland ’23, who just completed his term as FCC vice president, expressed optimism about the new cohort’s adaptation to the year’s virtual nature. Boland has been leading FCC meetings alongside former FCC president and current Sophomore Class Council president Juan Diego Casallas Otalora ’23.
“After seeing them in action, I have complete faith in their creativity,” Boland said. “They are really taking charge.”
The newly elected representatives will again run for positions this week — this time voting among themselves for president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Boland and Casallas Otalora will officially hand over meeting proceedings once these executive board positions are filled at the end of the week.
Among the events and activities canceled this year due to campus restrictions are the first-year formal, the first-year barbecue and the sale of Yale-Harvard merchandise in preparation for The Game, though the council has not ruled out holding similar events at a later time.
With a record-breaking proportion of the first-year class taking classes off campus, the council’s planning involves a new layer of complexity. The plight of remote students is embodied in Iris Li ’24, a Pierson representative who is serving her term from her home in State College, Pennsylvania.
“Yale has not accommodated a lot of things to remote-style learning,” Li said. She also emphasized that COVID-19 precautions, not remote students, are the reason in-person events are banned. “Yale isn’t trying to make your lives harder just to include us.”
According to Li, representatives were told of the in-person event ban at their first meeting. The announcement was initially met with frustration, but representatives have since channeled their efforts toward new initiatives designed specifically for the year’s circumstances.
Both remote and in-residence first years can look forward to the council’s planned spirit days during the week of Halloween. Cheryl Chen ’24, a representative from Berkeley and chair of the FCC spirit week committee, hopes that remote students will feel accommodated.
“We are trying to encourage participation even in a virtual format,” Chen said. “The council really values our remote peers, and our number one priority is creating events that students can participate in regardless of their location.”
Though plans may continue to change, the committee will hold themed dress-up days, with students submitting photos to earn prizes such as gift cards or Yale apparel credit. Contest rules and other updates to the council’s social calendar will be posted on its Instagram page.
The council is also currently working on a program in which first years are matched one-on-one and can meet either in person or online, based on the students’ preferences. Murray representative Tri Ho ’24 hopes that the matching program will foster the types of inter-college connections that would typically begin for first years on Old Campus and ease the strain of virtual classes.
“Zoom is exhausting, and the Zoom fatigue is real,” Ho said. “We’re trying to incorporate as many in-person events as possible while still abiding with the community compact guidelines.”
1,267 members of the class of 2024 are currently enrolled in Yale College.
Isaac Yu | firstname.lastname@example.org