Some sophomores who elected to live off campus in New Haven this semester are faced with a choice: return back to residential colleges this spring, or follow through on their commitment to live close to Yale without access to campus facilities.
On Oct. 6, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun sent a collegewide email that stated sophomore students who wanted access to campus must live in the residential colleges.
“I’m frustrated because the logic from messaging in the summer about the year seemed like sophomores would be granted more flexibility with the spring,” Nicole Dirks ’23 said.
Several sophomores interviewed by the News expressed hopes that the University would extend its spring housing policy, which grants enrolled juniors and seniors living off campus access to campus, to sophomores, too.
Dirks said she is opting to get tested twice a week through Yale’s free COVID-19 testing program, which was made available to off-campus and remotely enrolled students last month. Dirks asked why the University plans to treat sophomores differently than off-campus juniors and seniors, despite their similar situations.
As an international student from Canada, Dirks signed a nine-month lease in New Haven to “be close to the Yale experience.” But because of visa technicalities, she’s not permitted to get an on-campus job.
Dirks is sharing her apartment with two other Yale students who are not currently taking classes. Finding a quiet, undisturbed space to study and listen to her lectures has proven challenging. Dirks had been looking forward to having access to University libraries in the spring.
“I’m in a bit of a corner,” Dirks said. Navigating the subletting market is daunting, she explained, especially because she currently has flatmates. Unless she quickly finds a replacement for her nine-month lease so she can return to her residential college in the spring, she is more or less locked in.
Miriam Kopyto ’23 was among a select group of sophomores who the University permitted to live on campus this fall. But she felt sure she did not want to live in a dorm given concerns about the pandemic, not only because she did not want to live with strangers, but also because she has asthma and strict dietary restrictions. Kopyto is currently living off campus in New Haven instead.
Although students on campus are regularly tested, Kopyto was not keen to interact with classmates who may be less careful about abiding by public health guidelines than she is. Off campus, she said that she and her friends are being “very responsible” and “only hanging out with each other.”
Kopyto also works in an immunology lab at Yale, and was hoping that when restrictions ease she would be permitted to do in-person research again. She wishes the University would grant her a chance to do so in the spring while still permitting her to live off campus. However, given the policy outlined by Dean Chun, she says that she will “just have to prepare to move again” to her residential college, and hopes that “her floormates won’t be partying irresponsibly.”
For Cameron Adams ’24, who originally was part of the class of 2023 but is currently on leave, whether or not Yale permits off-campus sophomores access to facilities could be the deciding factor as he considers extending his leave into the spring semester.
Dean Chun confirmed that the sophomore housing policy for the spring term is not expected to undergo further revision.
“The main reason why we require sophomores to live on campus next semester is because sophomores can live off campus in their junior year, and if we do not require them to live in colleges this semester, there will be a cohort of students who have never lived in colleges,” Chun said.
Even during the pandemic — when the traditional Yale has all but disappeared — such a possibility, Chun said, would “break traditions too much.”
Chun explained that if sophomores spend one semester in residence this year, they would be permitted to live off campus next fall.
Cameron Janssens ’24, who was also originally part of the class of 2023 but is now on leave remotely, said that Yale should consider extending its off-campus in-residence policy to sophomores as well.
“Sophomores can control who goes in their apartment,” Janssens said. “There’s less foot traffic than in a dorm.”
In most years, around 15 to 20 percent of juniors and seniors elect to live off campus.
Emily Tian | email@example.com