Yale News

Last March, when students left campus for spring break, most were not expecting to move out of their dorms for good. Although public health guidelines are still in flux, next semester’s housing policy — and the transitional period between terms — has demanded administrative planning well in advance of the end of fall semester.

In an email sent to the undergraduate community last Friday, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun outlined details for the end of the fall semester and shared preliminary policies for the spring. Chun’s email discussed plans for spring housing, moving out of the dorms in November, moving into the dorms in the spring and petitioning for exceptional housing permission.

“Right now, my primary focus is on safety,” Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd wrote in an email to the News. “Students have shown tremendous commitment to the public health, as well as great flexibility and creativity in finding ways to go about their daily lives. As we welcome a new wave of students back to campus in the spring, I’m hopeful that they will add their own contributions to our community efforts.”

Chun explained in his email that campus residences close on Nov. 21, though students are allowed to move out before then. Students leaving campus in November will need to take a COVID-19 test 72 hours before they travel home to reduce chances of spreading the virus as students leave campus. Although students are being sent home prior to Thanksgiving, classes do not end until Dec. 4. Students will be asked to complete the final week of classes, reading week and finals virtually and off campus.

Students who will not be returning to campus in the spring are expected to pack, store or donate their belongings and vacate their rooms. Those on campus for both terms can leave belongings in their room, which they will not be able to access when campus is closed. But Chun’s email also noted the possibility that the University may not be able to reopen as planned — which is why students will need to pack any belongings they are leaving behind, so that Yale can store or ship belongings if necessary.

Ben Kramer ’23 warned his peers to bring home “anything that they care about over winter break.” Although he requested his belongings to be stored on campus over the summer, Yale accidentally shipped them to New York. Kramer explained that when his boxes were finally shipped to his house in Wisconsin, nearly everything arrived covered in mold.

“It’s just not worth the chance of [your things] being lost or damaged in transit in the event that Yale isn’t able to reopen in February,” he told the News.

As outlined by the plans released by the University this summer, for the spring semester, first-year students will enroll remotely and sophomores will regain access to campus if they elect to enroll in residence.

According to Madeline Bale ’24, some of her classmates have already signed year-long leases in New Haven. This means they will be unable to access Yale facilities come spring if they remain off-campus.

Sophomores will receive first priority in housing assignments, Chun explained, since they will be returning from their semester of remote enrollment. All suites will use single bedrooms in order to reduce housing density.

Chun explained that in order to optimize the available housing and make suitemate preferences the highest priority, housing will be assigned centrally — as it was this fall — rather than through individual residential college lotteries or room draws.

“It is possible that senior and junior housing may need to be relocated or reconfigured if necessary due to increased demand,” Chun wrote. “But the expectation is that seniors and juniors currently living on campus will be able to stay in their current suites.”

All students who want to live on campus next semester, regardless of whether they are living on campus now, must request on-campus housing by Oct. 23 by responding to a questionnaire Boyd plans to send early this week. 

According to Chun, students are permitted to withdraw from campus housing at any time without incurring a relinquishment fee, as housing bills will only include prorated charges for room and board. If a student withdraws from a suitemate configuration after everyone else has accepted the assignment, the group may be assigned to another room or other suitemates. 

According to Boyd, planning for spring housing is more complex than for usual semesters, which accounts for its expedited timeline. Yale College officials must first take into account who wants to live on campus — which is less predictable than in an ordinary year — and then must take time to work through students’ preferences for housing arrangements. Once room assignments are finalized, sophomores’ belongings will need to be retrieved from storage and placed into their on-campus rooms.

“We are hopeful that, by allocating sufficient time, and by avoiding changes to housing assignments once they are set, the process will go smoothly,” Boyd wrote in an email to the News.

Boyd recommended that students who are still thinking through their decisions about the spring semester should speak with their Heads of College, Deans and other campus support, as well as with their parents and guardians.

Although move-in dates have not yet been established for the spring semester, Chun stated that he expects students to move in during the final week of January. More information about pre-arrival and arrival quarantine will be sent to students prior to the start of the spring semester.

In exceptional circumstances, students who want to remain on campus while it is closed between semesters, as well as first-year students who want to live on campus during the spring semester, may petition for permission to do so.

Eligibility for special permission will be granted primarily for students with adverse learning environments at home or financial or technological challenges; international students with visa or time zone challenges may also be eligible for on campus housing. 

The spring semester’s schedule has been modified to begin on Feb. 1.

Julia Bialek | julia.bialek@yale.edu

Emily Tian | emily.tian@yale.edu

Julia Bialek currently covers student policy and affairs for the Yale Daily News. Previously, she covered campus politics. Originally from Chappaqua, New York, Julia is a rising junior in Saybrook College studying political science and history.