Yasmine Halmane, Contributing Photographer

In light of the pandemic altering socializing on campus, Halloween celebrations for students will look different this year.

In most years, Halloween celebrations on campus include attending the costume party at Toads, going to Pierson’s annual Inferno Halloween party and watching the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s Halloween show. But this Oct. 31, Pierson’s dining hall will remain eerily quiet, students will trade one kind of mask for another and the Yale campus is more wary of public health scares than any Halloween frights. In order to abide by the University’s public health guidelines and gathering restrictions, students are expected to forgo large events for smaller-scale activities. 

“I hope that students will remember that they should take precautions to ensure that their Halloween plans are community-compact friendly,” Yale College Council President Aliesa Bahri ’22 said.

Fiona O’Brien ’22, Public Health Education for Peers representative for Pierson College, hopes that students remember that it is possible to celebrate Halloween in a fun way while also prioritizing the health and safety of the Yale community. The PHEP program is a group of 28 undergraduates working to promote harm reduction through education around public health guidelines, according to their website.

O’Brien offered suggestions for how to celebrate Halloween safely, including watching Halloween movies with suitemates and making Halloween-themed charcuterie boards.

Laine Garber ’22, the PHEP for Grace Hopper College, explained that many residential colleges are hosting events for students enrolled in residence. Additionally, there are many remote events that every student can participate in, from the YSO Halloween show to virtual residential college costume parties.

While the Yale Symphony Orchestra’s annual Halloween show will not be held in Woolsey Hall this year, colleges are broadcasting the midnight performance from their courtyards, weather permitting. This year, anyone can RSVP to the concert and watch it virtually for free.

Additionally, the otherwise closed Acorn Cafe, the student-run coffee shop and lounge on the fourth floor of Byers Hall in Silliman College, will be open for reservation for small groups of students baking Halloween-themed snacks. 

According to Head of College Stephen Davis, Pierson is also hosting a courtyard movie night on Friday night and a door-decorating contest. Pierson and other colleges are also hosting pumpkin-carving events.

And while individual student organizations and residential colleges are hosting events, the University is also providing safe ways for students to celebrate the holiday. According to Christelle Ramos, senior communications manager of Yale Hospitality, staff members are setting up a chocolate bar outside Sterling Memorial Library on Friday as a Halloween treat — the third event in an ongoing Bike Bites series.

However students decide to engage in the holiday, O’Brien emphasized the importance of holding each other accountable and making sure that friends are celebrating Halloween safely. Although those conversations are difficult, she stated that the PHEPs are always available to give students guidance.

“I think it’s important to start from a place of empathy,” O’Brien wrote in an email to the News. “Let your friends know that your concern is coming from a place of care about them and the community. From there, it’s helpful to be open about how their behavior makes you feel — that honesty might push them to rethink their own plans. Last but not least, come to the conversation with alternatives.”

Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun explained that his office has also disbursed additional funds to FroCos so that they can organize safe, pandemic-friendly activities for first years.

Julia Bialek | julia.bialek@yale.edu

Emily Tian | emily.tian@yale.edu

Julia Bialek currently serves as a public editor for the Yale Daily News. Previously, she covered the student policy & affairs beat as a reporter on the university desk. Originally from Chappaqua, New York, Julia is a junior in Saybrook College studying political science and history.