Yale News

In the week leading up to Halloween, the First-Year College Council hosted a spirit week, designed to build camaraderie among their fellow first years.

The FCC announced a different dress up theme for every day of spirit week, beginning with Pajama Day on Monday, followed by Twin Day on Tuesday, ResCo Spirit Day on Wednesday, Formal Wear Night on Thursday and Yale Spirit Day to finish off on Friday. Throughout the week, residential colleges competed in daily photo competitions based on each day’s theme — both between individuals and between residential colleges.

FCC Vice President Ava Saylor ’24, said the week was a success. 

“This year, it’s been super, super difficult to [build community] because a lot of us aren’t even on campus,” Saylor said. “Then, along with the community compact and guidelines and things, it’s very hard to meet people, especially with people in quarantine, people being off campus. So our primary goal was to create an event that everyone had equal access to, that everyone could do in a safe way and that everyone could genuinely enjoy doing.”

Because of guidelines from the University prohibiting any in-person activities, the FCC turned to social media to push participation for the spirit week.

Along with promotional posts, the FCC Instagram account featured daily photo submission competitions centered around each day’s theme. First years could post pictures to their Instagram accounts and tag the FCC. At the end of each day, the FCC would pick four photos, and the community would then vote on those photos and choose a winner, who earned a $25 voucher to the Yale Bookstore.

The FCC received over 650 individual photo submissions, according to FCC Treasurer Nikolay Mitev ’24, who ran the spirit week committee along with Berkeley FCC Representative Cheryl Chen ’24.

“I was just kind of blown away by the capacity of social media,” Chen said. “In the midst of none of us being allowed to actually meet each other or see each other, you can still hold events like this. And how incredible it is that Yalies are still willing to participate in spirit week, right? Because I feel like this to some extent is a reflection of the student body, like how much they love their school … I felt like it was just really, really cool to see how many people were willing to do funky things dressed up weirdly, and posted on Instagram for everyone to see.”

To increase participation further, the FCC hosted a competition between residential colleges, so each person dressed up in spirit wear who was featured on social media also earned their residential college a point and winners of the daily contests earned five points. The college with the most points at the end of the week would win custom stickers, which will be made in the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design, specific to their college.

Pierson came in first place, leading the competition each day, with a total of 176 points, over double the 81 points of Ezra Stiles, which took second place, according to Saylor. For ResCo Spirit Day, Pierson gathered 55 students in the courtyard, distanced and masked, for a picture taken by Pierson FroCo Grace Jin ’21.

Featured in the Pierson photo virtually was Iris Li ’24, the only FCC representative who is studying remotely. Li helped tabulate points from the Instagram submissions and embraced the submission process as an opportunity to familiarize herself with her classmates.

“There are not that many remote-friendly events, in a sense, at Yale,” Li said. “I have a lot of [events] like, ‘Come pick up cookies, come pick up food for duty night,’ and none of that has been really accessible to remote kids. So I guess one of the big calls of spirit week is that it’s not tied to a location. … Obviously, the remote kids GroupMe has been very receptive to event planning that includes them because it’s rare, so it’s extra appreciated.”

Li mentioned that she noticed about three to seven submissions from remote first years per day, which was more than she expected, she said.

With the regulations from the University set in place, the spirit week planners had remote students in mind when picking themes.

“I think the main consideration was, ‘Can people do this without having to go out and buy new things?’” Chen said. “That led to a lot of us suggesting things that weren’t picked, too, like Crazy Hair Day. … But we did go through with Pajama Day, just things that people would have in their wardrobe and could therefore participate regardless of where they are in the country, even if they are remote.”

Being the week before Halloween, the spirit week served not only as an opportunity to build Yale spirit, but also to get first years in the Halloween mood. Alicia Mazzurra ’24, who won the daily competition for Formal Wear Night, matched with her suitemate on Twin Day, sporting an all-black, “witchy” look with a pumpkin to complete the ensemble.

The fall 2020 semester saw 1,267 first years enroll, while another 344 admitted students chose to take gap years.

Adam Levine | a.levine@yale.edu