Yasmine Halmane, Staff Photographer

Given the recent surge in the delta variant of COVID-19, the University is cancelling in-person components of many of its events that attract large crowds from outside New Haven, including the Yale Law School reunion.

On Sept. 9, Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken announced via email that the in-person Yale Law School Alumni Weekend, during which Law School alumni from around the world typically come back to New Haven, would be canceled. Virtual alternatives have not yet been announced; Gerken said that staff and alumni volunteers would “explore” options. 

Executive Director of the Yale Alumni Association Weili Cheng ’77 told the News that this decision is “in line” with other University decisions about in-person gatherings in the near future. Other major in-person events that have recently been moved online include Yale College family weekend and the launch of Yale’s capital campaign. 

“I write to you with the heartbreaking news that the Law School must cancel Alumni Weekend 2021 due to the delta variant surge,” Gerken wrote in her Sept. 9 email to Law School alumni. “In order to ensure that the campus can continue with on-campus teaching and learning — which is core to the magic of this place — the University has had to shift plans for several highly-anticipated visitor events, including making its Campaign launch in October virtual … While we are deeply disappointed with the news, we appreciate everything the University has done to keep our community protected and to ensure we can hold in-person classes safely.”

The Law School had planned to hold two separate alumni weekends this year, given that last year’s reunions were not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first weekend, originally scheduled for Oct. 21 through Oct. 24, was for alumni whose class years ended in 5s and 6s. The second, originally scheduled for Nov. 4 through Nov. 7, was for alumni whose class years ended in 0s and 1s. 

“I’m so sorry to be the one to deliver this news, and I will miss seeing you all terribly,” Gerken wrote in her Sept. 9 email. “Thank you for your patience during this challenging time. I look forward to the day when we can all return to normalcy.”

According to the Law School website, Law School alumni who booked hotel rooms at the Blake Hotel, the Graduate New Haven, the New Haven Hotel, the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, the Study at Yale or the Courtyard by Marriott at Yale are able to receive a full refund if they cancel their reservation by the hotel’s specified cutoff date — the earliest of which is Sept. 21.

Yale College and nearly all other Yale professional schools hold their reunions in the spring, and the Yale Alumni Association is tentatively planning for a series of in-person reunion weekends. 

As spring reunions were held virtually in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the YAA hopes to be able to welcome all those who missed their reunions back to campus in May and June 2022.

“As for Yale College Reunions, we are at this time planning to hold in-person reunions in the spring,” Cheng wrote to the News. “We very much miss hosting our alumni back on campus. Of course, we will closely monitor the situation and make adjustments as warranted and as circumstances dictate.”

The two other major in-person events planned for this fall — Yale College family weekend and Yale’s capital campaign launch — have been moved online. 

In an email to Yale College students and parents announcing the cancellation of in-person family weekend, Chun said the move was precautionary, as Yale’s COVID-19 rates have been low so far.

“Yale’s positivity rates are very low, and this precaution is intended to increase the chances that they will stay low,” Chun wrote in his email. “I hope that you will understand and support this change, and that your family members will participate online.”

Yale’s capital campaign launch, which marks the beginning of University President Peter Salovey’s five-year fundraising campaign, was shifted to a virtual event in early September. Capital campaigns are held once during each university president’s tenure, and the last campaign, held between 2006 and 2011, brought in $3.88 billion.

The typically in-person launch of the major campaign will be held virtually on Oct. 2. The launch sign-up website advertises an “unforgettable online experience” to kick off Yale’s “bold, university-wide campaign.”

The University has over 130,000 living alumni, according to the Yale Alumni Magazine.

Julia Brown served as University Editor on the Managing Board of 2023. Previously, she covered the University's graduate and professional schools as a staff reporter. She graduated cum laude from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics & Mathematics.
Amelia Davidson was the University Editor for the Yale Daily News. Before that, she covered admissions, financial aid and alumni as a staff reporter. Originally from the Washington D.C. area, she is a junior in Pauli Murray College majoring in American studies.