Families flock to campus in defiance of visitor restrictions
After the decision to move Family Weekend online, many parents opted to visit campus anyway, although Yale offered virtual programs throughout the weekend.
Daniel Zhao, Senior Photographer
Yale’s Family weekend took place virtually from Oct. 8-10, yet parents still flocked to campus to visit students in-person despite the prohibition of visitors within campus buildings.
Family weekend was originally scheduled to be in-person, but was abruptly moved online in early September due to COVID-19 concerns. Throughout the weekend, the University hosted a plethora of virtual events — including tours, lectures and presentations — aimed at giving Yale families a way to engage with and understand student life. Still, numerous families came to campus. While visitors are allowed within University public spaces — such as Cross Campus and the Broadway Shops at Yale — and the city of New Haven, residential colleges and other campus buildings are closed to guests.
“[The cancellation] was mainly with regards to the typically indoor events of 200 to 300 people,” Marvin Chun, Dean of Yale College, told the News. “We knew we could not do that. However, our message did not say ‘do not come to New Haven.’ This is not a prohibition to not come to town.”
Though visitors were allowed to New Haven, they were not permitted to enter the residential colleges without permission from an administrator, Health and Safety Leader or other managerial employee.
Still, at least one Yale residential college took note of the influx of visitors, and particularly of students bringing their families into dorms and shared common spaces.
In an email to all Saybrook students, Head of Saybrook College Thomas Near noted that visitors were not authorized to enter the dorms due to COVID-19 precautions.
“We have been seeing visitors in our college spaces that include the courtyards and entryways to student suites … I want to remind everyone that visitors who are not Yale students or Yale staff and faculty are not allowed in our spaces,” the email read.
The weekend’s virtual offerings ranged from a prerecorded collection of videos of the Yale Ballroom Dancing team to a live presentation entitled “Permission to Feel” with psychology professor Marc Brackett.
However, many Yale parents skipped the virtual options to spend the weekend in New Haven with their children. Tess Levy ’25 said her entire family opted to visit in person, allowing them to see her participate in extracurricular activities, such as an open rehearsal for her sketch comedy group.
Extracurricular groups, including Yale’s sketch comedy clubs, a cappella groups and Yale Political Union parties, all provide showcases for parents. Clementine Rice ’25, a member of The New Blue of Yale, explained how the group was able to “perform for a small group of parents in a small setting.”
The Yale Campus Bookstore profited from the weekend, by marketing itself toward the great influx of parents who visited. Yale Bookstore employee Pablo Sanchez-Levallois told the News that the bookstore hosted a special clearance and sale section out on the sidewalk and also employed “much more people than normal” to compensate for the influx of Yale families visiting.
Campus Customs hosted a special class ring tent — a typical staple of family weekend — where families could purchase specially licensed Yale class rings and fine jewelry on the sidewalk of Broadway Street.
“This has been a Yale family weekend tradition for the past 20 years, and we are not stopping just because family weekend went virtual,” Tim Migneco, Signitas sales director, told the News. “While we have seen less business this year, we are still shocked by the amount of families making purchases. Many families have told me they are making their purchase to commemorate the ability to travel to campus again. Everyone’s excited to be back.”
Whether by leading their grandparents through Cross Campus, siblings through The Shops at Yale or helping their parents sign up for a Zoom lecture, Yale students found ways to show their families the campus.
“I was with my parents all weekend,” Kennedy Anderson ’25. “It felt wonderful to be able to show them my home.”
Some students will have an additional opportunity to visit with their families during October recess, which lasts from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25.