Daniel Mainye

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, the Yale School of Management hosted an outdoor Friendsgiving event for students in its programs.

For the Yale School of Management, this event is an important tradition to bring the community closer together, according to Rebecca Udler, director of academic affairs & student life. Though the event typically takes place inside of Evans Hall, this year’s Friendsgiving was hosted outside due to COVID-19 restrictions. It took place at the end of October instead of November due to concerns about cold weather in the week before Thanksgiving, according to Sherilyn Scully, assistant dean for academic affairs and student life. 

“SOM Friendsgiving Dinners are a wonderful opportunity for students to come together to celebrate our caring community,” Udler said. “They are a great chance for us all to show our gratitude during this season of thanks, and to enjoy being together.” 

During a normal year, Scully said SOM students enjoy the meal at long tables inside Evans Hall along with the 40 or 50 other members of their specific program. This year, those tables moved outside in order to abide by COVID-19 restrictions preventing indoor gatherings of large groups of people.

According to Scully, the meal typically consists of traditional Thanksgiving dishes such as turkey, pie, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. The event is organized so that students can break bread with others who are also in many of their core and elective classes to foster a strong community within the school, Scully added.

“There is such a great power in breaking bread and having a shared family-style meal [focusing on] thanks and giving,” Scully said. “These are the people that [SOM students] take their core curriculum and elective classes with, so this is a really powerful and lovely way for them to get to know each other better.” 

According to Scully, this year’s Friendsgiving had special significance as it was the first Friendsgiving that first- and second-year MBA students were able to experience, given that COVID-19 prevented SOM from hosting the event last year. 

Grania VanHerwarde SOM ’22, SOM student body vice president, emphasized that Friendsgiving was especially significant for her and many of her peers because they did not get one last year, making this year’s much more special. 

“I really enjoyed the event since there were so many people that I had gotten to meet virtually because of the pandemic,” VanHerwarde said. “It was amazing to finally be able to share a meal with them and foster a larger sense of community.”

For the event, SOM administrators decorate Evans Hall and provide free Yale apparel — which Scully said many students then wear to the annual Yale-Harvard football game.

Friendsgiving has been a tradition at SOM over the last 10 years, and is one of the main events hosted by the student life and academic affairs team in the fall term, according to Scully. She said that she and Udler held the first official Friendsgiving after hearing about informal meals that SOM students were enjoying together during the holiday season.

“[Udler] and I were both in a meeting with an MBA student near Thanksgiving and he told us that he had been invited to a casual dinner by his friends and they were calling it Friendsgiving,” Scully told the News. “We were so excited when we heard that because we knew that it would be an excellent tradition to replicate at SOM.”

The School of Management was founded in 1976. 

Yash Roy covers education & youth services in New Haven and is a P&D staffer. He is a first year in Timothy Dwight College and is from Princeton, NJ.