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After over two months living in a downtown New Haven hotel, 27 Yalies will move back on campus following the decision to no longer use McClellan Hall for COVID-19 isolation housing.

Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd wrote to the displaced students on Nov. 3 informing them of McClellan’s return to mixed-college housing. Students had the option to move back into their assigned rooms starting Nov. 5 and will need to complete the move by the end of the semester, Boyd wrote in an email to the News. The decision came one day before the University’s announcement that the COVID-19 alert level had downshifted from yellow to green in correlation with low campus case levels.

“I’m very grateful to the McClellan students for their flexibility and understanding at the start of the year, when McClellan was turned into back-up isolation housing,” Boyd wrote. “Luckily, that housing has not been needed — at this point in the year, Yale’s public health advisers felt it was possible to reopen McClellan to the students who had planned to live there.”

McClellan Hall, located on Yale’s Old Campus, was originally intended to serve as mixed-college housing for upper-level students who wanted to stay on campus while also living with friends from different residential colleges. But in a surprise Aug. 27 announcement — which came after some students had already moved in and just days before others were slated to — students were informed that McClellan was being converted into supplementary COVID-19 isolation housing, rendering it unavailable to the general student body. 

The University initially planned to use Arnold Hall as its only on-campus isolation housing, but arrival testing data, coupled with a late-summer surge in cases nationwide driven by the Delta variant, compelled administrators to increase isolation housing capacity. 

Of the 47 students originally slated to live in McClellan, Boyd told the News in October that 27 chose to stay at the Omni Hotel this fall, while 20 others opted into alternative on-campus housing.

“The McClellan students will not be asked to move again this year,” Boyd said this week.

Ishana Aggarwal ’22, a senior majoring in economics and English, said that she was “really disappointed” by the initial move to the Omni. Aggarwal said that while she may have chosen an alternate housing option if the switch from McClellan had been communicated earlier in the summer, she ultimately “really enjoyed” living at the Omni. She called the staff at the Omni “super friendly and helpful” and praised the University’s response to student feedback about the situation. 

Aggarwal said that she appreciated how spacious the rooms at the Omni are and how much storage space is available. She also spoke highly of the amenities the University has provided for students living at the hotel, including free breakfast, free laundry services, two daily Uber credits and weekly cleaning services. 

The Yale Conferences and Events team is providing a professional moving service to assist students in the moving process, according to Boyd. Students can choose from a handful of designated days before the semester’s end to complete the transition.

“I personally would not want to move back in until next semester,” Aggarwal said. “I am enjoying my time at the Omni — I do not want to deal with the stress of moving all my stuff out during the middle of the semester with lots of deadlines approaching and classes becoming more demanding.”

In regard to students who were originally slated to live in McClellan and opted to move into alternate campus housing at the beginning of the semester rather than staying in the Omni, Boyd said they may choose whether to stay in their current housing or move into their previously assigned rooms in McClellan.

Aliaksandra Tucha ’22, a senior in Davenport College, said that while she felt “swept off [her] feet” by the initial announcement of McClellan’s conversion, she resolved to maintain a positive attitude towards the situation and seek alternate options. Tucha said she had been worried that living at the Omni might make it harder for her to make new friends and spend time with old ones, given the hotel’s layout and relative distance from campus. Despite the amenities associated with living in a hotel, Tucha said she felt living in close proximity to her peers was a “greater luxury.”

“At the heart, Yale is about people,” Tucha said. “At the Omni, it was not clear which room who was living in, how to find spaces to spend time together in, who are University students and who are strangers.”

Still, Tucha said that she thought the situation was “handled with grace” and characterized Boyd as being “open to dialogue” and eager to work with students to improve the situation. 

Tucha ultimately found an open room in Davenport and was able to move in at her convenience. She characterized her experience working with Davenport College Office team members Rhonda Vegliante and Shaffrona Phillip-Christie as “so supportive, kind and understanding.” Tucha said that while McClellan is a “lovely space,” her room in Davenport feels like “home” now, and she plans to stay for the remainder of the year.

“Bear in mind that this all was happening in the shopping period,” Tucha said. “Class selection, first meetings with friends after a long time apart, choosing activities for the year and then the move-in and move-out of McClellan and then in and out of the Omni made it all feel quite surreal. In the end, it was what it was, an unexpected adventure, an exercise in dealing with sudden uncertainty.”

The Omni Hotel is located at 155 Temple St.

OLIVIA TUCKER
Olivia Tucker covers student policy and affairs. She previously served as an associate editor of the Yale Daily News Magazine and covered gender equity and diversity as a staff reporter. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a sophomore in Davenport College majoring in English.