Bulldog Days back in person for first time since pandemic’s start
After a three-year hiatus, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions will once again host Bulldog Days on campus.
Zoe Berg, Photo Editor
Bulldog Days — Yale’s on-campus admitted students program — will return this April after two years of virtual programming, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions announced Thursday.
After meeting with Yale’s COVID Response Team and Yale’s COVID Policy team over the past several months, the admissions office received the green light to host Bulldog Days April 25-27. The weekend will include several public health restrictions — all admitted students coming to campus will have to be vaccinated, test pre-arrival and on arrival and all events will be de-densified.
The last iteration of the event held in New Haven was in 2019, after the class of 2023 received their acceptances. In 2020 and 2021, the admissions office cultivated month-long virtual versions of the program due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“For decades, Bulldog Days has been an especially meaningful and memorable experience for thousands of admitted and current students,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan wrote in an email to the News. “For those first-years and sophomores who could not have their own Bulldog Days experience as a prefrosh, I hope that participating in this year’s program – as a host, student group representative, or just a welcoming presence on campus – will serve as an opportunity to share the Yale experience with new students and re-establish the program as an important Yale College tradition.”
Jillian Albrecht ’22, a recruitment coordinator in the admissions office, said that this year’s program will most closely resemble the Bulldog Days of 2019, albeit with some COVID-19-era adjustments. Senior Assistant Director of Admissions Jill Carrera ’17 outlined how the program will differ this year.
Firstly, Yale will send prospective students pre-arrival testing kits. After testing negative at home, the admitted students may travel to New Haven, where they will have to test again. If a student tests positive, they will be tested again to confirm the result and then will be moved into isolation housing on campus or given the option to arrange for private transportation home.
Carrera said that it is “nonnegotiable” for all attendees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccinations, including any eligible booster shots.
Nevertheless, the chief goal, according to Carrera, is to minimize the density on campus during Bulldog Days. Students will only be allowed to host a maximum of two admitted students each during the event, and each suite will have its hosting capacity capped at four or five.
Where previous iterations of Bulldog Days have invited admitted students and their families to spend three days in New Haven, only admitted students will be allowed to visit campus in the spring. Carrera said that she expects this to cut attendance from the typical 2,000 visitors to about 1,200. However, certain factors such as a larger body of admitted students or admits’ desires to avoid infection could throw the estimation off-kilter, she acknowledged.
Another change affects Bulldog Days events — all events will require pre-registration.
“This includes panels, master classes and student events,” Carrera said.
Previously, students could move freely through the various activities Yale hosts during Bulldog Days and for popular panels or master classes, prospective students would pack into venues, sitting on the floor when chair space was no longer available. Now, students will have to register for events through an app, and there will be limits on capacity. Carrera said that the size of each individual space would determine the scope of the attendance reduction.
For students who cannot visit campus in April, the admissions office will continue to offer virtual outreach events for admits and their parents. According to Carrera, adapting to an online model over the past few years helped the admissions office create virtual programming infrastructure to serve admitted students who are unable to attend Bulldog Days, a group that has fallen through the cracks in prior years.
Still, Carrera and Albrecht are excited to see the event return to New Haven once again. Carrera pointed to the entire campus’s involvement in the event, and Albrecht stressed how Bulldog Days serves underrepresented communities at Yale.
“For a lot of students, [Bulldog Days] is the only time they’re able to visit Yale,” Albrecht wrote in an email to the News. “This is especially important for FGLI students, such as myself, who don’t have the resources to visit Yale and are only able to attend with assistance from Yale’s travel stipend.”
The two found Bulldog Days foundational to their own Yale experiences. Carrera said that Bulldog Days 2013 confirmed for her that she had chosen the right college when committing to Yale, and Albrecht said the event convinced her to choose the University. Albrecht also emphasized the “responsibility” current Yalies have of showing admitted students the full breadth of life at Yale, including the amazing classes and resources and also where the school has “fallen short.”
And of course, Carrera said, there is no way to know how the pandemic will develop in the next two months.
“Obviously any plan is provisional because we could have another variant in April or cases on campus could spike in April which would force us to move to virtual programming,” Carrera told the News.
Nevertheless, she continued that she hopes hosting Bulldog Days in New Haven and the return of Spring Fling portend “things going back to normal.”
Yale has so far offered admission to 800 potential members of the class of 2026.