Yale Daily News

Commencement weekend is set to take place between May 19 and May 22.

University President Peter Salovey will host a reception for graduating seniors in Beinecke Plaza on May 20. Other events which are set to take place that Saturday include the Senior Carillon Concert, the Black Graduates’ Celebration and the Yale Glee Club Commencement. The following day will consist of a day-long celebration for Yale College’s graduating seniors and their families. 

The day is generally divided into a baccalaureate ceremony in the morning and Class Day ceremony in the afternoon, and both will take place on Old Campus. The commencement ceremony itself will take place on Monday, May 22 at 10:30 a.m., followed by diploma ceremonies in each residential college.

“I’m really excited about the work everyone’s doing because they are pulling in so many different perspectives, whether it’s individual or organizational,” Class Day Committee chair Alison Coleman said. “And so you’ll see that reflected in the program.”

According to Coleman, the baccalaureate ceremony will be very formal, where seniors gather on Old Campus “in all their serious pomp and circumstance.” The ceremony, which has religious origins, is now reflective of a diverse range of religious traditions, Coleman said.

During the baccalaureate ceremony, Salovey and Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis will address the class in opening remarks. Then seniors and their families will depart for brunch before returning at 2 p.m. for the Class Day ceremony. Heads of college and deans will accompany their students to Cross Campus in preparation for the ceremony.

The Class Day ceremony, unlike the baccalaureate ceremony, is a less formal affair.

“Everybody’s wearing crazy hats that they’ve decorated themselves,” Coleman said. “[They] are just all over the map in terms of what kind of festive festooning people want to add to their hats.”

Once students arrive on Cross Campus, there is a procession across Elm Street for seniors to take their seats on Old Campus. 

A procession from the Schwarzman Center through Phelps Gate of around 60 people involved in Class Day — including Class Day Committee members, student speakers and class officers — will lead the way carrying a Class of 2023 banner. 

The Class Day ceremony will begin a student speech before members of the Class Day Committee introduce the Class Day speaker. This year’s speaker, award-winning poet Elizabeth Alexander ’84, will deliver an approximately 25- to 30-minute address.

Throughout the rest of the program, there will be a range of speeches that the speakers’ subcommittee has arranged, as well as a conferral of prizes for particular Yale College seniors.

“Our speeches this year really focused on love and gratitude and community,” said Anastasia Hufham ’23, who is a former staff reporter for the News. “There’s also a comedic piece, just some inside jokes that the Class of 2023 specifically would appreciate.”

The committee is also accepting submissions for several forms of media to collect memories and works of Yale College seniors, both through an anthology in print form and a class history, stitched together in a short five to seven minute video.

While Coleman says that not all students come forward with submissions, she hopes that “the spirit is really there that it is a day for everyone.” Other members encouraged seniors to send their memories and works of the last four years to the committee.

“This is just another way for students to get involved and we would love for them to take advantage of it,” Bayan Galal ’23 said.

Zaporah Price ’23, who has led the composition of the anthology, added a particular section dedicated to “departing proverbs,” Coleman said. This section will include “short and sweet” words of wisdom and well wishes from faculty and administrators to the graduates. Price is a former managing editor for the News.

According to Eda Uzunlar ’23, the goal of the event is to create “one beautiful thing that kind of flows one into the other a little bit, more like a mural.”

The final element of the Class Day ceremony will be the singing of the traditional Yale song “Bright College Years.”

William Porayouw covered Woodbridge Hall for the News and previously reported on international strategy at Yale. Originally from Redlands, California, he is an economics and global affairs major in Davenport College.