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Yale 62

First Week of Yale Opening Goes Well, But Covid19 Risk Remains on Everyone’s Mind

By Al Chambers and Lee Bolman

Yale College’s carefully planned opening for First Years, Juniors and Seniors, with Sophomores participating only virtually from their homes, went well. The class of 2024 admitted 2,304 versus our 1,005 in 1958.

The annual Welcoming Assembly, for what used to be called Freshmen, went well but was produced… this year as a recorded video instead of a live event in Woolsey Hall. The Yale Glee Club and various singing groups were pre-recorded, as well as the top Yale Administrators.

President Salovey’s remarks, filmed in Sterling Library, not surprisingly were more serious in tone than in recent years. He said, “The enemies of compassion and cooperation are fear and anger. Now, I’m not saying that it is inappropriate to experience the fear caused by a pandemic … and I’m not saying that one shouldn’t feel anger, indeed, outrage, at the killing of George Floyd. But although such fear and anger can be motivated, I must ensure that they do not prevent my finding common ground with well-meaning others whose approaches to social challenges are not the same as mine.” Salovey’s 2019 theme was “Curiosity and Asking Questions.”

(For those of you who missed Lee Bolman’s assessment of Yale’s planning and risks last week, as well as our other articles on the subject, or would like to read them again, please click here.)

Yale’s communications throughout the first week to students and the university community, as well as the public, displayed careful planning and willingness to offer daily statistics. Students were tested for Covid19 every two days. There were fewer than a dozen positives and just one confirmed case. That student was isolated in a pre-planned facility and contact tracing was immediately established.

The Yale Daily News provided updates and reporting, which were picked up by media in the area and around the country. It was a week when several other prominent private and public universities were required to scale back or even close down and send students home.

Students interviewed by the News said they were impressed by the effort and Yale’s confidence in its plan. At the same time, there was broad student awareness and understanding that careful monitoring and following the guidelines was necessary. A student op-ed in the News probably represented the views of students, both those in New Haven, those who chose to do only virtual and the about 15% who opted total a gap year. Sophomores are scheduled to come to New Haven in the second semester with the First Years continuing from home so that Yale can achieve the number it needed to assure sufficient social distancing. The Yale Daily announced that it would be printing only one day a week and providing the rest of its coverage only on line, “given the economic impact on our organization and public health realities.”

At least one arriving member of the Class of 2024 is the grandchild of a ’62 classmate. We are attempting to establish contact and also welcome hearing from any of you who also have a grandchild attending Yale College this year. Thank you.

We welcome your comments below.

4 comments to First Week Yale

  • Neal Freeman

    Thanks, Al and Lee, for this hopeful report. I have one of my own. As of today, Victor Ashe ’67 has received support from almost 5,000 Yale alumni, far in excess of the 4,394 signatures needed to qualify for the Yale Corporation ballot. What this means is that, for the first time in 18 years, there will be a contested election next May for a Corporation board vacancy. Sunlight as disinfectant. A green shoot. The competition of ideas. Democracy as the best form of government save for all the others. Call it whatever you like, this news is cause for celebration. Neal Freeman

  • Roman Weil

    Victor Ashe got my signature a couple of weeks ago, before he went over the top. Another candidate, Maggie Thomas, still seeks enough to make it to the finals. I’ve just learned that alums like us can support them both and I’ve done so.

    Here’s a story in the Yale Daily News about Ashe’s progress and the history of the attempts by renegade alums to get on the Official Ballot.

    If Ashe and Thomas both make it to the final ballot in Spring 2021, there will be some behind-the-scenes skirmishing to see if one of them will withdraw so as to increase the chances that the other will beat the official Yale nominee[s].

    If you follow the goings on, you will know that Yale has historically forbidden its candidates to answer questions about their platforms and policies. The rump candidates like Ashe and Thomas are free to say what they think. This should all be interesting.

    Neal Freeman correctly, in my opinion, celebrates progress.

  • William Stork

    Lee and Al’s article is most interesting, and I am in current correspondence with Roman Weil about the recent news that almost 350 acceptances have deferred September matriculation, now taking ‘gap year’ status. This leaves only 1,267 to attend, 21% smaller than its original size. Al and Lee report the number admitted to have been 2,304.

    But what also captured my attention was that PHOTO!

    There, above a Yale archway, is a splendid representation of Yale’s coat-of-arms!

    Happily, I would now love to offer a ‘’ mug, one with a shield-choice determined by, and to go to, the First Winner! Here is the CHALLENGE:

    “Can any one of our classmates identify WHERE that photo was taken and also give two other New Haven locations where the Yale coat-of-arms also might be found displayed on a Yale building!”

    Please send your Challenge Response to the official judge, giving name/location of the three Yale buildings:

  • Al Chambers

    Thanks, Bill, as always for your participation and enthusiasm. It also is always good to learn that ‘62 classmates are communicating with each other directly, as well as on the website.

    Your point on the numbers is well taken. When the piece above was posted,, we had not seen the numbers from the recent Yale Today announcement. We also probably should not have used the 1,005 number, which was the number of young men who matriculated with us in 1958, but the intent was to provide a comparison.

    To set the Class of 2024 numbers in perspective, in what is a year like no other because of the Pandemic, Yale admitted 2,304 students in March, expecting that the starting class would be somewhere a bit above 1,550. Covid19 was known but had only started to be identified in the United States. The most recently reported total for 2024 is 1,267, but in addition, there are an extraordinarily high number of about 350 students who accepted but deferred attending. Had they all started the 2020-2021 academic year, which never would have happened, the Class of 2024 would have been higher than anticipated.

    The young people in the Class of 2024 already realize that their undergraduate experience is certain to provide a special record of achievement and challenge for Yale and themselves. Remember, that these first years will be leaving New Haven after a semester to continue their studies virtually as the Class of 2023 sophomores return to resume their adjusted campus life. That was part of how Yale developed its guidelines for social distancing and study planning. Some small number of the 2024 class no doubt will choose to “gap” for the second semester, so Yale again will need to work with new situations.

    The first two weeks in New Haven have been extremely encouraging for safety and activity, but every single person involved no doubt will have stories to tell and lifelong memories.