Letter from Head Clark

February 5, 2021

Dear All,

I write because, after all of you received a notice about our empty rooms in Trumbull remaining empty and being locked, concerns arose about facilities people entering your suites thereby breaking Quarantine and Pod regulations.  I also write just to convey some information about why these rooms are off limits and about keeping us all safe. 

It was responsible and good of many of you to have flagged this issue.  In response, I assure you all that no one from outside your pods will enter your suites. Your safety and that of our facilities, main office staffs and dining staffs come first.  We are going to take no chances in terms of spreading CoVID.

At the same time, it is the case that empty rooms are, indeed, off limits and that this is a decision that has been made for all of Yale College.  For those empty rooms within your suites, I must rely on you to follow that rule.

As your Head, I’m charged with protecting your safety.  I take that seriously.  In connection with that responsibility, I’d like to tell you why this rule is in place.

So why is this rule in place?   Why not just use space that is available? It is primarily for safety.  The college was “de-densified” for safety reasons (and at a clear cost to our first-years this semester and our sophomores last semester). 

Only one student may be in a room.  The empty spaces are there to distance people and limit numbers of people sharing bathrooms.

We also need to know where our students are in case of emergencies.

Finally, whereas safety always comes first, there are also issues of equity in space use and, as the facilities notice flagged, of knowing who is responsible for the condition of which spaces.

Beyond this I’d like to tell you (while maintaining confidentiality) about some of the problems we (and other colleges) faced last semester.  I want you all to know these things and, most importantly, avoid these issues this semester.

First, we did have some unauthorized gatherings that occurred in spaces that were supposed to be empty last semester. These gatherings did cross-cut pods and were in violation of the compact.  These were reported to me by many (concerned) students and by a PHC.  Having been notified of gatherings, I went to the spaces myself and, indeed, they were occurring (in one case) and there were decorations and liquor bottles strewn all about in supposedly empty rooms (in another case.)   

Of course, students want to get together; I do too.  I hate this pandemic. I hate that it’s taken much of college life away from you.  Yet we really do have to follow the compact for everyone’s safety. 

Second, we had a case of a student completely changing a room (to a different entryway and space) last semester without letting us know. There may have been other cases too of which I am unaware. 

As people are isolated and others are quarantined, there are, quite naturally, students nearby who are very worried. I understand and share your fears.  But we need to keep our empty spaces empty.  Also, for safety reasons and for reasons getting in touch with individual students if there is an emergency we really need to know where people are in the college.  It is not okay to just relocate yourselves (or invite someone who is worried to move into your suite or into a nearby space).    

If you are fearful, you are not alone.  Please do get in touch with me and/or our Dean if this is the case for you.  We care about both your physical and mental health. 

Of course, you can get in touch with me any time for other reasons as well. 

I hope your classes are going well.  I hope life in your suites and rooms is going well.  If you have ideas regarding what I can do to support you generally, let me know.

The Yale Alumni group gave us blue scarfs to hand out to our students.  You will see them on the table in our Common Room after you exit the dining hall following dinner.  Help yourself to a scarf if you want one.   (If you are off campus or remote, and want one – they are blue with Yale Alumni embroidered on them – just let me know and send me your address.)  (Put:  “Want scarf” in your email to me as a header.  Then put your current address in the body of the email.)

This is a very strange time. I wish to document life in Trumbull now (for the future).  If you like to write or have pictures that can help document this time (and for which we can secure permission to use them and those in them) or if you are an artist who is documenting this time in some way and wish to be involved, please let me know.  I intend to put a book together on this; the more of you who are involved, the better.  I’m going to include our facilities and dining staffs as well.  Note that this effort will also include the experience of studying remotely or taking time off as well and issues relating to athletes not being able to compete and dancers, singers, and theatre people not being able to perform.  Let me hear from you.

Stay safe.  Stay in touch. 

Head Clark