Yale will not host Harvard College students during this year’s Harvard-Yale football game due to coronavirus-related restrictions, recommending students arrive and leave the day of the Game, the Harvard Dean of Students Office wrote in an email Friday.
Last year, the schools cancelled the highly-anticipated football game for the first time since 1943, when Harvard suspended its football program during World War II. In lieu of the 2020 game, the universities held a virtual spirit week. The Game will return to Yale this year on Nov. 20, though with several restrictions on housing and transportation.
Breaking with previous years, Yale will not host Harvard students in the college’s dorms in New Haven, according to the email from DSO. In previous years, Harvard upperclassmen houses and freshmen dorms paired with Yale’s residential colleges to allow students to stay in common rooms on a first-come, first-serve sign-up basis.
The DSO wrote that it “strongly encourage[s]” students to arrive and leave on Saturday. Usually, many undergraduates choose to stay overnight at the host school the night before to party — whether at Harvard’s final clubs or New Haven’s nightclub Toad’s Place.
Harvard will provide shuttle buses that leave Cambridge on Saturday morning and return that same evening. There will be a “significantly smaller” number of shuttle bus seats available than game tickets, the DSO wrote, due to a “bus driver shortage.”
Students who want to stay the night will need to make arrangements for their own transportation and housing, turning to pricey alternatives like Airbnbs or hotel rooms. As a result, some students said the restrictions will disproportionately impact low-income students.
Abigail A. Golden ’24 said she has heard some students are planning to rent Airbnbs. That option, though, is “not feasible for a lot of people.”
“I just think it really stinks, and also it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Golden said, referring to the housing restrictions. “Our cases are pretty low, and I’m not sure how well that reflects [Yale’s] numbers, but they seem to be fine.”
Regardless of the restrictions, Will S. Hahn ’25 said he believes the Game has always privileged students who have networks at elite universities like Yale.
“You have so much more of a reason to go if you do know somebody who’s at Yale,” Hahn said. “If you don’t, it’s just a lot less fun.”
In an email, Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane noted that shuttle tickets are accessible through the College’s Student Events Fund. The fund aims to remove financial barriers that would limit students’ participation in campus events.
Byron S. Gonzalez ’25 said he believes freshmen and sophomores are also at a “disadvantage” because they do not know what to expect.
“I’m still kind of clueless with what’s going to happen,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully they send more information.”
Some students said they have made alternative housing and transportation arrangements.
Jaya J. Nayar ’24 said she will stay at a friend’s off-campus apartment. If she cannot secure a seat on Harvard’s shuttle, Nayar said she will look into taking the train or renting a Zipcar.
“There are other ways to get around it, hopefully, but I definitely want to go,” she said.
Liana L. Owen ’22 said she never intended to stay overnight in New Haven. The reduced shuttle capacity, however, complicates her plans.
“If I can’t get the shuttle, I’ll probably just consider doing something else that weekend.”
Despite the Covid-19 restrictions, some freshmen and sophomores said they are excited to experience the festivities for the first time.
“A bit of a bummer, but I think it’ll still be fun,” said Shilpa Gunuganti ’24, who said she remains undecided about her Harvard-Yale plans.
—Staff writer Christine Mui can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MuiChristine.
—Staff writer Leah J. Teichholtz can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LeahTeichholtz.