Pioneers for the new colleges
Transfer students will help shape Franklin and Murray Colleges.
Mark Zurolo ’01MFA
Murray and Franklin Colleges, now under construction, will house about 900 students. View full image
Pauli Murray College and Benjamin Franklin College are currently fenced off, covered in scaffolding, and dotted with Porta-Potties and dumpsters, with opening scheduled for the fall. By January, however, perhaps their most important feature will be decided: the students who will become some of the first residents of Yale’s 13th and 14th residential colleges.
About 125 freshmen in next year’s Class of 2021 will be assigned to each new college; the other residents will be sophomores, juniors, and seniors who volunteer to transfer from existing colleges. This fall, the university set up a transfer process that allows students to sign up singly or in groups. Lotteries in December were set up to determine which room configuration each group receives, and in January students will learn which of the two colleges they’ll call home next fall.
At information sessions in the fall, students peppered Tina Lu and Charles Bailyn ’81—the new heads of Murray and Franklin, respectively—about room sizes, dining hall hours, and the transfer process. The questions were largely practical. But the possibility of transferring also offers an opportunity to shape the culture and traditions of Yale’s first new colleges since Morse and Stiles opened in 1962.*
“You’re at this institution that is over 300 years old,” says Lu, a professor of Chinese literature and chair of the department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. “There are very, very few chances to be a pioneer at anything.”
Juliette Neil ’20, a freshman in Timothy Dwight, is planning to transfer with three other women who are currently in TD and Trumbull. To Neil, the trappings of residential college spirit, like chants and rivalries, sometimes seem bizarre. In a new college, she says, she could see how they get started. “I’m excited to see how communities are built at Yale and what people want to do with the new colleges,” says Neil.
Others worry about being farther from the heart of campus or adjusting to new facilities. Or they’re simply attached to their current colleges. Brian Kitano ’19, a sophomore in Branford, was interested in transferring because the new colleges are close to his computer science classes. But Kitano has struggled to find a group of people to transfer with him; he says that many students find the prospect of leaving their residential college “scary.”
Together, the colleges can house 650 students plus the new freshmen, but Bailyn and Lu don’t expect to fill all the beds next year. In the first lottery, 474 students won rooms; another 81 didn’t get the room configurations they wanted but could enter a second lottery. After students receive their college assignments in January, Bailyn and Lu will host meetings and a retreat for the new transfers, including conversations about establishing the colleges’ culture. “It’s not me who will create the new events and traditions,” says Bailyn, a professor of astronomy. “It is the students.”
* Editor’s note: In the print edition of this article, we erroneously reported that Morse and Stiles opened in 1961.