New colleges to help reduce overcrowding

Ehrenberg-CollegeConstruction-1
Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

When the new residential colleges open three years from now, fewer Yale students will be annexed from their residential college housing.

Administrators confirmed last week that the new residential colleges will have 904 beds rather than the 850 originally planned. But Provost Benjamin Polak said Yale’s undergraduate population will increase by fewer than 904 students, allowing Yale to allocate fewer students toward residential colleges whose populations currently exceed their physical capacity. Administrators said the new colleges will give the University some breathing room to deal with overcrowding in Yale’s housing system and reduce the number of students annexed outside their college.

Still, administrators have not yet determined exactly how extensive the reductions in the size of the populations of the current 12 residential colleges will be.

In 2008, there was only room for between 78 and 84 percent of Yale College students to live on campus in the freshmen dorms on Old Campus and the residential colleges, according to a report from that year compiled by a committee planning for the construction of the new colleges.

“If students are annexed from their residential colleges to parts of the campus remote from it, or if they are driven off campus by overcrowding, one important piece of the larger educational panorama in which the College places great store is displaced,” the report said.

University President Peter Salovey said one of the goals of the new colleges is to ensure that more students can take full advantage of Yale’s residential college system.

Originally, the freshmen in the new colleges were going to live in Swing Space during their first year while the construction was being completed, Polak said. But the planning committee has since decided that the freshmen will move directly into the new colleges.

Calhoun Master Jonathan Holloway said this situation is preferable because freshmen will have access to their own dining halls and other essential elements of the traditional residential college experience.

Though administrators said they consider annexing a high proportion of a college’s students a sub-optimal solution to the problem of overcrowding, some students interviewed said their experiences at Yale are primarily determined by the ability to live with their friends, not the physical location of their housing.

Still, students interviewed agreed that overcrowding is a significant issue in the current colleges.

According to Zachary Blickensderfer ’16, who is one of the housing representatives for Jonathan Edwards, approximately 60 percent of the college’s juniors will be annexed to rooms on Old Campus next year.

Otis Blum ’15, who serves on the Berkeley Housing Committee, echoed Blickensderfer, adding that there are more members of Berkeley than there are rooms to house them within the college.

“It’s annoying and the cause of a lot of unnecessary stress,” Berkeley student Bria Godley ’16 said of the high proportion of students in her college who are annexed.

Godley added that she does not see peers who live in Berkeley’s annex, Swing Space, nearly as frequently as she sees those who live in the college proper.

Approximately 150 students live in Swing Space, 50 of whom are annexed from Berkeley, according to Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions Bowen Posner, who is a fellow in Swing Space. Morse, Ezra Stiles and Calhoun each have approximately 30 students living in the building.

According to the 2008 report, overcrowding was first identified as a major concern for Yale College in 1928, when the University set strict annual limits on freshman enrollment for the first time.

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