Tag Archive: Expansion

  1. “Imagine Schwarzman”

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    The basement of Commons extends below the entirety of the building, but it lacks the first floor’s old-school grandeur and charm. Instead, the walls are made of concrete and cinderblock; white hallways tunnel through the space and wire mesh blocks off utility and storage rooms. Somewhere in the basement a machine emits a high-pitched drone that seems to get louder from room to room, and one woman on the tour that I’m on puts a hand to her ear to block out the noise.

    Daniel Flynn, director of hospitality and maintenance for Yale Dining, who has worked at Commons for many years, asks the group of around 10 to “reimagine” the space. In 2020, after five years of planning, design and renovation, he explains, this space will be repurposed as part of the Schwarzman Center. As the PowerPoint at the current open house illustrates, the basement will be flooded with natural light and transformed into a place “where [students] can meet, socialize, eat, and/or make things.” Most of the people there were seeing the basement for the first time. They had to work hard to reimagine the fluorescent-lit “maze” as the projected palace of natural light.

    Imagine All the People

    Of course, the Schwarzman Center is not news to anyone at this point. When President Peter Salovey announced in May that Steven Schwarzman ’69, founder and CEO of Blackstone Group, was giving a historic gift of $150 million to renovate Commons and create a new student center, News, alumni publications and even the New York Times hastened to cover the story. The picture of the blue Commons sign being replaced with one that reads “Schwarzman Center” received 344 likes on “Overheard at Yale.” Rumpus published an article rife with creative misspellings of Schwarzman’s name, such as “$chwarzman,” “Schwarzwoman,” and “Schwarzmaneater.” On Wednesday, unidentified Yale students played a practical joke by covering up campus building signs with blue Schwarzman stickers (e.g. “Schwarzman Chapel,” “School of Schwarzman and Schwarzmanmental Studies”). It’s safe to say that Schwarzman, name and donation, has entered Yale’s collective conscious.

    What most students lack is concrete knowledge about the project. Migs Grabar Sage ’19 said that, like many freshmen, she knew about Commons but nothing about the donation until very recently. Even some upperclassmen are unfamiliar with the details. When asked about the Schwarzman Center, Jillian Kravatz ’17 said, “I know very little.”

    “Only what exists in my imagination,” added Zachary Schlesinger ’17.

    Schlesinger was making a play on the “Imagine Schwarzman” campaign that launched last week. But the campaign is in fact a large component of the planning process. Members of the Schwarzman Center Advisory Committee, which includes administrators such as Special Counsel to the President Linda Lorimer and Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, undergraduate student leaders like Yale College Council President Joe English ’17, and representatives from the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, have embarked on a “listening tour” that will last through September and October. The listening tour started with open houses in Commons and the Rotunda, and continues with information sessions in all the residential colleges and graduate and professional schools.

    Assistant Secretary at the Office for Student Life Erin Johnson ’08 conducts one of these “listening sessions” in the Jonathan Edwards common room on a Sunday evening. She presents a thick pamphlet of glossy artistic renderings depicting the future Schwarzman Center: performances by student groups and star-studded events featuring the likes of David McCullough ’55, Sonia Sotomayor LAW ’79 and other famous Yale alumni.

    At each event, Yale staff or members of the advisory committee explain non-negotiable elements of the renovation — the basement, dining hall and upstairs rooms will undergo extensive alterations, while Memorial Hall, which honors Yale’s soldiers, will be “preserved and enhanced.” Committee members are careful to stress that lunch service in Commons, a concern of many students, will continue.

    But a lot is still up in the air. Johnson said listening tours are meant “to collect ideas from the community that the advisory committee can use to give advice to President Salovey.” The “Imagine Schwarzman” PowerPoint asks viewers to “imagine” Commons as a performance space, the upper-floor hallway as a student art gallery and the basement as a billiard room or pub. Johnson suggested the potential for various new student events in the center, such as birthday parties for all graduate and undergraduate students born in any given month. Right now the Schwarzman Center is something of a blank slate.

    Still, representatives say that all of these ideas are subject to student and community opinion. Attendees of listening sessions are asked to fill out a questionnaire that asks them what they would like to be included in the center, and what should be avoided. Ultimately, these thoughts will be compiled into a report to be presented to Salovey by Thanksgiving, which he and those who have the final say in the planning will consult in drafting final plans.

    Members of the Advisory Committee say the response to outreach so far has been positive and encouraging. Johnson said that, because the Schwarzman Center is “a space that people know well,” most people can provide constructive responses when asked for ideas. Lorimer said it has been “extremely exciting to hear dynamic ideas from student groups.” Tyler Godoff SOM ’16, a member of the Advisory Committee, said he received a lot of input while sitting outside the JE dining hall. He added that his girlfriend, who went to Emory, said “not nearly as many people would have cared” enough at her alma mater to give their opinions about such a project, and that the level of interest is impressive considering that all current Yale students will have graduated by the time it’s completed.

    What’s on the Program?

    In his donation, Schwarzman provided a significant budget for “a small dedicated staff” to coordinate activities and programming within the student center. What exactly the programming will be, and how it will differ from what is currently offered, is still undecided. The “Imagine Schwarzman” PowerPoint envisions a “virtual lunch” with Sotomayor, who last spoke in Woolsey Hall in 2014. Notable guests who give Master’s Teas could make second appearances for a large audience in the Schwarzman Center. “Foodie events,” perhaps modeled on last year’s Final Cut competition, could take place in Commons dining hall. Although administrators and members of the Advisory Committee cited these examples, they said that programming decisions are pending input and ideas from the Yale community.

    Berkeley College Master Marvin Chun is the only college master serving on the Advisory Committee, and while he says he doesn’t officially speak for the Council of Masters, he represents the masters’ perspective. When asked if the Schwarzman Center will be able to provide truly innovative programming, he said, “If it’s not more than we have, we haven’t fulfilled our potential.” However, Chun also stressed that the Schwarzman Center will provide space for established activities the residential colleges can no longer accommodate.

    The Center could serve members of the New Haven community, such as high school performing groups or visitors who need to “grab a cup of coffee,” in a way that no building at Yale currently can. While athletic facilities are already open to the New Haven community, Chun said there is “a whole cultural world out there we aren’t able to serve in the same way,” because Yale doesn’t have a cultural center comparable to its athletic facilities.

    “As someone who’s a parent in New Haven, I would love for my kids to be able to come here,” he said.

    At a meeting between the Advisory Committee and the Yale dance community, Eliza Dach ’17 said attendees discussed the necessity of more spaces where dancers can practice. Dancers “see and care how the space could change the future of the groups they are in now,” she said. She added that space is always a pressing need because “there are so many dance groups vying for the few spaces we have.”

    Even if they can’t say exactly what kind of novel programming the Schwarzman Center will offer, those planning its creation are adamant about the necessity of new common student spaces, and the potential of the Schwarzman Center to provide them.

    Currently, many student organizations meet in residential college spaces, such as Yogis at Yale, who meet in the Berkeley basement, or the various performing groups that use the Saybrook Underbrook or the Morse Crescent. However, these spaces are no longer sufficient to house student activities.

    “Residential colleges are used to the maximum and we still don’t have enough spaces,” said Branford Master Elizabeth Bradley. Chun concurred that some kind of centralized space will benefit student groups that are not tied to a particular college, or that include both graduate and undergraduate students. “People congregate to space,” he said. “Open space will break down boundaries” between colleges or schools.

    The Schwarzman Center won’t just give undergraduates space — many feel that it will bring together students from Yale College and the graduate and professional schools in a new way. “I think one of the biggest impacts will be having a place where it’s not just grad students,” said Elizabeth Salm GRD ’18. In most places at Yale, “You see only grad students in your department.”

    Events at the Schwarzman Center will be open to all University students, unlike some University spaces, and students who belong to different schools will be able to come together in a common space that belongs to everyone.

    “All students will feel welcome,” said Lauren Tilton GRD ’16, who is also a member of the Advisory Committee.

    Tragedy of the Commons?

    But not all students are welcoming the arrival of the Schwarzman Center.

    Fifteen of 16 students interviewed did not think the Schwarzman Center was necessary, and 13 said that the money could be better spent on financial aid or research, two areas which students often feel are underfunded.

    Hannah Schmitt ’18 said she was skeptical of the fact that Schwarzman donated money for infrastructure to a university that already has state-of-the-art facilities.

    “There’s a universe of better things you could do with that money,” she said, noting that it might be better spent on initiatives that help underprivileged or minority students at Yale.

    Another qualm voiced by some students concerns Blackstone Group’s business practices following the housing crisis. In 2013, Blackstone, an asset management group, purchased about 50,000 foreclosed homes. After renovating the houses, they rented them out, and are currently expanding their role as a commercial landlord. An Occupy.com article on the subject, which accused Blackstone of “capitalizing on the housing crisis” surfaced on “Overheard at Yale” in May and sparked a lively discussion, during which students both criticized and defended Blackstone’s actions.

    However, Christine Anderson, the managing director of Blackstone Group’s public affairs arm, said that, while certainly profitable to Blackstone, the decision to buy the houses, which were “sitting around vacant, falling into disrepair,” has actually helped many communities. She drew attention to Blackstone’s hiring of 10,000 local contractors to renovate the homes, which has helped to raise property values in their communities.

    “[It’s] great for these local communities,” she said.

    Tyler Blackmon ’16, a staff columnist for the News, said the project shows that Salovey is cultivating “a legacy of expanding Yale physically,” through the two new residential colleges as well as the Schwarzman Center, rather than expanding access to Yale. Yale tuition has risen since Salovey took the reins.

    “It’s on Yale,” Blackmon said, “because Yale isn’t soliciting [large donations] for financial aid.” He notes that Access Yale, Yale’s financial aid initiative, is less publicized than enormous gifts such as those of Schwarzman and Charles Johnson ’54 to build the two new residential colleges.

    Administrators say that Schwarzman and Yale are still committed to serving a diverse population of students. Christine Anderson of Blackstone Group said that Schwarzman sees the student center as a “transformative” project that will “help a huge population of students for decades to come.” Lorimer added that Schwarzman also contributes significantly to scholarship initiatives, including a $40 million gift to the Catholic Diocese of New York’s Inner City Scholarship Fund, announced on Tuesday.

    Administrators pointed out that although the Schwarzman Center is an infrastructure project, it will promote educational initiatives, just as funds dedicated to scholarships .

    “It’s hard to imagine that the Schwarzman Center won’t have vibrant educational, intellectual and cultural programming,” said Lorimer.

    Making the Grad(e)

    The Hall of Graduate Studies is in use almost every part of the day. Classes meet there daily, the dining hall serves lunch and dinner and the Blue Dog Café is usually occupied by coffee-drinkers tackling papers. Perhaps most significant and least evident to undergraduate students, the McDougal Center for Student Life is located there, and 168 graduate students live in the building.

    However, all this is slated to change in the next few years. In January, Provost Ben Polak announced plans to renovate HGS, and beginning in 2017 significant changes will be made to the building, which is the closest thing graduate students have to a student center. The students currently living in the building will be relocated to a dormitory that will be built in what is currently a parking lot on Elm Street, as well as to apartments in Swing Space. The McDougal Center and its associated functions will also be relocated, but its new location has not yet been announced.

    Graduate and professional students have experienced a number of unfulfilled needs which undergraduates tend to take for granted. For example, HGS does not serve meals on weekends, which means that in order to use their meal plans, the graduate students living there — who do not have swipe access to the residential colleges — have to wait outside the gates of a residential college for an undergraduate to go in and then enter with them, a process many have said is tedious and frustrating. Students at the medical school who live on campus face similar predicaments come the weekend.

    Graduate students also lack round-the-clock access to libraries and study spaces that undergraduates have in residential colleges. Tilton pointed out that humanities graduate students studying at Sterling Memorial Library have to leave earlier than law students at the Law School Library. GPSS President Elizabeth Mo GRD ’18 added that at the law school, student groups often have to book study rooms months in advance, and that the Schwarzman Center will do much to alleviate the need for space. The combined population of the various graduate and professional schools is far larger than that of the undergraduate student body, yet they lack access to many of the on-campus resources that undergraduates enjoy.

    “I think one of the things we tried to highlight was that there’s different access to different spaces at different times of day for the different schools,” Tilton said. She thinks this problem could be solved by one student center providing shared space with a common schedule for all schools.

    To that end, in 2013, the YCC, GSA and GPSS joined together to create a report advocating for the creation of a student center. The report, presented in 2014, recognized the need to create a space where students could “meet, learn, eat and congregate,” and compiled a list of similar universities that already had student centers. The ad hoc committee formed to create the report was the first group that combined student leaders from the three assemblies.

    Graduate students say that opinions about the Schwarzman Center are both informed and complicated by the upcoming renovations to HGS. While they hope to gain much from a new student center, some are “alarmed” that discussion of the Schwarzman Center is a distraction from concerns about where the McDougal Center will be and what exactly the housing options will be for graduate students after 2017.

    “With all the focus on the Schwarzman Center, there’s less talk about what’s going on with HGS,” said Salm. Even with a student center, a graduate-specific space is still crucial to many. Amanda Lerner GRD ’18 compared concern about the changes to HGS to the feeling that undergraduates might have if a residential college were taken away. “[I’m] very eager to learn exactly what will happen with the location of the McDougal Center, [and to] know where our one dedicated space is going to be,” she said.

    “It’s not a viable option to maintain HGS” as is, Salm added. “We just want to know we’re being heard.” That’s why, said Mo, “it’s important to get this planning phase perfect” and to acquire ideas and feedback from all of the graduate and professional schools. Mo feels that concerns about graduate-specific needs, such as weekend dining at the Schwarzman Center, are being received well by other members of the committee and the administration.

    “I get excited about having a place that’s a central convening spot,” said Godoff. Most graduate students seem to agree.

    How the Cookie Crumbles

    Daisy Massey ’19 stopped by a table outside the JE dining hall where members of the Schwarzman Center Advisory Committee were soliciting student opinion. “I just wanted a free cookie,” she said, but the food offerings drew her in. Massey filled out a questionnaire and left with several “Imagine Schwarzman” stickers. Her opinions, and those of the other students, will influence the course of a project that as yet only exists in artistic renderings, and will only be fully realized once she, and all current students, have left Yale. Most student groups try to rope people in with Insomnia cookies every so often, but this might prove the most influential batch yet.

  2. Marching into the Unnamed

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    A little over 50 years ago, Yale underwent a massive change. Two residential colleges were added to the 10 already in place, two colleges whose unremittingly modern architecture was a testament to their newness, and whose names — Morse and Ezra Stiles — felt woolly and unfamiliar in the mouths of their freshly minted undergraduates. To mark the occasion, a time capsule was created and filled with twenty student essays, local and regional newspapers and several copies of Yale publications. The capsule was enclosed in a stone that became a bedrock of the new colleges. It was laid during a ceremony on Alumni Day in 1961, with much pomp and pride; only the colleges’ total demolition would be sufficient to coax the time capsule back into the open air. One YDN columnist, aware that he was writing for posterity, observed, “We’re hoping to do or say something that will be remembered 300 years hence.”

    We find ourselves at a comparable moment in Yale’s history. The 12 colleges housing the undergraduate student body are to be expanded t o14, with two more slated to open in August 2017. They have yet to be named. They have yet to be crested. They have yet to be given masters, deans or dining staff.  But they have been assigned a space — a scrubby no man’s land between a cemetery and a hospital, whose apparent insignificance seems to pose a haughty challenge to the notion that anything, ever, could be built there. But the donors have been petitioned, the architects consulted; the show is officially on the road. Expansion really is going to happen.

    ***

    Of course, the addition of two new colleges will change Yale. Yet it is a curious mark of institutional life that even the slightest alterations to the “system” are often met with anxiety by those cozily closeted on the inside — students can be unexpectedly conservative.

    As plans for the Beinecke neared completion in 1961, for example, the library was condemned as a “decorated box” by a history of art professor. Six undergraduates, one graduate student and one history of art instructor wrote in an open letter to the YDN that the library would stand as “a white elephant to be ridiculed by succeeding generations,” a repository for dead leaves, hand-tossed refuse and a simmering sense of resentment.

    Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the Beinecke is the favorite landmark of many Yalies, an obligatory but agreeable stop on the Grand Tour. You present the library to your parent/friend/grandmother, freestyle for a couple of minutes on the fragility of its marble panels, the Tolkeinesque beauty of its innards, and then move on to visit Sterling, a gooey feeling of pride in your gut. The “decorated box” is not resented decades after its construction: It is loved.

    Still, in many ways, the addition of two new colleges will be a more significant change to the University than an architecturally radical library. After all, once you’ve built your library and rammed it with books, you can — to an extent — rest on your laurels, much of the marathon completed. New colleges, on the other hand, are another matter entirely. You have to fill them with people, not books — undergraduates who arrive and leave in yearly cycles, who have sweated their way into the University and who are hungry for their slice of the Yale pie.

    For Maria Cortez, who just submitted her application to Yale, potentially being placed in the new colleges would not diminish her undergraduate experience.

    “I think that students will still feel part of the community no matter what,” Cortez said. “The residential college system itself brings [students] together, so there wouldn’t be feelings of isolation because, from what I know at least, the residential colleges are small communities within the University itself.”

    Of the five prospective students interviewed, none were aware of the planned expansion. All five added that they would have no concerns for their social lives if placed into one of the new colleges.

    For Julia Kharzeev, another aspiring Yalie, students placed in the new colleges — particularly underclassmen — would bear the responsibility of socializing outside their collegiate community.

    “I think it really depends on whether [the students] integrate themselves well on campus in other ways,” Kharzeev said. “It would be awesome to be in these new residential colleges.”

    When they finally arrive in 2017, the undergrads at the new colleges will want intimate classes and seminars just as much as we do. They too will expect unhampered access to Yale’s music, drama and gym facilities. And they will want to participate, like the members of the older colleges, in the intramural sports league, amongst lots of other student pastimes.

    The two new colleges will grow Yale’s undergraduate community by 15 percent. The student body will thus come to a total of 6,200, an increase of 800 undergrads in all. Of course, the newbies will bring dough to the table – their fees will fill Yale coffers with a net revenue of approximately $30 million per year. According to the University administration, much of that money is expected to help staff and infrastructure to deal with the extra people.

    The Yale Corporation made the original decision to expand back in 2008, disregarding the weighty evidence suggesting that students were opposed to the idea. (In a 2008 survey sent out by the News, of the 362 students polled, only 25 percent favored expansion.) Adding more space for qualified undergraduates was a leading factor in the Corporation’s choice — in 1999, Yale College accepted over 20 percent of applicants; now, it admits something closer to six percent. Every year seems to present record numbers of applicants, and it was felt that Yale would best serve its educational mission by getting bigger.

    But the recession hit, shelving the development plans until Yale’s economic future looked rosier. The past few years have looked up, with the Yale Division of Finance reporting a surplus of $51 million this year. Now, there are enough pennies in the piggybank to give expansion another shot.

    ***

    For many, enlargement is a cause for skepticism and gloom, not celebration. Some students worry that it might be easier to get into Yale — but perhaps the facts should be allowed to stand on their own. Yale College received a record 29,790 applicants for the class of 2017, of which only about 2,000 were accepted.  The notion that increasing this number by 800 each year will lower academic standards doesn’t quite compute, said Eleanor Marshall ’17.

    “I find that argument pretty offensive,” Marshall said. “I think it’s pretty elitist and I’m pretty disappointed to have heard people complaining about it.”

    Peter Wang ’18 agreed, cautioning that an obsession with the number “800” undermines the fact that many candidates Yale rejects are undoubtedly qualified.

    “Letting more students into Yale doesn’t mean that if you set the number larger, you set the standard lower,” Wang said.

    In addition to fears of a less gifted student body, many have voiced the concern that the new colleges will be ‘ghettoized’ due to their location by Science Hill — or peopled entirely by sports-mad economists. The plot of land chosen is seen as out of the way, cut off, a gray buffer zone by Ingalls Rink with little commercial activity.

    In a 2007 News article, Michael Pomeranz argued that “the new colleges, up on Science Hill, would create a sub-campus away from most of the undergraduate housing.”

    In response to such criticism, Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway said that campus has changed drastically since the Corporation first proposed expansion. With the addition of the police station, the construction of the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design and the completion of Rosenkranz Hall, foot traffic in the area has increased.

    Some students, too, expect that on-campus social life will move with the opening of the new colleges. They reject Pomeranz’s notion of the “sub-campus” as a little over-dramatic.

    “[Students in the new colleges] will be closer to the students in TD and Silliman,” Kellen Svetov ’16 said. “We may see a shift of the social center.”

    In addition, according to the Yale website “The New Residential Colleges,” the University will create “stepping stones” that connect students to the new neighborhood. These will include an expanded shuttle service and enhanced security. And yet, the freshmen who are parachuted into these colleges will join institutions that have no accrued prestige and no timeworn traditions that they can inherit. Moreover, there is a historical precedent for suspecting that the new colleges will not be respected as much as the older ones, at least initially.

    Ronald Allison ’63 recalled the stigma he faced when he transferred from Silliman into the newly created Morse College in the early ’60s. “You were disrespected for being there,” he said. “Morse had less prestige.”

    In any case, it seems likely that the first wave of Morse and Stiles undergraduates were particularly sensitive to the sting of perceived inter-collegiate snobbery. Eero Saarinen, the Morse and Stiles architect, explained in a 1959 statement that his team’s primary aim had been to create “an architecture which would recognise the individual as individual instead of anonymous integer in a group.” Many who transferred were introverted types who craved the single rooms that the colleges offered, having been uncomfortable in their original colleges.

    Henry Sam Chauncey, an associate dean of Yale College at the time, argues that the two new colleges were strange places to inhabit when they first opened, because most of the volunteers were “unhappy people” — so, “for the first two or three years at least, Morse and Stiles were not the happiest of places.”

    The plans for the newest residential colleges suggest that they, by contrast, will not cater largely to “loners”. Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the mock-ups show an interlocking series of communal spaces, clearly intended to generate a bustling social hub. The firm has opted not to copy the unforgiving gray modernism of Morse and Stiles, but has reverted to the neo-Gothic style so ubiquitous in many of Yale’s older colleges.

    Of the students interviewed, the vast majority agreed that the new colleges look promising. Maia Eliscovich Sigal ’16, YCC vice president, went so far as to call them “very pretty,” noting that she had heard from members of the Morse administration that some undergraduates felt physically oppressed by Saarinen’s design.

    As professor of English and American Studies and Morse College Master Amy Hungerford conceded, “Some students come [to Yale] with a dream of gothic architecture in mind, a stereotype of what an Ivy League college should look like.” Judging by Stern’s mock-ups, the 13th and 14th colleges will certainly fit into romantic visions of Old Yale.

    ***

    But even if the colleges fulfill an aesthetic ideal, the expansion poses problems of overcrowding. Ironically, while Morse and Stiles were opened partly to alleviate the pressure on student housing, the new colleges will in fact do the opposite.

    Though Eliscovich Sigal has faith that the Yale administration will maintain standards as the university bloats, she feels that overcrowding is already a significant problem. “Many econ classes don’t even have TAs,” she said. “It’s unacceptable. You’d think that if they’re bringing in hundreds more students, they’d sort that type of problem out.”

    Still, despite her reservations, Eliscovich Sigal believes that University administrators are hyperaware of the impending problem — “I feel that they genuinely want to sort it out”.

    Holloway has acknowledged these challenges. “We’re considering many different aspects of more students coming into campus,” he said. “Over the next 18 months, we’ll be developing plans to address those kinds of concerns.”

    Without any concrete answers, expansion naysayers are arguably right to worry about overcrowding. And yet, efforts are being made by the University administration to address the issue. In October of last year, University President Peter Salovey convened a committee to investigate out how best to balance the books, to ensure that the costs of supporting the additional students would not exceed the extra $30 million revenue.

    Sections of the Expansion Committee’s report, published this summer, make for potentially worrying reading. The IM league may be split into two separate divisions, for example, to accommodate two extra college teams. In the segment on classroom space, the review found that “the large majority of courses” could enroll 15 percent more students without changing locations. But many undergrads — including Svetov, an econ major who has witnessed the rush to register for Intro to Microeconomics and Macroeconomics — can already attest to the difficulty of finding a seat in many courses.

    Shane Kim ’17 expressed similar concerns about overcrowded classes.

    “If we have the same number of courses being taught, but now with 800 more students thrown into the mix, it will be a crazy time,” he said.

    The report acknowledged that in some large courses, the increase would push course enrollment over the maximum capacity of Yale’s biggest classrooms — but it suggested that individual departments tackle the problem, for instance, by making classes earlier to alleviate pressure points. This has not gone over well with students, some of whom bristle at the thought of getting up early for a class they might have enjoyed at a later time in the morning.

    To Qingyang Chen ’17, earlier classes would “circumvent the problem rather than solve the problem.” While he acknowledged that hiring more faculty would be a challenge, he felt that students should not be discouraged from taking classes they want to take.

    The influx of 800 more undergraduates may also force the administration to curtail Shopping Period, to better anticipate resource allocation needs. Having shopped oversubscribed seminars, Kim hopes that administrators ensure that shopping period does not become more difficult following the student body’s expansion.

    In addition to concerns about the increased number of students, some equally worry about the number of faculty available to teach them.

    They are arguably right to do so, given that the Expansion Committee’s report advised that “some flexibility be accorded with respect to class size limits”, whilst allowing for “a small, targeted increase in funding for non-ladder instruction”. In other words, the University doesn’t plan to increase the number of tenure positions, since they have already made new hires in preparation for the expansion.

    “The faculty is larger than it’s ever been,” Holloway said. “Unfortunately the growth has been separated from the arrival of the students.”

    While the ratio of students to tenured faculty members will inevitably increase in 2017, Holloway said Salovey and Provost Benjamin Polak were “absolutely committed to making sure the quality of teaching doesn’t suffer as the University expands.”

    ***

    Despite these assurances, some students simply feel excluded from the expansion process. After all, the administration never officially asked undergraduates whether they thought introducing two new residential colleges would be a good idea.

    As News columnist Scott Stern ’15 puts it, “The idea that there has been any student involvement at all in the process is kind of a joke.”

    And yet, as Holloway announced on Oct. 29, a new undergraduate task force is expected to convene at the end of this semester to begin advising faculty and staff on plans for the new residential colleges. Officially called the Standing Committee on Yale College Expansion, the committee will include four undergraduates who can apply for a spot through Yale College Council.

    And in February this year, two forums were held with an eye to allowing students to voice their concerns. The first, on the impact of expansion on student life, was moderately well-attended, with approximately thirty students present, alongside Polak and other members of the Faculty Expansion Committee. But only four undergrads showed up to the second forum on the effects of growth on Yale’s academic life.

    So, while some undergraduates feel actively shut out of the conversation, others seem apathetic to the changes — after all, 2017 feels pretty far off; they may not be around when the colleges open.

    This apparent indifference might be due to the inefficacy of the “open forum” itself — as Hungerford points out, “There’s something about calling an open forum that is either only effective when people are highly educated about the issue or [when they] have strong feelings. They’re not always an effective way of consulting people”. There certainly seems to be a marked schism between the noise some students make amongst themselves about expansion, and what they are actually prepared to do about it.

    Perhaps what students tend to lose sight of are the exciting opportunities presented by the expansion plan. The new colleges’ names and crests have captured the imagination of almost all. Nine out of the current twelve are named after slave owners, and every college, except the two named for towns, pays tribute to a white, Christian male.

    One favorite contender is Grace Hopper GRD ’34, one of the University’s most accomplished female graduates in engineering, mathematics and technology. Another popular choice is Edward Bouchet GRD 1876, a first-generation student of color and accomplished scientist. Yung Wing 1854 has also garnered some support, as the first Chinese student to graduate from an American university.

    The opportunity to name these colleges has been hugely exciting, to both students and professors. Hungerford hopes at least one of the names will be that of a person of color or a woman — “I just think it’s time. We’re living in 2014.”

    As to the danger that a college named after a female or a minority graduate will be further stigmatized, Hungerford aptly remarked, “If people worry that the Yale community will ghettoize two colleges named after women and people of color, then we’re in a lot deeper trouble than people think we are.”

    In addition to the opportunities offered by the naming process, the chance to create a college culture ex nihilo has enthused many. As Eliscovich Sigal put it, “There’s an opportunity to be part of something new. That’s exciting.”

    Besides, no one can deny that college identities undergo radical mutations every few years. For News columnist Joshua Clapper ’16, “The most appealing part of the residential college is that it is ever-changing,” he said. “There are traditions in different colleges that stress residential college independence over a broader University identity. But the flavor of this independence varies from year to year.”

    It seems that one of the most vital goals of expansion has been somewhat obscured — which is that by growing so substantially, the Yale experience will be open to more people year on year. If it feels gratifyingly cynical to roll one’s eyes at the planned growth, with its unknown impacts and costs, it takes a little more intellectual integrity to focus on the bigger picture. More people will come to Yale, which will remain the same in some ways, and different in others; more minds from all over the world will be allowed to benefit from the unique Yale experience. That is surely something to celebrate.

  3. For Connecticut, predicted surplus turns into deficit

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    Connecticut is currently looking at a budget deficit of $144.5 million, a far cry from the $100 million surplus it predicted two months ago, the Hartford Courant reported Thursday.

    The state’s ties to Wall Street are part of the problem — as a result of a downturn in holiday bonuses, wealthy bankers living in Fairfield County did not produce as much tax revenue. Real estate tax revenue has also fallen, while a consistently low unemployment rate means less income tax being paid. To balance the budget, the state is proposing a system of budgeted lapses for state agencies, with organizations spending less money than they were originally allotted.

    Some on the right have argued that Malloy’s tax increases have proven ineffective and indicate poor planning. Malloy has committed to ending this fiscal year with a surplus, the Courant reported.

  4. New version of UBYC tells it like it is

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    Undergraduates for the Best Yale College has it all figured out.

    Imagine a world with trampolines in every college courtyard, Berkeley Mac & Cheese in every dining hall and puppies in every library, Skappo on Chapel Street — no, we’re not talking about Duloc, or Yale Law School. This, my friends, is the wondrous @BestYale, a Twitter account that dares to dream of the magical place that Yale College could actually be.

    Do you miss Provost Peter Salovey’s moustache? We all do. BestYale wants to preserve it for posterity.

    Are your master’s kids not as adorable anymore? Replace them with cuter upgrades. BestYale can do that for you.

    Yale administration, listen up. There’s a lot more we could be doing if we want to have the @BestYale possible, and this Twitter account is a good start.

  5. YUAG adds local art to collection

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    Do you like Degas, Monet and really old paintings? Do you value the Rothkos and the Van Goghs? Do you also like local artists?

    The Yale University Art Gallery has added nine porcelain pieces by New Fairfield artist Jean Mann to its permanent collection, the Danbury News Times reported. Though Mann, 84, already had one of her pieces in the YUAG 20 years ago, the museum decided to expand its collection of her works after gallery curators visited her home. Her porcelain pieces are scattered across 12 museums internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

    Many of Mann’s pieces “evoke Asian culture,” according to YUAG’s Department of Asian Art. A number of her pieces are tiny and made out of white porcelain — a piece titled “Dragon Boat,” can fit in the palm of your hand.

  6. SOM campus starts to look like a building

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    The new School of Management campus is starting to take shape.

    A steel frame has emerged east of the intersection of Whitney Avenue and Sachem Street, formed by 4,750 pieces of steel. The building’s glass facade will be installed next, according to the School of Management’s website.

    The new campus is named after Edward Evans ’64, who donated $50 million to its construction in late 2010. It was designed by Lord Norman Foster ARC ’62, and should be done by 2013. The University broke ground on the project last spring.

  7. Yale still faces budget shortfall

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    More than three years after the onset of the recession, administrators say Yale’s budget has still not fully recovered.

    In a letter to faculty today, University President Richard Levin and Provost Peter Salovey said that although the University endowment rose by 21.9 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, a rise in spending is expected to outpace an increase in revenue for the 2012-’13 academic year. This anticipated gap will require administrators to make budget cuts — but not the “across-the-board cost reductions” experienced in recent years.

    “This year’s budget process will close the Fiscal Year 2013 gap, and give us time to reflect on the future priorities for the University and the best approach for funding them,” Levin and Salovey said. “Over the coming months, and extending into next fall, we will be working with deans, directors, faculty, and staff to identify the most important priorities for the future and how we might find the resources to advance them.”

    Salovey and Levin said budget cuts have reduced the $350 million budget gap that followed the roughly 25 percent investment loss in fiscal year 2009. But revenue is only expected to increase by 2.6 percent next year because of the endowment’s spending rule while expenses are anticipated to grow by 6 percent.

  8. New Haven has nation’s lowest apartment vacancy

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    New Haven has the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the nation, according to a a ranking released last week by Reis Inc., an organization that conducts studies on real estate markets. Clocking in at 2.1 percent, New Haven beat even notoriously saturated New York City, at 2.4 percent.

    New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. told the New Haven Independent that the ranking bodes well for the city.

    “Low apartment vacancies translate to a strong property tax base to pay for important city services, and population growth that helps support business growth and job creation,” he said. “It also challenges us to develop more housing, especially worker housing to keep rents from rising disproportionately.”

    This ranking includes data from the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011. New Haven also had the lowest vacancy for the third quarter of 2011, at 1.9 percent.

  9. Donation to fund new exhibition galleries

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    With a year before the Old Yale Art Gallery is set to reopen, Yale announced Wednesday that it has received an $11 million donation from Stephen Susman ’62 to fund new exhibition galleries as part of the museum’s ongoing renovation and expansion.

    The Stephen Susman Galleries will be on the gallery’s newly created fourth floor, and will house rotating exhibits drawn from the University’s collections, a Wednesday press release said. University President Richard Levin said in the release that Susman’s gift would help continue an already extensive fundraising campaign.

    “The Gallery’s 10-year renovation and expansion program has attracted the participation of many loyal and generous supporters, and Steve Susman’s gift comes at a critical time,” Levin said. “With the opening of the expanded facility only a year away, this commitment ensures that the project will be completed and the galleries fully installed in time for our grand opening celebration.”

    After the financial crisis of 2008, construction on Yale’s art galleries halted; in the years afterward, all renovations were funded by donations, Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said.

    Susman has been a member of the Yale University Art Gallery Governing Board since 1998 and made the gift in honor of his 50th Reunion, he said in the release.

    “As a Yale student, I became interested in art when I spent time with artist and professor Josef Albers,” Susman said. “My wife Ellen and I have had so much pleasure from collecting contemporary art, and I am proud the Stephen Susman Galleries will serve the thousands of visitors who enjoy this exceptional art museum free of charge.”

    Founded in 1832, the Yale University Art Gallery is America’s oldest university art gallery. It will debut its renovations in December 2012.

  10. Cornell to build engineering campus in NYC

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    Cornell University has won a bid to build an engineering campus in New York City, Bloomberg reported today.

    The competition began in July when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg invited proposals for a campus for engineering and applied science. Bloomberg announced that Cornell won the competition — which featured proposals from 15 other schools, including Stanford and Columbia — during a press conference this afternoon, according to a statement from his office.

    Ronald Ehrenberg, director of Cornell’s Higher Education Research Institute, told Bloomberg that the campus was crucial for tying the Ithaca, N.Y. university to America’s largest city. Cornell’s proposed campus will be 2 million square feet and house 2,000 students on Roosevelt Island, one of the land-grant properties offered by the city. Cornell’s medical school is already located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

    “The trustees and the president have long wanted to have a bigger presence in New York City,” Ehrenberg said. “The notion that you can be a great international university in the 21st century if you’re located in rural upstate New York doesn’t work.”

    A major factor to Cornell winning the competition was an anonymous $350 million gift made to the school, announced on Dec 16. Cornell may also receive as much as $100 million for infrastructure improvements on the island, according to Bloomberg.

    “It is a tremendous boost in morale and recognition for Cornell,” said Yale’s Vice President of Development Inge Reichenbach, who held the same role at Cornell for a decade. “It is an amazing opportunity.”

    As Cornell plans its expansion into the city, Yale is currently seeking a $500 million donation for the naming rights to West Campus, a roughly 6 million square foot property in West Haven, Conn.

    Yale purchased West Campus from Bayer Pharmaceuticals for $107 million in 2007.