If University administrators choose to continue the development and construction of the two new colleges, then they will be responsible not only for maintaining the quality of Yale’s academic offerings, but also the quality of student life and its supporting services.
Expanding access to Yale education means sharing the best we have to offer — including our thriving Old Campus, college system and our student resources — to a greater number of Yalies without diluting the quality of these offerings.
For generations of students, Old Campus has been the initial heart of Yale. As we walk through Phelps Gate, we learn from our first day on campus that our social groups will extend beyond our residential colleges, and that we are connected with our peers, regardless of the communities they will inhabit or the clubs they will join. An equalizing force, Old Campus provides freshmen a shared space for socialization, conversation and friendship.
Freshmen of the new colleges deserve to live on Old Campus. Perhaps more than any other first-year students, these freshmen deserve a year to connect with students from every college, rather than being hidden away on Science Hill. Without a year to connect with the rest of their class, students may find themselves isolated on a social island along the Prospect-Sachem Triangle.
Of course, not all freshmen live on Old Campus, and those of Timothy Dwight and Silliman colleges can face a feeling of isolation. The problems with first-year student life in four-year colleges will only be exacerbated by the increased distance of these new colleges from Old Campus.
Making space for these freshmen on Old Campus will in turn solve another space-related issue. Annex housing proves a burden and challenge for numerous Yalies, who are unable to spend a year living in the residential college communities that they call home.
Therefore, the new colleges must also help alleviate the problem of annex housing. With increased space, a rebalancing of college populations will allow for annexing to be limited or discontinued. In turn, McClellan Hall and other spaces on Old Campus can become homes for the future freshmen of the new colleges. It will take self-control on the part of a Salovey administration to prevent the expansion of the student body to beyond the colleges’ capacities.
It is also important to consider that the increase in student body size created by the new colleges will overcrowd already strained services on campus.
Yale Health, mental health services, fitness centers, theaters and study spaces — resources integral to the health and happiness of the student body — are already burdened by high demand.
The addition of two new colleges may provide some answers to these issues through an increase in physical space, but for an entire student body to truly enjoy the benefits of these facilities, Yale must create a standardized, campuswide system for sharing student resources across the colleges.
If these goals cannot be met, then the new colleges will fail to achieve their purpose. Expanding the Yale experience to a greater audience should not require fundamentally changing or denying what it means to live at Yale.