When the new colleges open in August 2017, they will welcome about 200 new freshmen. Less frequently discussed are those who will be joining them: juniors annexed from their residential colleges.
While discussions on how to populate the new colleges are far from over, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said in their first year they will house annexed juniors — a necessary provision, given that in the same year, Swing Space will be renovated for use by law students. Juniors who would otherwise have lived in Swing Space will likely occupy roughly two-thirds of the beds allocated for juniors, he said.
“We’re growing Yale College by 800 students, but the [new colleges’] bed capacity is beyond that,” Holloway said. “In the first year it will be annex … and things will sort themselves out over the next two years, as they fill.”
Holloway said he expects many students will choose to transfer into the new colleges, leaving open beds in their former colleges. This will reduce the need for annex housing, allowing more students to remain within their actual colleges, he said.
The new colleges should provide enough space to absorb students who would have been annexed, he added.
But according to Alice Raucher, major projects planner for the University, the new colleges will have a total of 904 beds. This would mean that after around 800 new students populate the colleges, just over 100 beds will be available for the slightly more than 150 students who live in Swing Space each year.
Still, Holloway acknowledged that administrators are not entirely sure what the effect of students transferring to the new colleges will have on the populations of the current 12 colleges. The University has no plans to replace Swing Space, he said, adding that in recent years, Yale has actually been reducing its use of annex housing.
Holloway noted that much of the current planning is still based on guesswork. For example, a problem yet to be resolved is that when the first students to enter the new colleges as freshmen reach their junior year, they will have priority over annexed students, Holloway said. But these issues will work themselves out when the time comes, especially because residential college deans will be managing housing situations very carefully, he said.
Three of the residential college deans declined to comment, and nine more did not return request for comment.
“The hope is that the new colleges — keeping in mind historic patterns of people living off campus at a certain percentage — will absorb people who have normally been annexed,” Holloway said.
According to the Office of Institutional Research, each year about 13 percent of undergraduates live off campus.
Simone Seiver ’17, a member of Pierson College’s housing committee, said Pierson’s annex housing facility, Arnold Hall, always has more than enough space for overflow from the college proper. She said she cannot imagine a scenario in which there would not be enough beds for the number of students annexed.
But Kelly Wu ’16, co-chair of Timothy Dwight College’s housing committee, said that annex housing is often important to housing calculations in her college. It is the norm for the number of students to exceed the number of beds available, she said, adding that students who do not fit into Rosenfeld Hall — Timothy Dwight’s annex — are assigned to whatever rooms are left around campus, including Arnold Hall or Swing Space.
Swing Space is not critical to fitting all of Morse College’s students, but it is a popular option, said David Pitera ’15, chair of Morse’s housing committee.
Morse College housing representative Mimi Pham ’17 added that if the number of students placed into Morse stays constant, it would be “terribly inconvenient” to annex Morse students — roughly 35 of whom currently live in Swing Space — to a completely different residential college.
Dean of Studen Affairs Marichal Gentry also noted that Swing Space has grown in popularity in recent years, adding that the availability of kitchens within the Swing Space suites might make it an appealing option to students who would otherwise consider moving off campus.
The suites in the new residential colleges, which are modeled after suites in the existing 12 colleges, will not have kitchens, Raucher said. Swing Space Fellow Bowen Posner said while he can not speculate as to how students will react to living in the new colleges, students in Swing Space have told him they appreciate the amenities there.
Gentry said it is hard to tell whether the absence of kitchens in the new colleges will inspire students who might be annexed to move off campus instead. However, he said, he does not envision that the shift from Swing Space will cause a significant uptick in off-campus living.
“I think the new colleges are going to be an attractive feature anyway, and I think it’s going to be attractive for anyone to live in that new space,” he said. “What amenities [the new colleges] may not have, there will be another amenity they add on that no one else has. It’s too early to tell how that’s going to play out.”
Holloway echoed Gentry’s comments, adding that he does not expect that students annexed to the new colleges will move off campus instead.
Five out of eight students interviewed said that if they were to be annexed to the new colleges, they would accept the offer and stay on campus despite the remote location.
Hiro Suzuki, another Swing Space Fellow, acknowledged that current Swing Space residents already have to make a concerted effort to return to their colleges to see friends. But he added that he does not believe students resent the distance.
But even the students who would be amenable to living in the new residential colleges as annexed juniors expressed concerns about what the environment would be like for students living in a residential college that was not their own, rather than within a building explicitly designated for annex housing.
“I worry that [annexing juniors] to the new colleges undermines an idea of building a community,” said Emily Harris ’15, who lived in Swing Space last year. “Right now people enjoy living in Swing Space — big rooms, kitchenettes, private bathrooms. If the alternative is being annexed into a regular college, people would not be happy about that.”
Dana Chaykovsky ’17 said that living in a small, annexed group within a larger college community would make her feel ostracized.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the two new colleges is slated to take place in April.