Students looking to transfer into one of Yale’s new residential colleges next fall will not be able to choose between the two, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway announced in a community wide email Thursday.
Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges will start accepting online transfer applications from current Yale students in mid-December. But the transfer process — which will culminate in a random lottery for spots in the new colleges — will not take into account a student’s preference for one college over the other.
In recent months, the naming of Franklin College, which was privately decided by the Yale Corporation in 2013, provoked outrage from students who hoped Yale would choose a woman or person of color as the college’s namesake. And in interviews with the News, students largely said they would prefer to move into Murray College, and expressed frustration with the transfer system.
Still, Holloway told the News Wednesday that he thinks the two colleges are equally desirable, although he acknowledged some students may prefer Murray.
“These colleges are going to be pretty cool,” Holloway said. “A lot of people are going to say at the end of the day, ‘Maybe Murray would have been preferable, but Franklin is pretty cool.’”
In the Thursday email, Holloway outlined a multistep process for transferring into the two new colleges. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors from any of the 12 existing colleges will be allowed to apply for rooms ranging in size from singles to octets, the email stated. A first-round lottery will determine which students get placed into the new colleges. After that, students who missed out on spots will have a chance to form new rooming groups before entering a second lottery for any dorms with vacancies. After both lotteries, the heads of the two colleges will notify students about their assignments. But just as in Yale’s 12 existing colleges, assignments to Franklin or Murray will not become binding until students formally commit to a room in the new colleges.
Members of the class of 2021 will be sorted randomly into one of the 14 colleges. To compensate for the new buildings, Yale projects it will admit 200 additional students per class over the next four years.
The construction of the new colleges was funded by a $250 million gift from billionaire businessman Charles Johnson ’54. In 2013, at Johnson’s request, the Yale Corporation agreed to name one of the colleges after Benjamin Franklin, but did not make that decision public.
Head of Franklin College Charles Bailyn ’81 wrote in an email to the News that Benjamin Franklin’s wide range of accomplishments makes him a good role model for Yale students.
“Most of the concern about the Franklin name comes from the process by which it was named, not the name itself,” Bailyn wrote. “I have no problem making the case for Ben Franklin as a historical figure, and no problem advocating enthusiastically for students to become part of a college named after him.”
He added that Franklin — a successful printer, inventor and revolutionary who also owned slaves as a young man — spoke out against slavery toward the end of his life.
Head of Murray College Tina Lu said the equal distribution of students across both colleges makes sense because Murray and Franklin will share a number of facilities, including seminar rooms and a gymnasium.
“We really want to emerge from the transfer process with the most balanced communities as possible that kind of look like the rest of Yale College,” Lu said. “There are all sorts of ways that Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin are sharing resources, and we’re sharing students as well.”
But in interviews with the News, seven of eight students said they believe most students would prefer a spot in Murray over one in Franklin, and four said they were concerned that the transfer rules outlined in the email could be unfair to students who do not get their first-choice placement. Still, students acknowledged that the transfer policy is the only way for Yale to ensure an even distribution of students across the two colleges.
“If you are choosing to transfer, you should have a choice in what college you are going to be placed into,” said Archeta Rajagopalan ’19. “I’m not sure if I really like that.”
But Rajagopalan — who said that if she decided to transfer she would prefer Murray over Franklin — added that the University’s approach makes sense as a strategy to prevent Murray from becoming oversubscribed. Other students noted that transferring between the 12 existing colleges gives students a choice about their destination, while the transfer process announced Thursday does not.
“A lot more people would want to transfer into Murray than Franklin, but at the same time, in previous years, if someone wanted to transfer into a different college, you got to pick,” said Samantha Berek ’20.
Still, the names of the two new colleges represent just one of several factors students are weighing as they consider whether to relocate to Prospect Street. One student said he is still trying to coordinate housing plans for next year with his friends. Another said he would like a closer look at the college butteries before making a decision.
“I feel like we don’t know very much about the facilities,” said Haley Mitchell-Adams ’18. “We’ve seen them go up, but we don’t really know what they look like on the inside.”
Yale’s first seven residential colleges opened in 1933.