As the construction of Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges continues, the University is now putting greater focus on the roughly 800 students who will form the heart of the new Prospect Street communities.
In a Wednesday email to Yale College students, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway unveiled a new website detailing floor plans for both Murray and Benjamin Franklin, as well as a timeline for students looking to transfer into the new colleges. Yale will accept transfer applications starting Nov. 7 until Dec. 9, when the first of two transfer lotteries is scheduled to take place. The second lottery — open to students who missed out on spots in the first round but who are willing to recombine into new suite configurations — will take place on Dec. 14.
According to the website, college assignments will be announced on Jan. 16, just before the start of the spring semester, and room draws will occur later that month. Students applying for a slot in the new colleges will not be permitted to choose between Murray and Benjamin Franklin, Holloway announced in an email earlier this month.
Benjamin Franklin College Head Charles Bailyn ’81 said the opportunity to transfer into a new college will give Yale students a once-in-a-lifetime chance to shape a new set of University traditions.
“It’s something that hasn’t happened at Yale in many, many years, and it probably won’t happen again in our lifetime,” Bailyn said. “Yale is a place with very powerful and long-standing traditions, many of which are great, some of which are somewhat problematic, and you don’t have many opportunities to do something really new.”
The last time Yale opened new residential colleges was in 1962, a year after Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges began admitting students.
In the email, Holloway also announced the creation of a transfer committee chaired by undergraduates that will coordinate the college-assignment lotteries and room draws as well as communicate with the leadership of the two colleges and the broader Yale community. Bailyn and Head of Murray College Tina Lu will hold information sessions on Nov. 15 and Dec. 1 for students interested in transferring into Benjamin Franklin or Murray.
The website states that each college offers 100 beds to rising seniors, 100 to rising juniors and 120 to rising sophomores. In order to transfer, students can form groups — which may include students from across any of the current colleges — or apply for a stand-alone single. Just as in the existing 12 colleges, students will be permitted to reconfigure their groups during the monthlong application window as they position themselves for the transfer lottery.
Rising seniors looking to work as freshman counselors in Murray or Benjamin Franklin will follow the same transfer procedure as other applicants, according to the website. Aspiring FroCos will be allowed to apply for the position after college assignments are announced in January.
“It’s going to be really important for us to get awesome FroCos,” said Lu. “I think it’s going to be an amazing opportunity for someone who wants to help foster community and be a community leader in either Murray or Franklin.”
The new colleges are the result of a $250 million donation from Charles Johnson ’54, whose request for one of the colleges to be named after Benjamin Franklin was granted by the Yale Corporation in 2013. However, the Corporation did not reveal that decision until April 2016, despite telling the Yale community last winter that both college names were open for discussion.
Six months after the naming decisions were announced, it remains unclear whether students will scramble for spots in the colleges, or if the rule against choosing between Murray and Benjamin Franklin will deter them from transferring.
Archeta Rajagopalan ’19 told the News that having access to the floor plans will entice students to transfer, and that the number of singles available appeals to many students. She added that the information sessions will also increase interest in transferring, although she still thinks more students will want to be in Murray than in Franklin due to the controversy around the colleges’ names.
Bailyn and Lu said the new colleges will shift the center of campus northward. Bailyn added that putting residential college dining halls this close to Science Hill will also make faculty members who work in the science buildings more likely to eat with undergraduates.
Prospect Walk — a new path set to run through the colleges from Prospect Street toward Yale Health, making it the quickest route from Science Hill to Payne Whitney Gymnasium — will become a well-traveled campus thoroughfare Bailyn said.
In an interview with the News, Holloway noted that with Commons set to close for three years of construction starting next fall, the long-term structure of Yale’s campus will not become entirely clear until the Schwarzman Center opens in 2020.
Still, with the colleges scheduled to open in the fall, Bailyn and Lu are turning their attention to creating new traditions that they hope will come to define life at Murray and Benjamin Franklin. After the first room draw, Bailyn said, the colleges will hold retreats and discussions with the college’s new students to begin establishing college customs.
“By the end of my first term as head of college, there will be very, very few undergraduates who remember a Yale before Franklin and Murray,” Bailyn said. “The establishment of tradition is going to happen very fast. The people who are present in year one are the people who are going to determine the basic outline of what’s going to happen in a place that will be in existence long after all of us are gone.”