Deniz Saip

One hundred twenty one students have signed up to transfer to one of Yale’s new residential colleges since the window for applications opened last week.

As of Tuesday night, 53 suite groups were listed on Yale’s official college expansion website, which will translate to 140 transferring students if each group is filled before the Dec. 9 application deadline for a place in Benjamin Franklin or Pauli Murray college. In each college, 100 slots are available to rising seniors, 100 to rising juniors and 125 to rising sophomores.

About 60 undergraduates gathered in the main lecture room in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall on Tuesday afternoon for an information session on the new colleges, led by the two college heads, who were both dressed in sweatshirts bearing the crest of their respective colleges.

In his introductory remarks, Head of Benjamin Franklin College Charles Bailyn ’81 pitched the transfer to the Prospect Street colleges as an opportunity to cultivate a sense of community despite the divisive post-election climate on campus and across the country.

“We’ve had situations on this campus and in the broader world, where community values of mutual support and inclusivity have been challenged a little bit, and we have the opportunity to create something new without relying on the patterns and traditions of the past,” Bailyn said.

Bailyn recently returned to New Haven after a stint as the inaugural dean of faculty at Yale-NUS College, which opened in 2013.

At the information session, Baylin told students that his experience in Singapore gave him insight into the way the new colleges’ traditions may develop.

“In the first year, you do everything that anybody can think of, you don’t stop and pause too much and ask if this is better than that,” Bailyn said. “In the second year, some of it has worked, and some of it hasn’t. In your third year, you’re doing it a third time, and it’s a tradition.”

For her part, Head of Murray College Tina Lu emphasized the intimacy she hopes to foster in Murray. In a slideshow presentation, Lu displayed photographs of her five children as well as pictures of the family’s dog.

“We already have the best students on earth at Yale College, and what we’re going to be doing is fostering the community from the bottom up,” Lu said, noting that transferring students will get “the benefits of Yale tradition but also the opportunity to be northern pioneers.”

Lu added that the University is set to announce the deans of the two new colleges shortly after Thanksgiving break. Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway told the News earlier this month that he expects both deans to begin work in January, in time for the room-draw lottery.

Holloway has gradually rolled out details on the transfer process over the course of the semester. In a Nov. 3 email to the undergraduate community, Holloway unveiled Yale’s official college expansion website, which displays floor plans and available suite configurations.

According to the website, Yale will accept transfer applications until Dec. 9, when the first of two transfer lotteries is scheduled to take place. The second lottery, open to students who do not receive spots in the first round but who are willing to recombine into new suite configurations, will take place on Dec. 14.

In order to transfer, students can apply for a stand-alone single or form groups, which may include students from across any of the current colleges. Just as in the existing 12 colleges, students are permitted to reconfigure their groups during the month-long application window as they position themselves for the transfer lottery. The University will announce college assignments on Jan. 16.

Students who receive a spot in the new colleges will not be permitted to choose between Murray and Benjamin Franklin. The naming of Benjamin Franklin provoked widespread student criticism when it was announced last April, and over the last month, some students have expressed reluctance about transferring into the new colleges if they are unable to list a preference for Murray.

But naming issues were not the main topic of the Tuesday afternoon meeting. Instead, attendees focused more on the nuts and bolts of residential college life, asking whether student keycards will access facilities in both buildings — they will — and whether transferring students will receive free room and board, which they won’t.

In interviews with the News, students listed a variety of reasons for applying to Murray and Benjamin Franklin. One student said he hoped to unite with a dozen friends spread out across the existing residential colleges. Another said she likes the idea of founding a new community on Prospect Street with its own traditions.

“Yale hasn’t had any new colleges open up since 1962,” said Steven Tian ’20, who serves on an undergraduate committee tasked with overseeing the housing process. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Tian added that the opening of the colleges presents an ideal opportunity to “shape Yale into a more inclusive community.”

Lu and Bailyn will host a second information session on Dec. 1.