Deniz Saip

Students admitted to the two new residential colleges received their transfer assignments Monday morning, moving Yale one step closer to the opening of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges.

The assignments marked the latest stage in a monthslong transfer process for undergraduates hoping to move into the Prospect Street facilities, set to open in August. In December, more than 500 students earned spots in the college expansion, but not in a specific college. That changed on Monday morning, when the transferring students received emails from the heads and deans of the colleges notifying them of the assignments. A page listing students’ college assignments now appears on Yale’s college expansion website.

“The moment that you have a list of names, there’s a moment of ‘Wow, this is coming true,’” said Tina Lu, the head of Murray College. “I’m excited to get to know all these people who are going to come to Pauli Murray College with their notions of what our community should be like, their very specific experiences of Yale College.”

Of the 507 students who secured rooms in December, 243 were placed in Benjamin Franklin and 264 in Murray, according to Paul McKinley, the director of strategic communications for Yale College. But the assignments will only become binding after the Murray and Franklin room draws on Jan. 27. Natalie Orner ’19, who found out Monday that she was placed into Murray College, said she is excited about her assignment.

“It feels like a huge honor to have been placed in Pauli Murray College,” Orner said. “Of the two new colleges, I had been most hoping to be placed in Pauli Murray, so I was very pleased to receive the news. I am intrigued and excited at the opportunity to be a member of the first college at Yale to be named for an [African-American], female, activist leader.”

Still, some students in the transfer pool remain uncertain about moving to the Prospect Street colleges. Even Orner said that despite her enthusiasm for Murray, her fond memories of Timothy Dwight College make her hesitant to join a new and unfamiliar community. And Ryan Gittler ’20, a staff reporter for the News who was also placed into Murray, said he is still ambivalent about the transfer decision.

“I submitted an application with my friends so that we would have the option to transfer, but we still aren’t set on leaving our current college,” Gittler said. “Now that we know we will be in Murray we are planning to discuss our options more seriously, and obviously decide before room draw on the 27th.”

Students who want another shot at a place in the two colleges can submit an application by the Feb. 10 deadline for transfers across any of the colleges. Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said the college assignments were random, although the University sought for an approximate gender balance and tried to keep friend groups together where possible.

The University was never concerned about filling the colleges to capacity, Holloway said. If no one had expressed a desire to transfer to Murray and Franklin, he said, annexed students like the ones in Swing Space would have been moved to the Prospect Street facilities.

But ultimately, hundreds of current undergraduates applied for slots in the colleges.

“We were really thrilled with the level of interest that people expressed in terms of occupying the buildings,” Holloway said.

After a decade of planning and construction, Murray and Benjamin Franklin will open their gates this fall, increasing the enrollment of Yale College by around 800 students over the next four years.

The construction of the colleges was funded largely by a $250 million donation from Charles Johnson ’54, who requested that one of the two new buildings take the name of his personal hero Benjamin Franklin. The naming of Benjamin Franklin — which was only announced last spring, three years after the Yale Corporation settled on the name — set off student protests that now appear to have cooled as the buildings continue to take shape on Prospect Street.

The announcement of college assignments on Monday represented just the latest milestone in a process that Lu and Head of Benjamin Franklin Charles Bailyn began last summer, when they agreed to lead the first college expansion at Yale since Morse and Ezra Stiles college opened in the 1960s.

Bailyn said the new Benjamin Franklin students reflect a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, and that he hopes to get to know them better at a college retreat planned for the spring.

In an email to the News, the newly appointed dean of Pauli Murray, Alexander Rosas, said the students admitted to Murray come from all 12 colleges, more than 35 declared academic majors, and from across the United States and more than 22 countries around the world.

“Head Lu and I are so excited to welcome the founding members of Pauli Murray College,” Rosas said. “It is an amazing group of students, reflective of the great diversity of Yale.”

Lu said she plans to hold two college retreats in early April, one for freshman counselors and college aides, and another for everyone affiliated with the college, including the 264 students assigned to Murray on Monday.

On Jan. 27, the colleges will hold lotteries at 4 p.m., to determine the order in which students pick their rooms. The room draws will follow at 8 p.m.