Deniz Saip

On Friday, students intending to live in Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges next year received their official room assignments, the latest step in the development of Yale’s newest residential communities.

In December, 507 rising sophomores, juniors and seniors secured rooms in the two colleges, with 243 given room assignments in Benjamin Franklin and 264 in Murray. The assignments became binding on Friday after students who participated in the two separate room draws confirmed their spots in the college expansion.

Of the total 507 students offered spots in the new colleges, 360 students entered the room draw — with 177 students assigned rooms in Pauli Murray and 183 in Benjamin Franklin, according to college administrators. Students who want another chance at a spot in the two colleges can submit an application by the Feb 10. deadline for transfers across any of the 14 residential colleges.

“[Pauli Murray Head Tina Lu] and I were so excited by the energy and enthusiasm surrounding our inaugural room draw this past Friday,” said Pauli Murray Dean Alexander Rosas. “It was clear to us that our founding class is eager to get started in building our new community to the north, and I am thrilled to be working with them. After weeks of looking at names in spreadsheets, it was great to see real faces and to meet new neighbors.”

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. Friday’s room draw marked 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 colleges opened in the 1960s.

“The room was abuzz with excitement at our first lottery. Students grasped that they are the drivers of this new social experiment,” said Benjamin Franklin Dean Jessie Hill. “And there’s still room for others to join them. The next transfer lottery is two weeks from now and we still have lots of prime real estate in the college.”

In interviews, students who took part in the room draw expressed excitement about moving to the Prospect Street colleges in the fall. Natalie Orner ’19, who was placed into Murray College, previously said that she was uncertain about whether she would go through with the transfer process. But on Monday she said she decided to commit to Murray, citing access to new facilities and the opportunity to be part of the college’s founding class.

“Ultimately, it was the chance to have so many more facilities available, and to have a say in how those facilities will be used in a way that could make Pauli Murray another essential community on campus,” Orner said. “It feels like a lot of pressure, but it could also be a lot of fun. Plus, the rooms are fairly large and very nice which doesn’t hurt.”

Still, some students who were placed into Murray or Benjamin Franklin earlier this year decided not to move. Melissa Kropf ’19, who was placed into Benjamin Franklin, said she chose to remain in Timothy Dwight College, as she has multiple jobs there and a close relationship with her head of college.

As Yale moves one step closer to the opening of the new colleges, the deans and heads of both Murray and Franklin said they look forward to welcoming their first student members.

“The size of the college went from six people — me, Dean Hill and our families — to around 200 in the course of an hour. We’ll never have the kind of expansion again.” Bailyn said. “So I feel that now we can finally begin the activity I’ve been looking forward to ever since I accepted the role, namely building the new community. One small example: There are now a lot of Benjamin Franklin College T-shirts around campus. Too bad it’s winter so they are likely covered up by coats and parkas and such.”

Both Bailyn and Lu underscored the importance of student input as the colleges begin the task of furnishing the college butteries and organizing social events and intramural sports.

Lu said she and Rosas have begun to receive input from students who are floating ideas about a soft-serve ice cream maker, hammocks and a community garden.

“A community is what every member brings to it. The only things that matter are things that come from all of us,” Lu said. “Community should probably be a verb. It’s something we all do together.”

Both Bailyn and Lu said they plan to hold retreats in April for students and others members of the colleges.