Robbie Short

As the school year gets underway, upperclass students in Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray  colleges are settling into their new communities after a smooth transfer process.

And while the new colleges were intended to reduce crowding in the other 12 colleges, Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray have ended up being more populous than initially anticipated. The number of students who decided to transfer last year surprised administrators, exceeding expectations “by a fairly large amount,” according to Head of Pauli Murray College Tina Lu.

In February, then-Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said the University was never concerned about filling the new colleges to capacity. If no one had expressed a desire to transfer to Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray, annexed students like the ones in Swing Space would have been moved to the Prospect Street facilities instead. However, Holloway said he was thrilled with the number of people who ultimately opted to transfer.

The widespread interest in transferring to the new Prospect Street facilities has left vacancies in the other colleges. But Yale College Dean Marvin Chun said that every community will feel “quickly renewed” by first-year students, adding that these vacancies signify that the new colleges are fulfilling their purpose.

“At a larger scale one of the goals of having the new colleges is to make the existing colleges smaller so that students will not have to be annexed,” Chun said.

Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray began accepting online transfer applications from currently enrolled Yale students in mid-December. Two random lotteries for spots in the new colleges were then held in December 2016, followed by a final lottery in February 2017. While the December lotteries were specifically for students intending to live in Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges, the February lottery was part of the regular transfer process across all 14 residential colleges.

Following the December lotteries, 177 students were assigned rooms in Pauli Murray and 183 in Benjamin Franklin. The February lottery added approximately 49 more students to Pauli Murray and 43 to Benjamin Franklin.

“Thanks to the transfers, the new colleges feel like full communities,” Chun said.

Head of Benjamin Franklin College Charles Bailyn said that students were encouraged to form rooming groups when applying to the new colleges, and were then allocated suites to the two colleges in “basically random fashion,” according to the availability of housing.

Despite student criticism about the University’s decision to select Benjamin Franklin as one of the college’s namesakes — which Holloway said initially raised some concern — Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray have around the same number of people in their founding classes.

“I’m really thrilled with the numbers,” Holloway said. “I would be lying if I said I had certainty that we would get ‘x’ number of students. These colleges will be 60 percent full in year one, and that’s to me a great success.”

The opportunity to create housing groups with peers from other colleges allowed students to transfer to Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray in groups formed on the basis of shared backgrounds or extracurricular commitments.

In March, Bailyn told the News that the new colleges would house some suites consisting primarily of international students, as well as some that are disproportionately inhabited by athletes or members of singing groups.

“I think that students really appreciated this kind of one-time offer to regroup and live with friends who happened to live in other colleges and we were able to tap into that,” Lu said.

Maritza Grillo ’19, a junior in Pauli Murray College and a member of the Yale women’s soccer team, said she decided to transfer for the opportunity to live with friends, have access to new facilities and take part in building a new community.

Similarly, in March, Yondeen Sherpa ’18, who is now a first-year counselor in Pauli Murray, told the News she would be transferring with a “big group of international friends.”

Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin will increase enrollment in Yale College by 800 students over the next four years.

Contact Zainab Hamid at zainab.hamid@yale.edu .