Aakshi Chaba

After the Hall of Graduate Studies closed for renovations in May to become a humanities center set to open in 2020, many of its former residents moved into the newly built 272 Elm St. graduate dormitory. 

The housing at 272 Elm St. will prioritize availability for first years in the University Graduate School of Art and Science. But it currently also houses students who had lived in HGS.

And despite the new dorm’s modern features and new appliances, five residents of the building interviewed by the News expressed a wide range of opinions on the new housing option. While some appreciated the weekly events hosted at the building, others noted that there was no sense of community in the complex.

Bao Wang GRD ’24 said he liked living in the building, mentioning frequent social activities and  its “convenient” location near Broadway. According to Wang, graduate student housing organizes weekly wine nights for residents of the building. Two weeks ago, Wang said the event also included a jazz band. Events are held in the common room, which Wang said consisted of some chairs, tables and a bathroom.

“According to the policies, we’re only allowed to live in 272 Elm for one year, and … . we want to live there forever,” Wang said.

Still, other students were not as enthusiastic about the new housing — especially in comparison to HGS.

Zhiyu Xiao told the News that the residents do not really know each other. He explained that while the common room has a large TV and many chairs, not many people go there — and when people go to study, they don’t really speak to one another. 

Xiao said that he tried to knock on the doors of the other students on his floor to say hello, but  he said that the conversations did not ultimately lead to friendship. He said that this happened in part because they do not have a common space on each floor where people actually meet each other. He said that 272 Elm is “isolated” and “doesn’t make [him] feel warm.”

“272 is not really a community,” Xiao said. “It’s just a place.”

He said that he’s hasn’t yet felt a sense of community, and that he doesn’t think that anyone on his floor feels that way.

Once it reopens, HGS, which is currently undergoing renovations to become a humanities center set to open in 2020. The new center will house 15 humanities departments and programs and will include graduate student workspaces, a common room for first years enrolled in the Directed Studies program and a movie screening room with 90 seats, among other class and event space.

Before the HGS dorms permanently closed to make room for the new humanities center, 169 graduate students lived in HGS. Residents of the building moved into alternate housing, with many moving to the recently renovated Baker Hall and others to 272 Elm Street. In 2017, the McDougal Graduate Student Center, a hub of the graduate student community, also moved out of HGS to its new location at 135 Prospect St. 

Karen Peart, Yale’s director of external relations, said that 272 Elm St. provides “wonderful, modern” accommodations, and was developed with input from both graduate and professional student housing committees. Alexander Fulmer GRD ’23, 272 Elm’s Graduate Student Housing Coordinator, did not respond to request for comment.

“Residents are part of an active, inclusive community, that regularly hosts an array of events, including upcoming potlucks and a winter party,” Peart told the News.

Still, Jillian Anderson SPH ’23 said that the set-up of the common room was not “really conducive for group work or hanging out,” adding that while she liked other residents, there was no way to get to know them.

“HGS was a very family environment, and you got lifelong friends, and you felt a sense of community, whereas I haven’t met a single person who lives here,” Anderson told the News.

However, Zeyu Kuang, a first-year biophysics graduate student, said that he does not feel excluded in any way in the building — adding that the events thrown by the building’s manager are useful meeting others in the building.

Aishwarya Patil, a first year IDE graduate student, agreed with Kuang. She has met people from many different disciplines, and said that she feels there are many events that allow students to bond.

“We’ve just had a survey to fill in about the dorms, and I’ve given such great reviews… I believe this is the best dorm at Yale,” said Patil.

272 Elm’s first and second floors are retail space for L.L. Bean.

Aakshi Chaba | aakshi.chaba@yale.edu

Sammy Westfall | sammy.westfall@yale.edu .