Last Friday, Saybrook Head of College Thomas Near sent an email to first years in the college, stating that it was “unlikely” that he would approve requests to transfer out of Saybrook for rising sophomores. Some first years in Saybrook expressed frustration in response to Near’s message, particularly those who had already made arrangements to transfer.
In the email, Near emphasized that it was important for rising sophomores to develop relationships with other Saybrook students and added that he would be more likely to accept transfers into the college “to compliment [first years’] housing plans.” Near told the News that his email was not an indication of a new policy and was in line with general University practice.
“I think my email adequately conveys the University’s overall approach … which is first years should not overlook importance of securing housing within their own colleges,” Near told the News.
Still, Deja Chappell ’21, who transferred out of Saybrook and into Timothy Dwight College as a rising sophomore last year, said that she found Near’s email “interesting” because when she met with him last year to transfer out of Saybrook, her experience “was super stress-free.”
Chappell, who took a gap year before coming to Yale, said that she was very quickly disillusioned by the residential college system and did not want to room with six people during her sophomore year, which is one of Saybrook’s requirements. She added that the organically formed communities that most college students seek in their experience do not necessarily require such a system.
“My freshman year roommates were amazing,” Chappell said. “It was just three people, and it was very cozy. I just didn’t want to live with six people and was looking to live off campus. I didn’t think [living in my assigned residential college] mattered that much, so I transferred to TD to live with my friend in Rosenfeld Hall.”
Chappell explained that “it’s really easy to harp on Saybrook,” but she does not “think any of the colleges offer the kind of residential experience that most average college students are looking for.”
Ismael Jamai Ait Hmitti ’22 said that at first he had been “the one waving the flag for Saybrook” but “couldn’t find a community … in the college,” which prompted his desire to transfer out.
“I have much deeper roots in the Morse community,” Ait Hmitti said. “The HOC’s email gave an impression of forced community. I don’t necessarily feel that bond to Saybrook and was a bit irked by that undertone of the email. … It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s important to me.”
Ait Hmitti said he is yet to formally submit his request to transfer out of Saybrook.
Stella Vujic ’22 said in an email to the News that she “personally love[s]” Saybrook and thinks that Near “is really focused on cultivating a strong, tight-knit community in Saybrook that truly feels like a home for every student in the college.” She added that the residential college system is designed to fulfill that role and that Near welcoming transfers into Saybrook speaks to that goal.
Sami Elrazky ’22 said he had been considering transferring colleges for the majority of first semester, and “this was a major change of plans.” He added that he “had gone through most of the first semester in a cycle of not talking to anyone” because he planned to transfer to another college, and his decision to transfer was “reinforced” because he “didn’t have any friends in Saybrook.”
“With transferring being out of the question, I asked one of my suitemates … to introduce me to his friend group. I’ve since been hanging out with that friend group regularly, which I’m happy about as they’re a great bunch of guys who I probably wouldn’t have talked to if my plans to transfer had played out,” he told the News.
Chair of the Council of Heads of College Julia Adams told the News that transfers are generally not guaranteed and are, “in fact, fairly rare.” Adams added that there is a need for “systemic limits to avoid complete turbulence,” and the University has some of those in place already, such as not allowing students to transfer year round.
“We have 14 colleges, and there is a common devotion to community, and there is always a question of individual choice, and in between there is a system of regulation. All three coexist, and I think overall we’ll look to balance these things,” Adams said. “There will always be reasonable reasons to transfer, and I think no set of heads and deans would ever slam the door on considering someone’s application.”
The deadline for transfer applications is Friday, Feb. 8.
John Besche | firstname.lastname@example.org