To many Silliman sophomores’ dismay, this year’s housing draw may end poorly for some students who will be annexed to Benjamin Franklin College for the first time.
While the Silliman administration does not yet know the final number, as the housing draw for rising juniors will be held on Tuesday, a group of current students will definitely be moving to Franklin next year, according to Silliman Head of College Laurie Santos. As of Monday night, twelve students volunteered to be placed in the annex housing lottery on Vesta, the online housing service. Some students in Silliman were shocked by the initial announcement and expressed their displeasure at the fact that some of them would be forced to move up Prospect Street. Others volunteered to take rooms in Franklin because they were excited that they could live in singles next year. But Yale College Dean Marvin Chun, Santos and Silliman students all expressed a desire to find another solution in the future.
“We really are grateful that an increasing number of students are willing to stay on campus, especially in Silliman,” Chun said. “It’s just really hard to get the numbers perfect around the margins, and I’m glad that the number is not larger.”
According to Santos, Silliman’s capacity problem can be attributed to the unusually high yield of Yale’s entire Class of 2021. In 2017, Yale College asked Silliman to take on a class of 122 first-years, up eight people from their usual class size of 114. Santos and Silliman Dean Leanna Barlow agreed to take on the extra students under the premise that they would receive a smaller group of students from the Class of 2022. But this year the College allocated Silliman 124 students, further exacerbating the college’s capacity problem.
Chun noted that all of Yale College is lacking annex housing due to all the construction around campus. He stressed that Yale College is not placing the rising Silliman juniors in subpar housing. The physical accommodations in Franklin will most likely be more spacious and newer than those that students would have inhabited in Silliman. Additionally, the students will not be scattered randomly throughout Franklin; instead, they will live in close proximity to keep the same sense of community, Chun said.
Though there are efforts to retain aspects of the residential college community, some feel that annex housing undermines the College’s promise of living in a residential college.
“Yale obviously prides itself on the fact that it has these residential colleges that provide you a community for four years, and your home, and your family,” said Jenna Van de Grift ‘21. “They don’t tell you that … you’re just not going to be able to live there when you’re a junior.”
Bhavesh Sayal ‘21 expressed concerns about a potential move to Franklin. He worried that the move would distance students from social activities happening on central campus.
That said, the move to Franklin has its benefits, including easier access to STEM classes, he added. Other students praised the nicer accommodations.
“We jumped at the opportunity,” Van de Grift said. “I think it’ll be fun to … be in a new environment and maybe meet some different people and experience a different part of Yale that we didn’t think we were going to experience.”
In the aftermath of the annex announcement, students were pleased with openness and honesty of how the administration communicated the updates, as administrators made information available as quickly as possible. Silliman administrators held an open meeting for all sophomores in which students could voice their concerns and brainstorm potential paths forward.
“We talked with the Dean’s Office about reducing our numbers of first years next year. We reconfigured lots of rooms to make more space. I even looked into feasibility of converting some of the bedrooms of my HoC house into new student rooms,” Santos wrote in an email to the News.
Both Santos and Chun, who want to encourage Sillimanders to stay on campus, are working together to find solutions for overcrowding. This news comes as more students move off campus and the administration has prioritized maintaining on-campus living.
Silliman College opened in 1940.
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