“The North” welcomed a group of fresh faces this semester as the third full classes of Franklinites and PauliMurs moved into the new colleges.
Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray colleges were inaugurated into the University’s residential college system in 2017 to allow a 15 percent increase in the undergraduate population. This year, the colleges house 250 first-year students and 714 upper-class students, almost a 50 percent increase in upper-level student population from the colleges’ inaugural year.
One of the primary challenges the two new residential colleges has faced is creating a unique culture. While the other 12 residences have had decades to create traditions, like Rumbull in Trumbull, Trumbull’s annual fall festival, or the Saybrook Strip, when Saybrugians strip during the yearly football game against Harvard, the new colleges have had only three years. But new members of the Murray and Franklin communities do not seem daunted by the challenge. Renée Theodore ’23 told the News that she is excited by the possibility of creating new traditions and leaving her mark on Pauli Murray over the next four years.
“One of my favorite parts about being in Murray is the fact that we get to build the culture of the college in our time here,” Theodore said. “I have no idea what traditions I would create, but I’m looking forward to cultivating new ideas and culture here.”
Some students in the new colleges have started to leave their mark by painting murals in the shared basement. In 2017, the inaugural classes of Benjamin Franklin decorated the walls of their basement with a variety of Franklin-themed artworks including subject matter from namesake Benjamin Franklin to English chemist Rosalind Franklin who aided in the discovery of the structure of DNA. Pauli Murray’s inaugural classes were all invited to contribute to a four-paneled stretch of hallway by adding a painted handprint signed with their name and class year.
Other traditions in the colleges are growing naturally from the students themselves. Head of Pauli Murray Tina Lu cited one of her favorites: an annual birthday celebration at the first-year picnic.
“Things happen with serendipity,” Lu said. “During the first-year picnic with our first class a student had a birthday and their mom brought a cake. It so happened that in our second year we had four students with birthdays in that same week, so this year we bought a cake and we’re always going to have a cake for the birthdays [around the time of the picnic] from now on.”
While life in the new colleges has some advantages — creating a new culture and forming traditions — there are also some drawbacks: notably, the distance from the rest of the colleges and Old Campus.
Max Heimowitz ’23 described how the location of Benjamin Franklin adversely affects his ability to socialize with others outside his college.
“I have an identical twin brother living in Vanderbilt Hall on Old Campus,” Heimowitz said. “So if I want to see him, or if he wants to see me, it’s a bit of a trek to get from one place to the other just to say hello.”
The new colleges are located on Prospect Street, roughly one mile away from Old Campus.
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