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Five colleges lack common room furniture, raising equity concerns



Yale Daily News

Some common rooms in the Residential University Suites are fully furnished with bookshelves, chairs, and sofas.

Others come empty. Five of the fourteen residential colleges – Berkeley, Davenport, Grace Hopper, Jonathan Edwards and Pierson Colleges – do not provide common room furniture to students, which students living in these colleges say can be a significant financial burden.

“All the cost and energy we spent on furniture is ridiculous when you realize it’s a problem that not all colleges and students face despite being charged for the same room and the same pension,” Davenport student Nyakera Ogora ’24 told The News.

These five colleges are expected to receive common room furniture for their suites over the next two to three years, Morse College Principal Catherine Panter-Brick told The News. Panter-Brick is also chairman of the Council of College Leaders.

In the past, Panter-Brick explained, students at all colleges provided their own common space furniture and had summer storage space for it. Panter-Brick said she doesn’t know how administrators choose which colleges get common room furniture first.

Senior Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Communications at Yale College, Paul McKinley, wrote to the News that furniture at all colleges is paid for from the university’s capital projects budget, adding that the goal to long term was to provide common room furniture to all student suites. . McKinley wrote that furniture was first provided on the old campus and Silliman and Timothy Dwight’s suites assigned to the first years. Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray received common room furniture when they opened.

The original decision to provide furniture was intended to address “equity issues in colleges,” according to Panter-Brick, who explained that each of the colleges had varying summer storage options. However, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented all colleges from immediately receiving furniture, she said.

McKinley wrote that these disruptions were caused by the suspension of all construction in the summer of 2020 and the breakdown of supply chains. He also wrote that there was an added complication of the initial planning due to the need to provide furniture for the suites used to house the first years at the four additional residential colleges, including Morse, Saybrook, Branford and Davenport, in addition to Silliman, Timothy Dwight. , Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray during the 2021-2022 school year.

“A lot of disruption is easing now and the schedule is getting back on track,” McKinley wrote to the News.

The News spoke to seven students from the five colleges who don’t have common space furniture. Everyone expressed concern about the cost of acquiring, storing and moving their own furniture.

For most students, the main issue with having to provide their own furniture was the cost.

Ashley Reyes ’25, who is at Pierson, told The News that not receiving common room furniture was largely a financial issue because all but one of the members in her suite are low-income first-generation college students.

“Furniture is very expensive and it’s just not something we account for,” Reyes told The News.

Reyes said she and her roommates had bought used furniture, but weren’t sure it would be sanitary. She also mentioned the tedious process of transporting furniture and the need to limit their furniture to what would fit in a car.

William Hin ’25, who also lives in Pierson, told the News that having to furnish his suite was “certainly a financial burden”. Considering transportation costs on top of the cost of the furniture itself, Hin said getting furniture overall was “costs on top of fees on top of fees.”

Other students also agreed that buying furniture creates an additional financial burden.

“As an FGLI student, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to contribute to my suite’s furniture fund, but luckily my suite was very resourceful and found a way to avoid having to spend money on furniture,” Joanna Ruiz ’25, who is in Jonathan Edwards, wrote to the News.

Ruiz said his housemates found free furniture at various outlets like Craigslist and rescued items from a dumpster, borrowing a car to move the furniture. However, Ruiz added that his suite was “very lucky” because trying to get furniture would have been a “bigger burden” if they didn’t live on the first floor.

Ogora, who is in Davenport, also wrote to the News that finding furniture and transporting it was “very frustrating” and “soured” the relationship between the students and their residential college.

Ellie Barlow ’25, who is at Grace Hopper, also found buying furniture difficult and expensive for her and her housemates.

“Even to buy for free and for sale [on Facebook] is expensive and when you are already paying a lot of fees, it seems very unjustified to have to spend so much,” Barlow wrote to the News.

Karley Yung ’25, who lives in Berkeley, said her suite was still in the process of getting furniture, but they had to take time during their summer and school year to find the furniture they had.

In addition to the cost of furniture and the time it takes to move it, students also expressed frustration with the impact of the policy on the social community within the colleges.

“It is particularly hypocritical that we are supposed to form bonds and friendships within our college in these shared spaces because, without a comfortable common room with seating, it is almost impossible,” Ogora wrote to the News.

Reyes agreed, adding that the disparity in furnishings between colleges “keeps people away” from unfurnished suites and “isolates students.”

According to Panter-Brick, students also expressed concern about having to put their furniture away, which prompted the decision to provide furniture in the first place.

Berkeley College principal David Evans ’92 wrote to the News that he looks forward to when furniture can be provided to the college. For now, Berkeley allows students to store a limited number of labeled furniture in the following year’s suite, saving the cost of finding storage.

Ari Essunfeld ’24, who is at Grace Hopper, described the storage search as “super tricky.”

Panter-Brick said colleges still need to consider storing personal items as Yale-issued furniture becomes standardized across colleges, explaining that storage systems vary widely from college to college.

“It’s a big deal, just in the summer when you’re taking exams and then you have to move and then you have to put things away,” Panter-Brick said.

The first seven residential colleges were opened on September 25, 1933.




SARAH COOK




Sarah Cook covers politics and student affairs, and she previously covered President Salovey’s Cabinet. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she is a freshman at Grace Hopper majoring in neuroscience.



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