September 29, 2006

West Campus Initiative to Shut Down Transfer Center

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When the West Campus Residential Initiative razes the Class of 1917 Hall next summer, Cornell’s transfer students will be without a center. The Transfer Center program house, which has traditionally provided 200 undergraduates transferring to the University an opportunity to live together, will be eliminated in favor of smaller groupings.
Residence Hall Director Matthew McIntyre said, “As it stands, the program will be eliminated. Transfer students will be placed in groups of 30 in the five West Campus dorms, with on-campus housing accommodating 150 transfer students.”
McIntyre added, “Current students are concerned with the elimination, as no broader student services are available for transfer students that cover all colleges, such as the ones that exist for international students.”
Transfer students have begun to express disapproval of the program house’s closing. When David Crockett ’08, the transfer representative to the Student Assembly, recently began his campaign, he realized, “My platform was about caring about other people’s ideas. This [closing] is a really heated issue. We don’t expect to keep the same old building, but we want to keep the concept.”
Jonathan Yu ’09, who also transferred to Cornell this fall, wanted to keep the Transfer Center to promote the bonding of these new students and to increase their shared experience.
He said, “Coming into Cornell is pretty daunting. In the Transfer Center, it isn’t awkward going out in the halls. Everyone’s in the same situation. … It provides a transition similar to the one North Campus gives all freshmen.”
So what’s Crockett’s take on the prospect of transfer students living in smaller clusters?
“I heard the groupings might be done by major. I don’t want transfers segregated,” he said. “I’m an engineer who doesn’t want to live with just engineers.”
Keeping a transfer center could benefit the Cornell community, Crockett said.
“It’s a bonus for recruiting more transfer students. I know I was concerned about starting over in my junior year,” he explained. “Here, everyone’s readjusting to a new college.”
Nick Peone ’07, one of the center’s resident advisors, said, “The Transfer Center makes good economic sense. It has the highest retention rate on campus, there’s a waiting list every year, and it brings students to Cornell.”
Uncertain of the future of their community, this year’s Transfer Center occupants and ones from the recent past have begun a movement with the objective of saving their community, called the Transfer Center Revival Committee. An organizational meeting this week attracted more than 50 students.
The committee’s initiative impressed Peone.
“It’s amazing that they’ve only been living here for 30 days and they already feel so strongly about the center,” he said.
This Sunday night, a representative of the Undergraduate Residential Initiative will speak at the Transfer Center to discuss transfer students’ future options.