In early July, Cornell informed incoming transfer student Eitan Wolf ’21 that he would be placed in a temporary quintuple in a converted study lounge in a North Campus dorm.
Weeks later, Wolf was assigned to a different but permanent housing: Schuyler House, a dorm that is nearly a mile away from Central Campus. He said that Schuyler has “come with its share of difficulties.”
“You’re just so isolated,” Wolf, who transferred from Oregon State University after his freshman year, told The Sun. “It’s the furthest thing from being on-campus, and so it makes it difficult just to get to and from school. It makes it difficult to participate in extracurriculars.”
Wolf is one of the transfer students who live either off-campus or in an on-campus residence that is far from central campus. Cornell guarantees freshmen on-campus housing, but does not guarantee housing for transfer students, according to Karen Brown, director of Campus Life Marketing and Communications.
This year, transfer students were not notified of whether Cornell would provide them with on-campus housing until June 22, which meant that some students had to find a place to live in Ithaca about two months before the semester started.
The reason for the late notification, Brown explained, was because some transfers are admitted during “the summer months,” and they have up to 10 days after receiving their acceptance to apply for housing.
The University explained that it was unable to offer transfer students housing on-campus because the incoming class of transfers was “unusually large,” so there was an “overwhelming demand” for housing, according to a June 22 email sent to incoming transfers by Kristen M.E. Lomparco, associate director of the Office of Residential and Events Services, which was obtained by The Sun.
“I think housing is … one of the biggest if not the biggest issue for transfer students,” said Catherine Huang ’21, Student Assembly transfer representative.
The email also stated that the University had given as many transfers housing as was available at the time, and that they would do their “best” to offer the remaining students on-campus housing “if [they] are able based on availability over the next four weeks.” Lomparco also recommended that students “pursue off-campus housing options at this time.”
The number of transfer students enrolling at Cornell has increased from 613 in fall of 2017 to 645 in fall of 2018, which led to 38 more transfer housing applications being submitted this year, according to Brown.
Transfer student Lauren Jung ’21 said she was “very nervous” about living off-campus, because she felt “vulnerable” as a transfer student. She also has not enjoyed the distance and Ithaca’s terrain, as she has to walk uphill from her apartment to campus.
Originally from Illinois, Jung said living off-campus has also affected her ability to socialize. She said going out is “hard” because all of her friends live on west campus, and she has to walk there to join them.
Wolf, who lives in Schuyler, shares the same concern. Because he lives far from campus, he only has a 7-meal-per-week meal plan, which sometimes prohibits him from being with his friends who eat on West. The commute isn’t helping him either: the TCAT stop outside Schuyler House is currently closed, so it “takes a lot longer to get to class,” he told The Sun.
“I think it just sort of places a huge burden,” he said. “People who have been at the school I think would do better at Schuyler — a situation where they know how to get around. But it was so, so, so hard having to learn how to navigate everything around Cornell’s community, on top of housing and transportation and everything.”
Housing availability for transfers was impacted by both the “exceptionally high demand for housing” among first-year and transfer students this year and the demand for housing among returning students during General Room Selection in the spring, Brown said.
In the June 22 email to students that were not offered housing on-campus, Loparco said housing availability “could mean” being placed in a quintuple in a North Campus dorm. In the past, Cornell has placed students into dorm lounges converted into bedrooms.
However, Cornell was ultimately able to “arrange for traditional accommodations” for these students before they moved onto campus, so they did not end up living in the temporary rooms, Brown said. Some of the people that were not offered housing in June were later assigned permanent or temporary housing in July, she said.
Some students were ultimately placed in the west campus residence halls, which are home to a large transfer community, or in other dorms, such as Schuyler House.
Gracie Lu ’21, a transfer student who lives in an apartment on College Ave., said that Cornell could “definitely do a better job” at finding housing arrangements for transfers off-campus.
She also suggested that the University tell the students who they would have lived with in a dorm, so they could potentially find an apartment with them, adding that finding roommates to live with off-campus was the most stressful part.
“Finding like two other girls or people that I would live compatibly with within a span of like three days is just not the best situation,” she said. “It was very, very quick, which I sort of regret, because I feel like you definitely have to talk to someone for maybe like a week before you’re like, ‘You know what, I’m going to live with you for a year.’”