Opinion: New College Proposal Separates Transfer Students from Student Body

Unsightly and seemingly never-ending construction has quickly become a staple of UC San Diego, from academic structures like the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society to art pieces like “What Hath God Wrought”. The development of the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Community is no different. The ambitious project is projected to be completed in 2020 and has already been met with extensive opposition from both students as well as La Jolla residents. Originally planned to house transfer students, the infrastructure will not only further estrange transfer students from the rest of the student body but also expose the lack of transfer resources here on campus.

Despite the unique sustainable design, the fact that the construction itself temporarily wiped out over 900 parking spots was an immediate warning to many students. It is also condensed into an area of North Torrey Pines Road that is a significant entrance into campus and a main source of traffic to La Jolla residents. Several local residents are developing a platform against the development program, complaining of both overcrowding and traffic issues. In an attempt to elicit undergraduate input, the development committee enlisted the use of a task force given the responsibility to develop the slogan, objectives, and focuses for the new college.

In the original meeting of the Planning Task Force, the students reported their consideration to create the new institution solely for transfer students. The action is precedented by the desire to surround transfers with a unified community and to develop a centralized college with resources and support for transition. The exact goal of the proposition was to prepare transfer students for graduation the moment they arrived on campus.

However, the movement of all transfers into one singular area only promotes their alienation from the rest of the student body by separating them from non-transfer students who possess a better knowledge of campus resources and events. It is no secret that UCSD has not prioritized the transfer experience in the last several years. In 2017, the university offered money to transfers to move off campus in an attempt to remedy the on-campus housing crisis. Transfer students already face a difficult challenge: they have three or less years to develop relationships with professors, find recommendation letters, get involved on campus, and prepare for life post-graduation. It would be a disservice to further estrange the transfer population from the rest of the student body, so the future Seventh College should remain a traditional college for planning purposes.

UCSD’s undergraduate population clocks in at over 26,000 students, and 32 percent of that figure is comprised of transfer students. Shockingly, the school boasts little to no resources allocated to transfer students alone; the decentralization empowered by the college system moves the responsibility for transfer advising and resources to each college. However, most transfers don’t live anywhere near their college of enrollment and advising centers. The majority live in The Village at Torrey Pines on the north end of campus, disassociated from both their college and the rest of the student body.

Instead of creating housing or a college solely for transfer students, the university must develop a centralized transfer resource center that extends past each college’s system of handling transfers. By doing so, UCSD will not only alleviate the college’s responsibility to provide transfers with complete advising resources, but also highlight the fact that the university prioritizes the needs and goals of their transfer students.

This measure will also put UCSD on par with other University of California schools; UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Berkeley both boast transfer student centers and resources allocated solely for their transfer students. And with no surprise — these schools have the highest two-year transfer graduation and retention rates among the UC System, surpassing UCSD by nearly 10 percent.

Regardless whether or not NTPLLC will be an institution solely for transfer students, college housing for transfers only will further alienate those students from the student body and make it increasingly difficult to develop relationships and student adjustment in UCSD culture. However, the discussion has brought to light the need for transfer inclusion and support here on campus, and the steps that must be taken to ensure that transfer students leave with the resources and education that they came for.