Transfer students are close to securing a floor in the high rises for incoming transfers next year.
Designating a floor specifically for transfer students has been a goal of the Transfer Student Organization for years. Now, following a collaboration with the Undergraduate Assembly, TSO is in the final stages of confirming that transfer students will be able to occupy the entire 11th floor of Rodin College House beginning in 2022.
TSO Executive Vice President and College senior Sarah Chowdhury said that TSO will submit its application for the floor to College Housing and Academic Services later this month, which they expect to be approved after working with CHAS, which has supported the effort.
Transfer students are required to live on campus during their first year at Penn. Chowdhury said that while transfer housing communities currently exist in Gregory College House and Stouffer College House, these floors are not made up entirely of transfer students.
Chowdhury added that the 11th floor Rodin transfer community would help provide incoming transfer students with a greater sense of community by having a floor made up entirely of incoming transfers to mirror the experience first years have. She added that an all-transfer floor would also allow the floor's RA or GA to gear programming towards the transfer experience.
“Transfers are kind of thrown into housing all over the place,” College senior and TSO Co-President Lexi Brauer said.
The establishment of a floor only for transfers would also give transfer students a dedicated space to gather and hold events. Brauer said that TSO has discussed holding transfer student events in the 11th floor Rodin lounge.
Brauer said that when she transferred to Penn as a sophomore, the floor had already been a longstanding issue helmed by TSO. In 2020, the UA’s first transfer student representative said he wanted to push for a transfer-only residential floor.
The added involvement and advocacy of the UA helped TSO secure the floor, Brauer said.
“Because of the UA, we're able to get the administration to listen and get meetings with people that we weren't able to get meetings with beforehand,” Brauer said.
Brauer added that Rodin House Director Kathryn McDonald also helped with the effort. McDonald declined to comment.
College senior and UA Associate Member Regan Mizrahi said he started working on the project for the UA as a sophomore while serving on the Residential Services Advisory Board.
“I noticed very quickly that there was a big mismatch between transfer students’ housing needs and the administrative support given,” Mizrahi said.
Mizrahi said that the UA’s role in this project has been supporting TSO by listening to its requests for the floor and scheduling meetings with the administration to lobby for the effort. He added that in the past year, the UA and TSO have collected feedback from transfer students to present to the administration to show that despite the existing communities in Gregory and Stouffer, there is a real need for a transfer-only floor, which he said helped secure the administration’s approval.
While Chowdhury acknowledged that the 11th floor of Rodin can only hold approximately 30 students, whereas each transfer class consists of 120 to 150 students, she said that if this program is successful, Residential Services has expressed interest in possibly expanding to other floors.
“This would just enable the transfers to have one main community space on campus,” Brauer said.