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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Opinion: Housing for transfer students is an afterthought

My housing experience made integrating into AU all the more difficult

From the Newsstands: This story appeared in The Eagle's April 2024 print edition. You can find the digital version here

About three months into my first year of college, I realized I was in the wrong place. It was heartbreaking. I spent all of high school daydreaming about college and how fantastic it would be, working tirelessly to get myself there — it felt like I’d done all that for nothing. 

I filled out transfer applications feeling pretty hopeless about the whole thing. I was accepted to a few other schools and eventually chose American University. I let myself feel excited about it despite all the uncertainty of the transfer process. As a first-year coming to a new school, everything is built for you. Coming from a less conventional path, like transferring, I knew it wouldn’t look quite the same, and I was worried I wouldn’t feel like a part of the AU community. That’s why I decided to live on campus. 

When I filled out my housing application, I noticed I was in the “transfer” category. Great, that means I’ll get sophomore housing or some kind of priority, right? I was a bit confused that I never filled out anything on roommate preferences like sleeping habits or cleanliness — which first-years generally do. I marked my preferred preference as Centennial Hall and felt confident I would get it because I wasn’t a first year. 

Imagine my surprise when I got my housing assignment, and it’s Letts Hall Terrace.

Letts is described on AU’s Housing website as a hall that houses only first-year and transfer students. This in itself is problematic. Why are transfer students, who are almost exclusively sophomores and juniors, given the same residential standing as freshmen? The only two halls listed with transfer student populations are Letts and McDowell, commonly accepted as the worst halls on campus — and the most out-of-date. Why allow transfer students to mark their first choices, knowing they will be placed in the least desired ones? 

It left me feeling like an afterthought. The two all-transfer floors are Letts Terrace and one floor on McDowell and it felt isolating to be stuck in such an undesirable space. 

Ruth Ghebremicael, a second-year transfer student, described to me feeling “alone in the process” of housing and as if “[transfer students] got whatever the leftovers were.” 

It’s difficult and isolating enough to transfer to a new university, and having the least desirable living spaces on campus only aggravates this issue, making transfers feel even more cold-shouldered. I’m glad I ended up at American, and if I could go back in time, I would come here again, but that doesn’t absolve the University of any wrongdoing — or mean some of my fellow transfers don’t feel differently. 

AU ought to offer transfer students a wider variety of availability in residence halls throughout campus instead of isolating them in all-freshman living spaces. More than anything, though, AU should be clear with transfer students about what their housing will look like.   

Julia R. Cooper is a sophomore in the School of International Service and a columnist for The Eagle.

This article was edited by Alana Parker, Jelinda Montes and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis, Sarah Clayton, Ariana Kavoossi and Romy Hermans.

opinion@theeagleonline.com


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