For transfers, home is where the vacancies are

By
Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When Grace Jun ’11, a spring transfer, arrived at her new room in Slater Hall, she found it already occupied. “It looked like a double, but two people already lived there,” Jun said.

Jun went to the Office of Residential Life to clear up the confusion, and was told there had been a mistake. The woman working at ResLife “had no idea where to put me,” Jun said.

Transfers who arrive in either semester are accommodated wherever there is room. In the fall, transfers are placed in the pool of students who were not assigned housing in the lottery, said Natalie Basil, associate director of ResLife. Spring transfers fill rooms that become vacant after students leave to study abroad or take time off.

Basil said that whenever possible, ResLife tries to pair transfers with other transfers and with students of the same semester level to ease their transition to Brown.

Not all are so lucky. Jun was given a room on a mostly graduate-student floor on Pembroke campus. Not only were there no other transfers on the floor, there were not even any sophomores.

“It used to be awkward at first, but I got used to it,” Jun said. “At the same time, I felt like I was missing on the hall atmosphere.”

For some transfers, living with returning students has worked out. “It’s really nice to have someone who ‘knows the ropes,’ ” Alexandra Gilbert-Bono ’11 wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. But when Gilbert-Bono transferred this semester from Swarthmore College, her new roommate was not notified that someone else would be moving in.

“She first thought she had walked into the wrong room, and then she was just shocked,” Gilbert-Bono wrote in her e-mail. “She was really nice, just surprised to see another person in her room.”

Though there were snags in transfer housing this spring, these problems were not necessarily unique to transfers, according to Basil. Any student who did not live on campus last semester – including transfers, students who studied abroad and students who took a leave of absence – could have experienced similar issues.

In the past, fall transfers have had worse housing placements than the spring transfers, Chelsea Harris ’09, who transferred in the fall of 2007 and is now a transfer coordinator, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. Priority for unfilled rooms goes to incoming first-years and returning students who participated in the housing lottery but did not select rooms, according to Harris.

According to Basil, the quality of housing for spring and fall transfers is similar and depends on which rooms are vacant.

Some transfers have found these assignments, which are often scraped from the bottom of the barrel, less than ideal.

Melea Atkins ’10 moved into a triple in Keeney Quadrangle when she transferred in fall 2007. “Things were pretty bad,” she said.

The triple aside, being in a dorm with mostly freshmen was sometimes uncomfortable. “You come in already having done freshman year. You come in at a very different place than the other freshmen,” Atkins said.

When Harris first came to Brown, she lived on the first floor of Minden Hall with another transfer. A non-transfer lived in a single across the hall.

“The roommate situation actually proved to be a really nice combination because I had another person who was just as desperate not to eat meals alone, and eager to meet people, and then someone who knew how Brown worked,” Harris wrote.

When Jun was asked if she would move out of graduate-student housing if given the chance, she said she wouldn’t.

“In the end, it worked out,” she said.