Throughout my undergraduate period, I never knew the student union. I am active in many different fields on campus, but when I graduated, I thought that transfer students were not eligible for a student council position. -Jamal

In the two years of community college, I held leadership positions. When I transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, I asked student leaders how to participate. I have only one choice: the transfer representative. If I had followed this advice, I would not be where I am today. –Alexis

Higher education needs the voice of students. At the University of California where we studied, students took the lead in advocating basic needs; students promoted initiatives such as reforming campus police and banning standardized tests as admission requirements. Whether in a campus or in the entire system, students have proven the value of their expertise, experience and enthusiasm.

However, transfer students are often excluded from governance and advocacy discussions. For example, at the University of California, transfers account for one-third of the number of students. Unfortunately, very few community college transfer students are encouraged-or even allowed-to participate in this kind of high-level leadership. For all students, we need to change this situation.

The time expectation of transfer students to obtain degrees means that we spend less time on campus than traditional students. In short, we spend less time exploring and accidentally discovering campus resources and opportunities. In the first semester of our new campus, some of us did not get the GPA required for the activity qualification (according to the policy, the GPA is 0.0 when the transfer student enrolls), or we do not have time to organize year after year. A common self-evident assumption is that the process of promotion to leadership should take several years: the first year of the student may be spent in a general institution; the second year, a person can serve as committee chairperson or other official. Under this model, after two years of service, students may consider running for the position of head of a local, system-wide, or statewide agency. This is assuming that they found the right organization in the first year!

But what about transfer students? Do we think that tolerating transfer students is essential to our mission?

Two questions arise: How can transfer students get the leadership opportunities available to them? Does the environment discourage transfer students from participating? The answer to the first question is structural and must be solved by campus leaders. The second question is culture; students need to solve this problem. Here are some realistic steps that can create a fairer place in governance for transfer students.

Suggestions for faculty/staff/administrative department:

  • include Campus resources and opportunities to enter class time
    • Arrange class time and even classwork to provide opportunities for transfer students, especially in class to recognize transfer students and encourage them to participate.
  • There is a transfer student orientation (this is very important!)
    • Provide opportunities for local, system-wide, and state leaders to transfer students in this orientation event.

Suggestions for student organizations:

  • Encourage and develop transfer students’ expertise in all fields, not just those related to transfer experience
  • Contact transfer students; encourage them to prepare and apply for a wide range of positions
    • Avoid only downgrading transfer students to transfer seats in student government agencies
  • Consider the historical pipeline of leadership positions, and make changes around the timetable and requirements, so that our organization has entered an era where transfer students are valued

Transfer students bring a wealth of skills to the campus. These skills may or may not be related to our transfer journey. Ignoring the structural and cultural barriers to including transfer students into governance creates fairness issues, because transfer students are more likely to be people of color, veterans, and parents; we are more likely to keep jobs. When the structure and culture of student management meaningfully include transfer students, our higher education system will also change.

Jamaal Muwwakkil is a PhD. Candidate for the University of California, Santa Barbara, and serves as the student director of the University of California. Alexis Atsilvsgi Zaragoza is a second-year transfer student at the University of California, Berkeley and serves as the student director of the University of California. Their tenure marked the first time in the history of the University of California that both student directors were transfer students.


Source link

Leave a Reply