College receives negative backlash from transfers put in temporary housing
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 15:09
Not everyone on campus was present for the panicked student leadership meetings this year. For those who were here, you probably remember the worried faces of the housing coordinators as they described an incoming class of unprecedented size. The numbers are quite shocking; Smith expected 640 first-years this year, and ended up with nearly 720. In total, 797 new students have come to Smith, leaving housing in a huge lurch.
Though Residence Life on campus has been working hard to manage its housing crisis, many students have been left by the wayside. A first-year class has been moved to Parsons House, which will be closing spring of 2014. Studies, living rooms and beau parlors have been turned into doubles. Ada Comstock scholars and upperclassmen are urged to live off campus if possible. No student can get away from the pressure of this huge incoming class – but none more so than the transfer students, who perhaps have the worst housing situation of any group of students.
A group of transfer students has been placed in housing at 44 Green Street, an area that has been used in the past for emergencies and quarantine housing. The house is not on campus but rather exists above an antique bookstore and the café at 40 Green Street. It is not in any way a normal Smith house – there is no real living room, there are meager laundry facilities and its furnishings are sparse at best. However, its physical shortcomings are nothing compared to its community. Students are not immersed in the Smith culture and must forge a community that is based on the mutual want of a Smith that cannot be obtained. Though told to enjoy the communities of Hubbard and Washburn houses, 44 Green Street has not been given access to these houses and must be at the mercy of the other houses' hospitality. There aren't even two ResLife positions in 44 Green Street, as if to emphasize its difference even in the eyes of housing coordinators. To sum it all up, transfers live in a very different house community from the rest of us.
It should not be a surprise to anyone that this will negatively affect the transfers' Smith experience. The community that they have come to Smith to enjoy does not exist, in part because of their resources in the housing they have been offered. They do not live with the usual mix of first-years, transfers and traditional students. They have no access to the usual resources of a permanent house and though they will be moved out as soon as possible, have no idea when or where this change will take place. Speaking with the transfers is saddening – they have stories of falling in love with Smith's campus and housing and being severely disappointed after finding they must live in quarantine housing.
Their distance from campus might not be great, but the transfers are separated in a very obvious way. Though there is little that housing can do for the transfers, other Smith students can make a huge difference. We should band together and help these students so they feel welcome by including them in our houses and communities so their separation is far less important than the friends they make. Transfers have made the decision to leave another college experience in order to come to Smith – we should do everything we can to make this experience better.