March 25, 2022
Last February 25, the Badge Project and the Transfer Student Alliance (TSA) hosted the Transfer Town Hall: Creating a Transfer Receptive Culture at CSUN. With over a hundred guests in attendance, this event marked CSUN’s first ever town hall relating to the transfer experience.
The Badge Project is an initiative at the Health Equity Research and Education (HERE) Center that aims to support transfer students, specifically STEM transfer students, in professional development, research resources, and community building through workshops and peer mentorship. The Transfer Student Alliance was found in 2020 by former Badge students to establish more centralized support for transfer students.
Santiago Bernal, assistant director at UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships (CCCP) kicked off the event as the keynote speaker. Bernal discussed the tenets of transfer-receptive culture (TRC) and the roles of institutions in upholding TRC.
According to “Power to the Transfer: Critical Race Theory and a Transfer Receptive Culture” a book that Bernal co-authored with Alfred Herrera and Dimpal Jain, a transfer-receptive culture is defined as an institutional commitment by a four-year college or university to provide the support needed for transfer students to transfer successfully.
“We [also] have to provide that framework that not only thinks about success in the terms of academic achievement, but also [looks at] at [the cost] of that achievement in terms of money and the wellbeing of the students we work with,” Bernal said.
Bernal also spoke about how TRC manifests in particular spaces and the importance of educators in integrating TRC into campus.
“At CSUN, more than half the students are transfer students, so to not include the transfer experience in the CSUN culture is to ignore half of the reality of the students at the campus,” Bernal stated.
Transfer student panelists Joseluz Sosa, Kaylee Josefina, Lindsey Anne Macaraig, Dianna Alvarado, Jessica Hernandez and Jessica Pacheco shared their experiences and struggles navigating campus as transfer students. One aspect in focus during the transfer student panel was the New Transfer Student Orientation, a CSUN-led orientation aimed at helping transfer students understand college expectations and familiarize themselves campus resources.
“It was mostly just general information,” Hernandez said. “For example, how to go on Matasync to join student organizations and clubs. They told us about Matasync, but not how to navigate it. There was a common theme where things would be thrown out there, but it was very generalized information.”
Another theme within the panel was the lack of specialized support transfer students received from CSUN.
“I really feel like as a transfer student, I didn’t get any information that was specific to me. You kind of just disappeared among all the first-year students—which, you know, we’re not the same,” Sosa said.
The transfer student panelists also highlighted the importance of having transfer-specific academic resources for transfer students.
“We don’t have academic advisors for transfers. We’re just pooled with the rest of the students’ academic advisors.” said Ashley Kuhnley, president of TSA.
A panel of CSUN transfer agents, who are faculty and staff that are invested in transfer student success, also detailed the steps they would take to make CSUN more transfer-receptive.
“I think we as a university need to learn more about transfer students and what their challenges are, what their barriers are, what their needs are—that’s step one,” said Kim Henige, director of Academic First Year Experiences. “I’d love to see faculty development have workshops for staff and faculty just to learn about these things.”
They also detailed their suggestions to other transfer units on campus.
“For my advice, I would say not to assume all transfer students do not need certain services,” said Shiva Parsa, senior director of the Educational Opportunity Program at CSUN. “Sometimes there is a mindset that transfer students do not need transitional help and access to resources.”
Parsa emphasized the importance of helping students navigate resources rather than just telling students about them.
The transfer agents also discussed their experiences with their service areas and how to better advocate transfer student needs.
“[Even though] [the Badge Project] can’t really support transfer students with their credits or change their time at CSUN, we can inform them of the hidden curriculum,” said Veronica Villaseñor, STEM transfer program manager at the Badge Project.
According to the Glossary of Education Reform, the hidden curriculum refers to the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives that students learn in school.
“We can support them in identifying how they’re going to be reaching their goals and directing them to the proper resources in reaching their goals,” Villaseñor said.
The Transfer Town Hall ended with a call for the establishment of a transfer center to ease the burden on transfer students as they navigate the campus and provide a centralized space for transfer students to find resources and build community. Dimpal Jain, associate professor within the department of educational leadership and policy studies, echoed this sentiment.
“I think we just found out in this town hall that there’s such a lack of clarity about what’s happening at CSUN around transfers,” Jain said. “[There is a] call for a collective, communal space where information is all held at a one-stop space where we can get transfer questions and transfer needs met.”
Overall, the event advocated for changes to be made on campus, specifically, for CSUN to celebrate and support the transfer identity.
“In order for some things to change, we have to demand change, and I see this event today as that demand,” Bernal said. “This town hall is the demand to change for transfer students.”