Many students and Housing and Residence Life (HRL) leaders agree that changes in on-campus housing are creating a more cohesive community for transfer students.
Up until the fall semester, new transfer students at Pepperdine were housed in Eden. Once Eden filled up, transfers were then dispersed throughout various dorms, including Towers, Seaside, Lovernich and Krown Alpha.
But this year, HRL is doing things a little differently. It has switched the transfer house from Eden to Krown Alpha and Krown Beta, thereby adding another house and doubling the number of students who can live in transfer dorms. While Eden could house only 48 students, Krown Alpha and Krown Beta can collectively house 96 students.
“Going through this together I think is going to create a bond that’s hard to break,” said Ashlee Phillips, junior Integrated Marketing Communication major and transfer student.
Phillips transferred to Pepperdine this Fall 2019 semester from Utah Valley University. She said her experience has been great so far, and she said she can’t imagine living anywhere else, without her fellow transfers.
Previous living situations for transfers
For years, Pepperdine has housed transfers together to provide these students with a community of people who have gone and are going through similar things.
“At some point there was a need seen for those transfer students to really come together as a cohort and to support each other and to network,” said Robin Gore, associate dean of Student Affairs and director of Housing Operations.
In recent years, Eden underwent renovations to become a house to support sustainability, said Phil Cho, associate director of Housing Occupancy and Systems. Originally, this project was started in hopes that students who were passionate about or interested in sustainability would decide to live there, but with not enough students signing up, it was decided that new transfer students would be placed in Eden.
Because the previous transfer dorm could not fit every new transfer, some transfers in past years were placed in random dorms with open spaces, and certain upperclassmen were even placed with freshmen.
Senior Journalism major Dani Masten experienced this when she transferred to Pepperdine in the spring of 2018. She said her experience in that dorm wasn’t great, and she ended up living at home and commuting to class every day, still paying for on-campus housing.
“It absolutely had an effect on my social life,” Masten said. “I didn’t make a lot of friends or make an effort to hang out on campus after my classes were over for the day because I knew I still had to drive home.”
Rei Watanabe, junior Screen Arts major, said she had a similar experience, not being placed in the transfer house.
“It was hard to meet people like me because no one I was housed with had gone through similar experiences to me,” Watanabe said. “Everyone was already in their routine and had their friend groups, so it was very alienating.”
Prior to fall 2019, nearly one-quarter of transfer students were not housed in the transfer dorm during their first semester at Pepperdine, according to a Pepp Post poll of 30 students.
New transfers’ thoughts on this change
This year, the new transfers have been placed in the dorms Krown Alpha and Krown Beta, allowing nearly all new transfers this fall to live in quite close proximity.
“Living with people that are going through the same things makes it easier to go through those things,” said Brenda Ascencio, sophomore Political Science and Sociology double major and transfer student.
Housing the new transfers together has been greatly beneficial, as it provides them with other people they can relate to — people who didn’t like the place they were at before and grew from their experience at that place, Ascencio said.
“It’s nice to be surrounded by people that are going through similar experiences, who can sympathize with you, be there for you, go to events with you and really understand what you’re going through,” said Ashlee Phillips, junior Integrated Marketing Communication major and suitemate of Ascencio.
While both of these transfers live in Krown Alpha, the dynamic between Krown Alpha and Krown Beta feels like one big house, not two separate houses, Phillips said.
“I feel like I have a family,” Phillips said.
Samanna Trinh, junior Integrated Marketing Communication major, agrees with Phillips. She said even though it’s early on, she feels like she’s known these people for so long and she doesn’t see the dynamic she has with her fellow transfers changing.
Since they are required to live on campus for their first year after transferring to Pepperdine, many of these students said they appreciate that they are housed together and not mixed in with the non-transfer students.
“We’re all a little bit older, so it’s nice not being mixed in with the freshmen,” said Lauren Callihan, a sophomore Business Administration major.
River Reyes, junior Screen Arts major, said he agreed with Callihan and doesn’t think he would have liked being housed with anyone else besides transfers.
“Getting that awkwardness out of the way with people who are also dealing with it kind of helps, as opposed to being thrown into a situation where everyone else is already comfortable and you feel like you’re the odd one out,” Reyes said.
While it’s likely that proximity isn’t the only reason for the closeness that exists between this group of transfers, Ascencio said it has contributed positively to their experience at Pepperdine and has made it a lot easier for them to be close friends.
Proximity as it translates to involvement
Since the beginning of this school year, a large number of new transfer students have already gotten quite involved on campus.
Additionally, it appears as though their proximity, due to living in Krown Alpha and Beta together, has contributed to their feeling more comfortable with each other, which has the potential to translate to confidence and motivation in their academic and social lives.
Ascencio is involved in SGA as a sophomore senator, and she is also a member of the sorority Tri Delta.
Phillips has also become involved in Greek life as a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, in addition to being a member of the KPOP dance team, Nutrition Club and the business fraternity on campus, Delta Sigma Pi.
Callihan is also involved in Greek life as a member of Alpha Phi, and has plans to study abroad next semester in Lausanne, Switzerland.
In addition to joining Greek Life, Patrick Harley, a junior Business Administration major and transfer student, started the new car club.
The Pepp Post poll found that 37% of transfer students believe that Greek life has been the biggest contributor to their successful integration into the Pepperdine community.
The poll also found that social life and academic rigor contribute the most to any negative experiences transfers have during their first semester at Pepperdine.
Future Transfer Students
In the future, it would be helpful for the RAs and SLAs of Krown Alpha and Krown Beta to also be transfer students, Harley said. Then they would better understand what the new transfers are going through, and in turn, they would have more suggestions as to how to ease their transition to Pepperdine.
While the intent of housing all transfers together is well thought out, it may be more beneficial for them to be housed with non-transfers in order to integrate them more quickly and easily into the already tight-knit Pepperdine culture, Harley said.
The Pepp Post poll found that more than half of new transfers find it difficult to integrate into the Pepperdine Community.
Ava Mungaray completed the reporting for this story under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Smith and Dr. Theresa de los Santos in Jour 241 in Fall 2019. Dr. Smith supervised the web story. Dr. de los Santos supervised the visual package.