Starting out at a new university as a transfer student can be daunting on many levels. There is the risk of getting to feel out of step with your peers, the majority of whom matriculated as freshmen; and there are practical worries too, like figuring out where to live. In as tight a housing market as Davis, this can be challenging.
Fortunately, first-year transfers to UC Davis are guaranteed housing through Student Housing Apartments (SHA), a Student Housing and Dining Services program that started in 2009. Now with the university’s recent groundbreaking on The Green at West Village, a campus apartment project that will house up to 3,300 students, transfers will have a chance to develop a deeper sense of community and belonging at UC Davis.
When it started, SHA offered just under 200 beds to incoming transfer students. Over the ensuing 10 years that capacity grew by 550 percent, and the 2019–20 academic year marks the first time the program has been able to provide housing to a small population of second-year transfer students as well. SHA places these students in six relatively spread-out apartment complexes— three on campus (Primero Grove, The Colleges at La Rue and The Ramble at West Village) and three off campus (Adobe at Evergreen, Arlington Farm and The Lexington). The expansion of West Village will see this model change dramatically over the next two years.
The university envisages The Green at West Village as providing housing primarily for transfer students and continuing undergraduates. For the first time, incoming first-year transfers will all live together, and a greater number will have the opportunity to be housed for a second year through the program. This will allow SHA to end its agreement with five of the six apartment complexes where it currently places transfers. “While we have done our best to build the program around multiple apartment communities, having [transfer students] in one place will provide more opportunities for programming and engagement,” said Faye Perata, assistant director for Residential Services.
“This is going to help them to create a community so they can connect with each other and the community,” said Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Emily Galindo at the groundbreaking in February. Details like moveable furniture in communal and gaming spaces are also intended to encourage community-building at the new development; residents will have the chance to rearrange and “create” their shared spaces together.
When they arrive at UC Davis, transfers have to hit the ground running to complete all the requirements of their major while simultaneously exploring what student life has to offer them. The latter is important—because they’re joining the campus community mid-stream to the traditional four-year chronology, finding a sense of belonging can be an uphill battle for transfers. The Transfer and Reentry Center offers many services to aid in this transition, and the SHA’s guarantee of housing for first-year transfers alleviates the stress of finding a place to live in Davis.
The first 1,000 beds at The Green at West Village will come online in fall 2020, and by the time construction is completed in fall 2021, the first-year transfer students who live there, along with many second-years, will have an even better opportunity to build community and be successful at their new university. The development should also help alleviate rental increase pressure in Davis by increasing supply. Looking ahead, the university’s Long Range Development Plan calls for adding a total of 9,050 student beds and housing 100 percent of increases in student enrollment.