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Student leaders call on UCLA to increase funds for transfer student admit weekends

Student hand out UCLA merchandise and flyers at a 2022 transfer student welcome event. Student leaders voiced concern about the amount of university funding available for transfer student admit events, particularly for marginalized student communities. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Dylan Winward

April 21, 2023 12:06 p.m.

Student leaders are calling upon UCLA to provide improved funding for transfer students, particularly through admit weekends for marginalized student communities.

Welcome weekends are aimed at increasing the number of students who accept UCLA offers of admission. Admit weekend events are often held by organizations representing students from marginalized communities, especially groups within the Mother Organizations coalition, which includes organizations such as the Afrikan Student Union and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o/x de Aztlán de UCLA. The events they host are often promoted by UCLA Admissions, with funding provided by both the university administration and the Undergraduate Students Association Council.

Students across a variety of organizations advocated that USAC surplus funding be used for transfer student admit programs during the public comment section of the March 7 USAC meeting. At that meeting, the USAC Transfer Student Representative Thyra Cobbs was allocated funding for six $10,000 grants, which went to each transfer welcome weekend.

Samone Anderson, a former chairperson of UCLA’s Afrikan Student Union, said in a public comment she felt transfer student admit programs were severely underfunded.

Ryan Factora, a board member of Samahang Pilipino, another MO coalition member, added during public comment that he felt having USAC funding allocated for transfer students was important because of the unique difficulties transfer students face when transitioning to UCLA.

“The transfer community at UCLA faces unique community conditions due to structural contradictions in the university system,” Factora, a third-year human biology and society student, said in the public comment. “As such we wholeheartedly support the TSR Surplus proposal since it will uplift transfer needs and advocacy.”

The Vietnamese Student Union, the Pilipino Transfer Student Partnership and the Afrikan Student Union did not respond to requests for comment.

Cobbs, a fourth-year African American studies and history student, said in an interview that there isn’t enough attention given to transfer students by the university. She said in the USAC meeting that she felt institutional support for transfer students has been insufficient since her appointment in January, with the administration lacking intentionality in its existing support.

The administration attempted to convince Cobbs to fund transfer student admit programs with her allocated USAC budget, but she felt that the administration should be funding them directly, she said.

In an emailed statement, UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said UCLA supports the transfer student programs by advertising them on the admissions portal and by allocating them more than $55,000 in funding annually. That is about half of what the university spends on admit programs for incoming first-year students, he added.

Cobbs said that overnight accommodation for admit weekends, which UCLA had withdrawn, was important in allowing students from marginalized communities to get a sense of the campus. Vazquez said the decision not to offer overnight accommodations this year was made after a team of campus stakeholders concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic and limited volunteering capacity would make it unfeasible.

However, Cobbs maintained that there was more that administrators could do to ensure funding for transfer student welcome weekends. She said with the university providing inadequate support for these events, it fell on the student government to make up the shortfall.

Welcoming transfer students from marginalized communities is an important part of ensuring that transfer students feel welcome when arriving at UCLA, said Rita Keushkerian, a third-year sociology student. As a transfer student herself, she said that she has been involved in planning the first Armenian Students’ Association welcome weekend to welcome transfer students.

“Being Armenian and a transfer is a big part of who I am,” she said. “If we have an Armenian transfer program, you’re able to find people who identify with those two major characteristics and you get to bond with them directly.”

Other student organizations, including those in the MO coalition, are also adjusting to the amount of funding they received in scheduling their welcome weekend events. One such program, the MEChA de UCLA’s Latinx Transfer Day, helps transfer students from Latinx communities transition into UCLA more easily by giving them access to important campus resources. This transition can be difficult for students, especially those coming from outside Southern California, said Cristian Ruiz, the transfer day chair for the organization, which aims to promote Latinx students’ education, culture and history. He added that he felt UCLA often caters toward first-year admits instead of giving equal access to transfer students.

“I think it’s important for Latinx transfer students to be able to identify other Latinx community groups and organizations,” said Ruiz, a fourth-year English student. “It’s also important for them, especially from coming from a CC (community college) or another four-year (college), to get that time to transition into UCLA.”

Cobbs said taking money out of the USAC surplus for transfer students was not a perfect solution to funding these programs long term, preferring instead to propose a referendum. She said the amount of money her office was given was inadequate to pay staff, and as a result, she had to fight with other competing interests on the council to fund programming for transfer students. She added that she plans to campaign to increase the TSR budget in the future to avoid having to request surplus funds.

“Genuinely, USAC does not give a lot of funding for transfer students,” she said.

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Dylan Winward | News editor
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
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