by Samantha Ewing ‘23 (she/her)
When I applied to transfer to Davidson in March 2020, I knew that I was jumping into a series of unknowns. Would Davidson be housing students on campus? Would there be in-person classes? What would meeting people look like? Like many other transfer students, I was well aware of the risk I was taking by switching to a new school during such an unprecedented time. In fact, it was these conditions that led me to seek a community-oriented school. Having come from the University of Georgia — a school with almost 30,000 undergraduate students — I had been treated as a number for most of my college experience. The hope of being known as a valued member of the community was perhaps the most compelling reason I ended up at Davidson. However, the Davidson College administration has regrettably demonstrated a negligent attitude towards its transfers this year.
One shared experience among the transfers was the sense of unwelcome on campus upon our arrival in August. Transfer students are required to move in early to undergo orientation with the freshmen. When I arrived on campus, no one knew I was coming — despite the fact that the school had assigned me a move-in date. There were no directions available to Chidsey or Sentelle, likely due to the fact that the school had not communicated that transfers would be arriving that day. I was sent off with verbal instructions to the Chidsey parking lot with no information on how to get my room key or Cat Card. When I finally managed to get into my room, there was trash on the floor and an old fridge with my furniture. Nothing had been cleaned or prepared for my arrival; it seemed as though they had no idea I was coming at all.
The Residence Life Office (RLO) also made it clear early on that their stance towards transfer students falls in line with ‘beggars can’t be choosers.’ The admissions decision deadline was in June, so we were all jumping into the housing process late. While we each had a survey about our lifestyles and living habits to complete, RLO did not provide an outlet to express building or roommate preferences. This failure to anticipate our needs as transfers was particularly upsetting for one of my friends who wanted a roommate to facilitate her acclimation to the Davidson community. I was lucky enough to have a roommate who introduced me to her friends and helped me learn the ins and outs of Davidson life. Meanwhile, most of the transfer students were left roommate-less, having only each other to connect with for the first few weeks.
During orientation week, the transfer students were put into one Orientation Team group and underwent all of the same activities as the freshmen — many of which were helpful since after all, we were new students. However, sometimes the transfers were grouped in with the freshmen and went unacknowledged. One example of this was a mandatory welcome video we watched in our orientation groups. The transfers had to sit through a video compilation of different members of the Davidson community holding up signs that read “Welcome Class of 2024!” Each of us is in the class of 2022 or 2023, so it was disheartening to feel overlooked during a week that was meant to welcome us and help us get adjusted to life on campus. Once again, the school had failed to acknowledge and communicate our presence to others on campus, resulting in both feeling and actively being excluded.
Furthermore, the end of orientation week seemed to mark the end of the school’s communication with the transfer students. Though I’ve heard that in previous years the school would set up socials to help the transfer students meet their peers, Davidson barely made an attempt to help us mix with the community this year. Not one event was planned, and not one email was sent to communicate or check in with us. Yes, COVID has made it difficult for the school to host in-person events, but after observing the many efforts that the administration made to help the freshmen find community, their lack of effort to do the same for transfer students was upsetting. While the freshmen were actively seeking community amongst each other, most sophomores and upperclassmen were more focused on following COVID guidelines since they already had the chance to connect with each other in previous years. Given the circumstances, any type of help or recognition from the administration would have been greatly appreciated.
Despite the lack of effort from the school itself, the community at Davidson is as strong as advertised. I want to acknowledge that my peers and teachers have been nothing but kind to me as I’ve found my way in the Davidson community. Many students I’ve met during online classes have reached out to me in breakout rooms and over GroupMe. Likewise, many of my teachers have offered to help me navigate my major and have consistently checked in on how I’ve been doing. Because of the quality of the education and the sincerity of the community that I have already experienced, I know that ultimately I made the right choice by transferring to Davidson. Having said that, the administration has consistently displayed a blatant disregard for this year’s transfer students. I would recommend that the school make a more concentrated effort to facilitate the experience for future transfer students. Some simple actions could include reaching out with supportive emails, hosting community events, better communicating the presence of the transfer students on campus, and allowing transfers to have a voice in their housing arrangements.
Samantha Ewing ’23 (she/her) is a sophomore intended English major from Atlanta, GA and can be reached for comment at email@example.com.