Students Frustrated by Interhouse Transfer Process

Upperclassmen who applied to the first round of the interhouse transfer process received the results of their applications last week and some have since voiced concerns and complaints about the process.

Many transfer applicants received an email from Sophia R. Chaknis, director of residential programs and operations, informing them that their attempt to transfer was denied.

Chaknis declined to share exact transfer application numbers.

“The lottery process is completely random with caps set on the number of students who can transfer in and out of each House,” Chaknis wrote.

Tiffany A. Lazo-Cedré ’16, a resident of Pforzheimer House, did not succeed in transferring from the Quad.

Although Lazo-Cedré noted that many students prefer to live in the Quad, she believes that many students may elect to transfer because the current housing system fails to consider student interests. She has found it difficult to attend late-night extracurricular meetings in River Houses.

“I think that’s why the transfer process becomes so competitive, because so many people apply, since many times they’re not happy with their housing,” she said.

According to the Office of Student Life website, students who are unsatisfied with their current housing assignments can choose to enter a random lottery and be placed into a new House. They must have lived in their current House for at least two terms before applying.

According to the same website, there are two rounds of the transfer applications for students who wish to switch at the beginning of the fall semester, and a single round to switch at the beginning of the spring semester. Unsuccessful applicants can apply again if they are denied permission to transfer the first time.

Transfer applicants have the option of applying on their own or joining with a friend to form a pair.

A sophomore transferring out of Cabot House, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the subject, said that, while she and a friend successfully applied to transfer to their top-choice River House, her blockmates were unsuccessful in their applications.

“[My blockmates and I] are currently trying to figure out round two transfers,” she said. “It’s a process that I wish didn’t have to happen, but for myself, I knew that I would be happier transferring.”

Regardless of whether or not their application succeeded, students voiced concerns over the transfer process.

“I think it’s a flawed system in the sense that it doesn’t really work to help the student, or understand the student and their need for housing,” Lazo-Cedré said. “I think there’s not enough support on campus for students who are transferring.”

She added that what she considered a lack of staff members well-versed in the details of the transfer system surprised her, and that the shortage of resources was something she found “very unlike Harvard.”

The sophomore transferring out of Cabot echoed Lazo-Cedré’s concerns and said that the culture surrounding the transfer process calls for improvement.

“I know that Harvard doesn’t necessarily encourage transferring, but if somebody wants to do it, I think that it needs to be a little more well-known and less frowned upon,” she said.

—Staff writer Nikki D. Erlick can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @nikkierlick.

—Staff writer Brianna D. MacGregor can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @bdmacgregor.


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