Larger organization fair is necessary for transfer students’ college experience

Jeff Rose

Freshman orientation offers new students the chance to find the student organizations and programs that will come to define their college experience. Transfer students, also new to the University, don’t have the same opportunity.

As a transfer student at UT, I was excited to finally be attending my dream school. Orientation was going to be my gateway to campus life. Since I didn’t get all the time freshmen get to find a place on campus, it was even more important for me to get involved as quickly as possible.

But transfer student orientation failed to provide a sufficient introduction to campus life — the organization fair was tiny. There were maybe a little over a dozen student organizations and several empty tables set up in the tiny Jester Spanish Oaks Terrace.

I thought maybe this was just how all the fairs were at freshman and transfer student orientations, but within days, I saw a tweet from the UT Orientation Twitter with a picture of a freshman orientation organization fair. There were dozens of organizations filling Gregory Plaza with people swarming between tents and booths.

It felt like transfer students weren’t worth the effort. Anthropology sophomore Isabel Zubizarreta Otero, a fellow transfer student, agrees. While she said transfer students have more college experience than freshmen and may have a better grasp of how to get involved, it was still demoralizing and felt as if the University didn’t value transfer students as much as freshmen.

Otero and I got involved with The Shorthorn at the University of Texas at Arlington because they had a booth at freshman orientation. If it wasn’t for this, we may have never gotten the amazing experience of serving our campus community.

UT has over 1,100 student organizations, meaning there’s more to miss with so few represented, especially for those coming from smaller colleges. It’s already overwhelming to come to a big school like UT, but it’s even more so when you can’t find ways to get involved and make it feel smaller.

Regardless of whether or not we’re freshmen or coming from a different school, new students still need to be shown all that UT has to offer.

While there may be several events throughout the semester for student organizations to represent themselves, which transfer students can attend, it’s still an unfair disadvantage, as we don’t get the opportunity to find organizations that interest us during orientation as so many freshmen do. It only makes finding our place on this huge campus that much harder.

I hope to hear from future transfer students about their great experiences at their organization fairs, but until then, you can find me at events hunting for student organizations, catching up.

Rose is a English sophomore from The Woodlands. He is a guest columnist.