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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Students, Faculty Team Up to Fight for Transfer Students

    It is once again time for the Student-Faculty-Staff (SFS) Retreat, the annual event that has been around for the past 22 years. This year’s retreat focuses on the transfer student experience.

    The SFS Retreat allows students, faculty, staff, and administrators to get together and exchange ideas or concerns about a specific campus issue. This year, 60 people will participate in the retreat on Nov. 3 and 4 to address how the transition for transfer students can be enhanced. Prominent administrators attending the retreat will be President Shirley Strum Kenny and Dean of Students Jerrold Stein.

    ‘We are hoping to talk about improving the problems that transfer students face,’ said Jeffrey Barnett, undergraduate academic advisor for sciences. ‘The need to improve the transfer student experience arose from debate among the various departments that are involved with the transfer program.’

    Barnett is also the administrator and logistic coordinator who arranged for bus transportation and food at the retreat. As in the past, this year’s retreat will take place at the Glen Cove Mansion.

    Stony Brook brings in about 2,000 transfer students a year, 1,400-1,500 in the fall and 500-600 in the spring. The students come from over 600 institutions, posing various problems for the Transfer Student Office when it has to handle 145,000 transfer credits.

    ‘Partly because the numbers are so big, there are some issues,’ said Arlene Feldman, Associate Dean for Transfer Services. ‘I’d like to see more advisors in this office, I currently have three.’ The average case load for an advisor is around 300-350 students, and with the addition of new advisors, the new students can be officially assigned to an advisor. Otherwise, the students seek for any of the three advisors available.

    Feldman also mentioned how there needs to be a staff to enter data into the computer. ‘We need a data entry staff, and the advisors currently do this,’ said Feldman. Another issue is determining course equivalency for the classes that transfer students have taken at their previous institution. Determining course equivalency is a lengthy process in which approval for credit needs to be authorized by the professors teaching similar courses.

    The transfer experience is difficult for the students as well. Feldman mentioned how the students are unable to find their major advisor at orientation, and how they often take classes which are not needed for their DEC or major. There are also many incoming juniors with an undeclared major, and who have not taken an ‘Intro to Stony Brook’ class to become aware of the opportunities around campus.

    ‘I’m sure some of these problems will come up at the retreat,’ said Feldman.

    The retreat is designed to allow students to talk freely with professors and collaborate on solutions after hearing opinions from a diverse group of people. ‘One of the main goals is to provide those who don’t normally interact a chance to interact with one another,’ said Barnett. He added that the incorporation of Campus Lifetime is just one of the many examples of outcomes from previous retreat sessions.

    There are three phases to the retreat. The pre-retreat is a social gathering on campus for all participants. They meet on campus a few weeks prior to the main day of the retreat. At the actual retreat, everyone will brainstorm the problems with the transfer student program. Teams will be asked to address a specific aspect of the problem and report their ideas to the rest of the group. The post-retreat consists of a meeting a couple of months later to analyze whether any of the ideas and solutions to the problem have been beneficial. ‘It allows the people to see tangible outcomes,’ said Barnett. The retreat experience is more than just presentations and discussions. Students and faculty engage in activities like ping-pong, racquetball, squash and taking walks.

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