Of the 20 senators in this year’s ASUC Senate class, none are transfer students.
This is a stark difference to the senate class of 2017, which had three transfer student senators — Juniperangelica Cordova, Hani Hussein and Carmel Gutherz. To combat this lack of representation, the ASUC president’s office is pushing several initiatives, including establishing a permanent mechanism to ensure transfer representation within the ASUC.
“It’s always really important to have a transfer student in the room, … especially because we represent 30 percent of the undergrad population,” Gutherz said. “We are such a unique community with … students who come from such a unique spectrum of backgrounds.”
After no transfer students won a senate seat this year, ASUC president Alexander Wilfert said he intentionally established a department for transfer student affairs in his office.
“The ASUC is predisposed to making it difficult for transfer students to be exposed,” Wilfert said. “We needed to be intentional in making sure those experiences are still being a part of the ASUC.”
Neil McClintick, a transfer student who ran for senate in the 2017 elections, is now the transfer director in the ASUC president’s office. McClintick, a former opinion columnist for The Daily Californian, has been an advocate for transfer student issues within the ASUC and is currently working with Chief Legal Officer Claire Goudy to legally establish a reserved seat for transfer student representation.
Despite having a transfer student department, Gutherz said there is more power in having a transfer student senator, who would have an “unparalleled” position to advocate directly to upper-level administrators.
According to McClintick, projects within his transfer student department range from increasing outreach to transfer students at events such as Cal Day to establishing a form of permanent ASUC representation.
McClintick said there are legal barriers around having an established seat for transfer students. But he argued the current election system disadvantages transfer students, violating the ASUC constitution’s equitable access section, which prevents the ASUC from supporting anything that disadvantages students based on their traits.
Given the time crunch of campus life for transfer students, who usually have only two years on campus rather than four, McClintick said joining clubs and organizations across campus is difficult.
He said these difficulties are accentuated in the ASUC — in order to be slated for a party in time for the spring elections, a transfer student needs to become quickly involved with the ASUC and then decide to run in the middle of the fall semester.
“Rejection is kind of the norm — if you get rejected and you’re only here for two years, then you’re kind of screwed,” McClintick said. “You don’t have four years to keep getting rejected.”