Insider’s Perspective: CSF “Teach Out” and Transfer Students Settle Into Campus Life

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By SHASHEEN BALATCHE

Santa Fe””Due to the sudden closure of College of Santa Fe in the fall of 2009 and the scattering of the CSF students to college and universities across the country, IAIA has gained a new set of students and friends.

They have now settled into campus life after an unsettling experience of changing schools.


In the fall, 18 CSF students came to IAIA, most as “teach out” students, meaning they would finish their senior year at IAIA but graduate with a diploma from CSF. Two students transferred, Zenon Stacy and Sean Burns.

Of the 18 who started, six returned to CSF when it reopened later in the fall after it was bought by Laureate Education, Inc. Six graduated in the fall, and six remain.

Recently, I sent myself on a CSF student scavenger hunt on campus. I would spot someone I thought came from CSF and ask him or her, “Are you from CSF?”

The students I asked were not CSF transfers, but have been going to school here since last semester. I tried to use my Native skills and track them, only to find out that most CSF students are like unicorns, and like any mythical creatures, they are hard to catch.

Liz Smith, a visual arts major in drawing who came all the way from Boston, Mass., found IAIA very different.

“It seemed like I would get a much better education here,” she said about coming to IAIA.

She is glad she chose this school. The orientation was ”incredibly helpful” in the transition from CSF to IAIA, she said.

Sean Burns, studio arts major, flew over the states from New Jersey. He is now a residential assistant at the student housing. He said that the price here for tools is cheaper and the amount of studio hours more than at other schools.

Coming to IAIA was like “starting college over again,” so his initial feeling was frustration. He now feels “slightly better.”

When he first came to IAIA, he stayed in his room a lot, not doing much. Now he has made many friends among the student body.

Gavin Atilano comes to IAIA from New Orleans. I asked him if it has been different here.

“Ab-so-lutely,” he said.

Never afraid to speak up, Atilano found it easy to communicate with IAIA students.

When he first got to IAIA, he felt “very disgruntled and disoriented.” He had a reputation for being outspoken in class. Now that Atilano has been here for two semesters, he feels “thankful.”

“It’s been a really [lousy] thing, this CSF debacle. Y’all helped me through it.”

After talking to the CSF students, I have a new point of view on their presence. I chose this assignment wondering why the CSF students are still here– since they had the opportunity to return to CSF– only to find out that they are students like us, students who want to learn. To be accepted and accept others with different cultural backgrounds.

College of Santa Fe “teach out” students attending IAIA are just students, like it should be.

Copyright © IAIA CHRONICLE 2010

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