The ways incoming students are assessed and placed into pretransfer and transfer English courses in California community colleges have changed drastically. Moving away from traditional forms of placement testing, California community colleges, under the mandates of AB 705, have instead increased direct access for students into transfer English classes. Such changes, however, have not been without controversy. Using a theoretical framework of critical literacy, critical race theory (CRT), and theories of sense of belonging, this phenomenological case study included individual interviews with 12 students, five English faculty members, and three administrators to examine perceptions related to English placement reform and students’ sense of belonging and empowerment in transfer-level English classes. Using a phenomenological case study approach to analysis, the Model for Supporting Students in Transfer English (MSSTE) was created to explain the three major themes emergent from data: Placement Reform Dichotomy-Equity Mindedness vs Doubt of Student Capacity, Placement and Deference, and Supporting the Affective Domain. Research findings can be used to increase awareness of understanding varied perspectives regarding English placement reform and effective ways to support students in transfer English courses.