Scripps Juniors Compelled To Live Off-Campus By Overenrollment, COVID-19 Restrictions

In the Scripps College Class of 2023 Facebook group, rising Scripps College junior and outgoing Judicial and Academic Review Chair Maddy Levine announced that rising juniors will have the last priority for housing in “room draw” and that “up to 120 juniors will be forced to live off-campus in the Claremont Collegiate Apartments (“CCA”),” following the Fall Planning 2021 announcement Dean Charlotte Johnson shared with the Scripps community on April 26. 

Scripps College sent the Class of 2023 home in March of 2020, so the typical 2023 student forced to live in CCA would spend four and a half semesters living off-campus, more than half of their college experience.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health issued updated protocols for reopening institutes of higher education during the Covid-19 pandemic on May 11. Located in Los Angeles County, Scripps College is forced to comply with the guidelines for on-campus housing, including decreased capacity, requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students living in doubles, and housing students who are not fully vaccinated in single rooms. In the fall, residential living spaces at Scripps College will be limited to singles and doubles, eliminating triples. 

Historically, class seniority has determined prioritization in Scripps College’s competitive room draw process, with seniors drawing first and freshmen drawing last. Assuming a fully on-campus experience for the next four years, rising freshmen and sophomores will spend four and three years on campus, respectively. 

In conversations with Associate Dean of Students Dean Adriana di Bartolo and President Amy Marcus-Newhall, Levine argued against the perceived unfair treatment of rising juniors, stating that she “made clear that this policy places the sole burden of COVID and over-enrollment (the incoming first year class is 358 students) on the backs of juniors academically, socially, and economically.” The classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024 enrolled 252, 283, and 221 students; incoming freshmen and transfers mark a 60% increase over last year’s enrollment. 

Scripps College has over-enrolled in the past. In 2017, the enrollment of 329 students in the class of 2021 led to 38 Scripps first-year students living off-campus at the Claremont Graduate University apartments. In this instance of over-enrollment, students were provided with a shuttle from the apartments to campus. 

In response to criticisms that juniors would be disproportionately impacted by this decision, the student recalled from her meeting with Dean di Bartolo and President Marcus-Newhall that Scripps’s administration argued it was “‘the best decision for Scripps as an institution.’” Additionally, the administration stated that it will hire three support staff, who will live at CCA. Despite being a 15 minute walk from campus, Scripps College has yet to announce if it will provide shuttles between Scripps and the apartments.

Levine argues that forcing up to 120 juniors off-campus is “categorically unfair” and called for the Scripps to be held accountable, as “families pay an extraordinary amount to attend a college that markets itself as providing a 5-college experience with all the advantages of the consortium including easy access to services/facilities (libraries, fitness centers, dining halls, support services) as well as a residential life that is ‘the heart of the Scripps experience.’ If Scripps must put students off-campus because of COVID and over-enrollment, then it must provide an off-campus experience that is equivalent to the on-campus experience.”

Citing safety issues, such as transportation between campus and the apartments at night,  and access to facilities, the student demanded that the school provide a shuttle from the apartment and financial incentives to students accepting CCA housing next year. She encourages students to email the administrators in charge of this decision.

Scripps College is not the only institution facing backlash over next year’s residential plans. Pomona College, another member of the Claremont Colleges, faced backlash after announcing severe limits to off-campus housing. Some Pomona students complained about “forced” room and board fees amounting to $12,820, on average. 

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