Juliette Des Rosiers ’26
Copy Editor Intern
Scripps College advertises itself as “a robust intellectual community [with] a commitment to diversity and inclusion” that welcomes students from any background into the community. Scripps’ lack of support for its international students exposes how the college falls short when putting these ideas into practice.
A glance at the website speaks volumes about their lack of awareness for international students. It is ridden with misinformation and is seriously due for an update. It has year-old information about international student orientation and falsely maintains that Scripps employs Ge Yao at the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE) office, who quietly resigned earlier this year after less than a year of employment as International Advisor. Additionally, the main information page for international students also discusses International Place, a 5C-wide program dissolved over two years ago.
We must turn to the students to assess whether Scripps College upholds its value of “diverse perspectives” and treats international students as “an integral part of academic and cultural life.” I spoke with a few international students about their experience here.
Scripps international students clearly did not feel supported nor valued by the administration. An anonymous international Scripps junior said, “Admin is not a place where I feel I can go to be supported.” She continued by expressing how necessary it is for the administration to fill the position previously held by Ge Yao. “We don’t have an international advisor. That means we don’t have a person who knows what to do with our identities. I don’t think people understand how alienating or troubling that is. We don’t have someone who actually knows what they’re doing. We just have someone who has been assigned to sign off on stuff. And that’s scary. Because it’s like, what if I am not allowed back into this country again because of you all not having someone to go through this process?”
Guidance is necessary for international students who must navigate the complex American system to reside in the country legally. The anonymous junior continued: “If you want to work in America as an international student you need to get your Current or Optional Practical Training (CPT or OPT) authorized. If you ask someone in admin they will be like ‘I don’t know.’ I think that’s really frustrating because how do you plan for a future when there’s no one to guide you through that process?”
The current staff member tasked with reviewing logistics for international students does not have training to meet international students’ needs and is leaving on sabbatical next semester. Unmet needs lead Scripps international students to sometimes seek the other 5C international offices for assistance, a testament to Scripps’ embarrassing lack of administrative support. Understandably, the process of rehiring can be lengthy and complex. Still, the lack of action from the administration exemplifies how they do not prioritize the needs of international students. Since the forced dissolution of International Place in 2020, Scripps international students still deserve proper support when launched into life in the United States.
This year, Scripps had a pre-orientation hosted through SCORE for first-gen and international students. A current Scripps international freshman reflected on the experience. “It was fine. We were lumped in with the first-gen students so a lot of the events I feel didn’t apply to us. We went to get our SIM cards and our bank accounts sorted out but it was a little chaotic. At first, they said ‘choose between getting a SIM card and opening a bank account’. We need both. And I ended up emailing saying I am missing this event because I need to go open my bank account.”
Scripps should more thoroughly introduce resources at orientation; ideally, ones specifically tailored towards international students. “I will say as a first-year, new international student coming here, they provide no support,” said Shing Ru Chew ‘25. “I had no idea how to get from the airport to school. I had no idea how LAX works. I had no SIM card.”
It appears the administration does not understand the disorientation international students face from the moment they land at LAX. The administration must ask themselves: what support would I require if placed in a foreign country with only a few suitcases? That is the bare minimum for the resources they should provide an international student.
International students have also felt a lack of understanding from their peers. One student noted: “[There is no] capacity here to allow international students to grow. You have to be very careful about what you say around people because you never know what is construed differently. They never cut you any slack. And the thing is, they don’t have any empathy for the fact that you come from a different background, you have a different lifestyle, you come from a place where the culture is so different. It’s not fair to expect us to know everything about this country.”
Additionally, international students have repeatedly experienced other students assuming that all international students come from wealthy and privileged backgrounds, even explicitly asking them about it. Not only is this inappropriate and harmful, but it is a false generalization that disregards the academic skills of international students and ignores how many of them also work multiple jobs to fund their education.
In addition, multiple international students stated that other students had grilled them on their identity with questions such as, “But are you actually from there?” This problem, one international student notes, can lead to divisions among affinity groups. “I feel like international students have a hard time identifying with their identity and other students who have the same or similar identity because they have different experiences having grown up in the States versus outside the States that creates this clash.” However, if students across groups collectively work to respect the validity of everyone’s identity and disregard preconceptions related to heritage, we can foster a community more accepting of all identities.
This discomfort international students sometimes experience also manifests in their physical space or, more accurately, lack thereof. “We don’t have a space for all the 5C international students to meet. We don’t even have a space for Scripps international students.” The student clarified when asked about SCORE, which is a space dedicated to affinity groups such as the Scripps International Community (SIC) affinity group. “There’s a huge value to SCORE and all identity-affiliated clubs are open to feeling welcome there. But it is very different for international students because SCORE is very US-centric and our concept is kind of bringing us home and stepping out of that. Like talking about the States or just kind of bonding on simple things that we very much need to detach from the States for a second. So when SCORE is so US-centric it already makes us feel out of place. So we need a place that is solely ours.”
SIC organizes activities for Scripps international students and is also involved in building spaces to connect international students across all 7Cs. Co-chair Rhea Malhotra ’23 discussed the club’s goals. “Home away from home/extended family has always been my vision for SIC. That’s how I view the international community at Scripps. I mean, there’s a reason the majority of my friends are international students. They are the people I feel like I can be myself around. We just want to be a safe space for international students. Because it can be very difficult, being at a PWI (primarily white institution) in itself, but also being at a college where you don’t really feel like your needs are valued or acknowledged, so finding that support within your peers is really really important.”
As the Scripps College community, we need to ask ourselves how we can better support international students. Scripps can facilitate this progress through tangible steps. The administration needs to provide the Scripps international students with an international advisor dedicated to logistically guiding them. This position should not be a big ask, as Scripps College is the 5C with the lowest percentage of international students while simultaneously being the only 5C not to have an international advisor. An international student herself put it well: “Just because there aren’t that many of us doesn’t mean we don’t need support.”
Overall, the Scripps international students hope the administration can demonstrate how much they value them. Irene Ruiz ’25 summed it up: “We really don’t want it to seem like we are telling them ‘you are doing your job wrong [and] you need to make all these changes’. The message we want to get across to them so they actually listen to us and actually do something about it is: after COVID you lost your touch, you lost money, and you are not putting your priorities where they need to be. You are losing students, you are neglecting students as well. You are worsening the experiences of students and that’s where your priorities should be.”
Image Source: Serena Liu ’24