Priya Canzius ’20
April 24, 2020
This article will be updated as Scripps administration and Scripps Associated Students (SAS) release more information to the community.
These are uncertain times for everyone, regardless of their affiliation with the Scripps community. Even so, Scripps College plans to welcome the classes of 2021-2024 in the fall of 2020.
How the College will do so has not yet been made public to the student body.
“The College is currently engaged in planning for the 2020-2021 academic year and will share those plans with the campus community once they are finalized,” said Assistant Dean and Director of Campus Life Brenda Ice.
In trend with other colleges in the US, Scripps College plans to abide by public health and safety recommendations as more information about COVID-19 coronavirus and its spread is brought to public attention.
“We continue to monitor the public health situation and to study our options as information and data become available. We seek to retain what is special about the Scripps experience while also protecting the health of our own community and those around us,” Scripps College President Lara Tiedens said.
But how might next year’s experience be different for the Classes of 2021-2024?
“The transition we experienced this semester was costly,” said Tiedens in an email to the Scripps College student body on April 14. “Room and board refunds, cancellation of campus events, investment in technology to support classes in their new form, expenses related to cleaning, moving, storage, and emergency travel, and a decline in the value of the endowment and in charitable giving have resulted in lost revenue that typically comprises a significant portion of the College’s operational budget. Further, summer activity has become an important source of funds for our academic year programming, and it appears that most, if not all, summer events will be canceled this year. As we look toward the fall, we anticipate an increase in requests for financial aid as the economic impact of the pandemic will affect many families’ financial position.”
Scripps College has taken steps to make up for some of this lost revenue.
In the 2020-2021 school year, the College will neither hire for open positions nor increase employee salaries, reduce the salaries of the College’s senior staff, and suspend “non-essential expenditures in the current fiscal year, and [administer] a 10% budget cut for fiscal year 2021,” according to Tiedens.
Potential Residential Impact
Scripps College prides itself on its community; although students are no longer on campus, the College has worked to provide its students with resources to stay connected, such as access to Zoom and Residential Life virtual programming.
“One of the most significant impacts has been the dispersal of our on-campus community during a time when we expected to be closer in proximity,” Ice said. “I am proud of how we have all worked together to maintain connections, despite the circumstances.”
However, close the Scripps community has stayed, if the 2020-2021 school year is to return to in-person as usual, there are significant logistical concerns.
The College, which had a housing crisis in the 2017-2018 school year, may now be faced with another one as students who planned to go abroad in the Fall semester cancel their plans.
“Scripps is planning to provide housing for those students who decide not to study abroad or whose study abroad programs are cancelled prior to the start of the program,” Ice said. “Additional details will be provided.”
Alternatively, it is unclear what actions the College might take if students decide to take a leave of absence or gap year before returning to the Scripps campus. When asked about the College’s policy for granting leave of absence or gap year, Tiedens did not comment.
Whatever the College’s decision, Ice is committed to providing students with a positive residential experience.
“We will continue to engage students in ways that promote a vibrant and connected community,” Ice said.
Potential Social Impact
Aside from the more apparent social changes that virtual college life has brought, there may be additional impacts to Scripps students’ social lives even upon their return to campus in Fall 2020.
Scripps first years are introduced to the College via SOAR Orientation, an experience that brings small groups of Scripps students to Los Angeles destinations, such as LACMA, Santa Monica, or Huerta de Valle. These trips are led by Scripps Peer Mentors, a group of Scripps students who are committed to helping first years acclimate into Scripps life.
“Planning is underway to develop an orientation experience that maintains our commitment to community engagement at Scripps while aligning with state and local protocols in place at the time,” said Brighitte Preciado, Assistant Director of Student Engagement at Scripps.
Preciado did not state whether the SOAR orientation or the Peer Mentor role would continue in the 2020-2021 school year.
For students who are involved in Scripps Clubs and Organizations (CLORGS), it is not yet known if there will be budget changes in SAS’ budget allocations. If the budget for CLORGS is to decrease next year as the College reduces its non-essential spending, it may mean fewer free activities, club meetings, and publications in the 2020-2021 school year.
Whether students will be eating lunch on Jaqua Quadrangle or viewing the campus from a computer screen in the Fall is yet to be determined. However, the College has committed itself to providing its students with the best experience possible, provided the circumstances.
“The impact of the coronavirus on Scripps College has been immense,” Tiedens said. “Most salient is its human toll, as so many of us worry about and care for our loved ones’ health and cope with lives that have been disrupted in so many ways. It cannot be overstated how much the lives of our students, faculty, and staff have changed and how different the campus is.”
Image Credit: Anna Liss-Roy