OSE mandates weekend programming to “support campus vibrancy”
By Anna Gao ’21 and Crystal Juan ’22
On Sept. 22, over 20 Scripps Clubs and Organization (CLORG) student leaders met with staff members from the Scripps Office of Student Engagement (OSE) during a mandatory CLORG retreat.
CLORG attendance of the mandatory retreat was one of three new policies implemented for CLORGs this school year. The second policy requires Scripps CLORGs to host one “Saturday Program” during the academic year, while the third policy introduces a new event registration process through OSE.
Many CLORG leaders, including Grace Shao ’21, who serves as Scripps Associated Students (SAS) co-treasurer, Funding Advisory Committee (FAC) non-voting member, and Asian-American Sponsor Program (AAS) co-head, claim they were first informed of these changes at the CLORG retreat.
“I was there representing two of my other CLORGs and this was the first time I had heard of the new programming and how it worked in terms of how it was to be funded,” Shao said. “It was a lot of very, very new information.”
According to Shao, there did not appear to be a clear channel of communication between SAS and OSE.
“In terms of opening that communication line up, I think it would’ve cleared up a lot of confusion and would have allowed SAS to advocate for OSE with this new initiative,” Shao said.
Many other student leaders also expressed frustrations with communication and transparency.
“I appreciate the goal of the new policies, but I think the specifics are not thought out to accommodate the rich diversity of Scripps CLORGs,” President of Collage Club and Editor-in-Chief of Scripps Yearbook Julia Lohman ’21 said. “OSE admitted that they did not consult any student CLORG leaders on the changes, and I think if they had, the resulting policies would be beneficial to everyone.”
Co-President of Scripps Politics Association Maggie Bynum ’20 agrees.
“I understand and appreciate that OSE is trying to support CLORGs and the Scripps student community, but their poor communication has created a lot of confusion and frustration for me,” Bynum said. “I wish OSE would be transparent with student leaders about how and why they decided on these requirements. I also wish that they were more receptive to student feedback during the CLORG [retreat].”
Many student leaders who were interviewed did not recall receiving any notification from OSE about the new policies.
However, Brighitte Preciado, the assistant director of student engagement, and Brenda Ice, assistant dean and director of student life state otherwise.
According to Ice and Preciado, “as part of the registration process in April 2019, CLORGs were informed they would be required to host one Saturday event during the 2019-2020 academic year.”
The document in which the policy was mentioned was distributed to CLORG leaders on April 19 and 23 of this year, attached as a PDF in an email reminding CLORG leaders to register their clubs. It was the ninth out of ten total bullet points.
In this document, the 2019-2020 registration requirements, there is mention of some new requirements. However, these are not the same parameters that were outlined to student leaders at the CLORG retreat.
The registration form states that CLORGs “‘must host one event during the first 6 weeks of school on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday in support of campu[s] vibrancy and alternative programming initiatives.”
According to Ice and Preciado, the Saturday Programming is part of the Residence Life Vibrancy Initiative, which works to support the Scripps Centennial Plan, under the Inclusive Student Success Initiative.
The Scripps Centennial Plan “is a blueprint to ensure the College’s future is filled with infinite possibility in the 21st century and beyond,” according to its official website. The Inclusive Student Success Initiative is one of four theme areas, the others including Innovative Learning Organization, Distinctive Identity, and Mission Driven Outreach.
The Inclusive Student Success Initiative strives to “enlarge the Scripps experience so that it represents all identities, amplifies each voice, and imbues every member of our community with confidence, courage, and hope” (Scripps Centennial Plan).
“Our goal is to create programs that encourage students to connect with others outside of their residential communities to enhance their overall sense of belonging to Scripps,” Preciado said in an email. “The Saturday programs are but one way we are working to achieve that goal.”
However, Saturday Programming has created some complications for student leaders.
Some leaders struggle to see how their CLORG can create Saturday programming for the larger student body.
“Yearbook is an application-based closed staff,” Lohman said. “Why do we need to host a public event? What would we even do at such an event?”
Bynum also describe similar struggles with the Saturday Programming.
“Weekend-appropriate programming does not align with [Scripps Politics Association’s] mission statement,” Bynum said. “I do not think students want to attend an academic or pre-professional-focused event on the weekend.”
“I appreciate that OSE is trying to improve social life at Scripps because I agree that it is lacking,” Lohman said. “However, in making these new standards universal requirements, I think they are ignoring the different needs of different clubs.”
Blend, which is a SCORE-based affinity group that serves students who identify as multi-ethnic, multi-racial, transracial adoptees or third culture kids, is one such club.
“What [Blend mainly does] is to host weekly meetings for students and we can’t simply move the day — I know for me personally, having that community space weekly on the day we do is really important for my health and success,” said Blend Treasurer Madison Gates ’21.
According to Gates, Blend doesn’t have the funding for Saturday Programming; the club’s budget only covers meetings.
However, Ice and Preciado have taken steps to ensure that funding will not be an issue. “Funding for Saturday events is supported by the Office of Student Engagement,” according to Ice and Preciado. “CLORGs who need assistance with program planning can contact email@example.com to learn more about our Program In a Box initiative.”
The Program In a Box includes activity instructions, a program layout, a list of supplies which OSE will provide, a flyer template, one option of snack and one option of a drink.
Some Program In a Box examples include: Game Night, Minute to Win It, DIY Stress Balls, Trivia and Treats, Lawn Games and Cookies and Conversations.
However, many CLORGs elected not to participate in this Program In a Box initiative.
“Their suggestions for events we could throw that were ‘free or low cost’ were things that showed they didn’t respect the very serious work most CLORGs are doing, whether it be educational/pre-professional or the community building/mentorship programming of SCORE CLORGs,” Gates said.
Bynum also expressed economic worries.
“I am concerned we are wasting resources, like our SAS budget and our time on an event that no one will attend,” Bynum said.
The new event registration process through OSE was documented in the 2019-2020 CLORG registration requirements document, stating that CLORGs must “track events hosted throughout the year.”
The event registration process includes a proposal form that must be submitted at least 10 days in advance to OSE. Information that must be provided on this form include: event location/time, projected number of attendees, a detailed outline/plan of the event, projected cost with a budget breakdown, and the advertisement for the event. Once submitted, OSE staff review the event proposal. If the event proposal is rejected, CLORG leaders will receive guidance for resubmission and may then move forward with the event.
Then following the event, CLORGs must also submit a Post-Event Tracker form. Through this form, CLORG leaders must give a short description of the event including if the goals of the event were reached, if the CLORG would repeat this event, if this event could be improved and if items were given away. They must also include final program cost, final number of attendees, and a photo of the sign-up sheet that includes name, student ID, email, and signatures of attendees.
“Our policies have been modified to ensure the accountability and sustainability of CLORGs,” Preciado wrote.
However, Gates questioned the necessity of these policies.
“It also makes no sense, did something happen last year that made them feel they suddenly had to make this process so bureaucratic?” Gates said. “There didn’t seem to be any issues last year, and if something did happen, it certainly wasn’t communicated to us. It feels like there’s suddenly a lack of trust and it makes no sense why.”
Gates also questions the requests for budget breakdowns in the event registration process.
“We get our budgets from SAS, which is a completely separate non-profit from Scripps College,” Gates said. “No Scripps College office has any right to see our budgets or suddenly demand changes that impact our budgets, especially without talking to SAS first. SAS already is very thorough in auditing clubs budgets, and so it’s unnecessary and patronizing for OSE to suddenly demand to also be allowed to know how we are spending our money.”
Gates also notes how the burden of creating a more vibrant campus for Scripps disproportionately impacts student of color leaders at Scripps.
“As student leaders who are already doing so much work to create spaces for students of color on campus, spaces that the school itself should but doesn’t provide, we don’t have the time or energy to be doing more,” Gates said. “We aren’t getting paid for all of the work we do to ensure that POC at Scripps have community spaces and to require more of us is ridiculous.”
Additionally, Gates notes that “they really should have done better to build trust with the community and not spring this on everyone in the way they did—it really shows a lack of respect for the student leaders who do so much for the Scripps student body.”
Illustration by Gabi Seifert
10/10, Volume XXIX, Issue 2