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Scripps Scrapps Fights to Make a Sustainable Difference in Face of COVID-19 Shutdown

Ellen Hu ’24
Staff Writer

When the Scripps campus shut down in March, Scripps Scrapps student organizers Amalia Barrett ’21 and Caroline Wofford ’21 weren’t told that the program they had been organizing throughout the year was getting cancelled. Instead, they found out with the rest of the student population through the COVID-19 FAQ page sent out by administration.

“This program essentially does a lot of good, and so we expected and hoped to have more administrative support in trying to do what we can in a COVID appropriate way,” Wofford said.

Scripps Scrapps is a dorm recycling program run in collaboration by students and administration. The program was started in early 2016 by then Sustainability Coordinator Tiffany Ortamond. However, in 2017, Ortamond’s position was removed. Barrett and Wofford, who worked with Ortamond during her time at Scripps, took over the project and since then have run two full cycles over their time at Scripps.

The program collects students’ no longer wanted belongings at the end of the Spring semester and resells the items in the fall. They prioritize larger items, such as mini fridges, but also take a variety of smaller items including hangers and textbooks. Items are sold for no more than thirty dollars each.

Barrett and Wofford see the program as beneficial to the Scripps community on many levels. Recycling items makes the campus more sustainable while their services also help the facility workers clean the rooms at the end of each semester. Barrett and Wofford see additional benefits for first-year students who can purchase cheap dorm supplies.

“You’re reusing, you’re helping,” Barrett said. “You feel important by participating in Scripps Scrapps and recycling with us.”

This year the program was cut short when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S., resulting in Scripps’ transition to virtual learning. The cancellation of Scripps Scrapps followed soon after.

The FAQ message that informed Barrett and Wofford of their program’s cancellation was sent out on March 13, two days after students were told they needed to evacuate the campus by March 18. Under the “Residential Life” section of the website, the page states, “The Scripps Scrapps program has been cancelled for this semester.”

“Despite the fact that we had been in contact with her, [Brenda Ice] never personally emailed us knowing we were the student organizers,” Barrett said.

Barrett and Wofford were initially confused by the situation, asking their facility contacts if there was anything they could do to no avail. “We didn’t know that [Brenda Ice] had the control to cancel Scripps Scrapps,” Wofford said.

After reaching out to Dean Ice to ask if there was anything they could do, she responded to let the team know they could not coordinate anything. Dean Ice did not respond to requests for comment.

Nonetheless, the two student organizers attempted to make a difference in the chaos of an unusual and rushed dorm move-out. When they received direct messages from students asking if they would take some items, the two decided to move forward with an adjusted version of Scripps Scrapps.

Barrett and Wofford focused on seniors and pushed for donations of larger items. “Specifically, fridges because we knew that those would be thrown away and those are the worst things to throw away,” Barrett said. Although they turned down smaller items, they provided information for other places students could donate to.

Wofford characterized the collection process as “slow” since collections were individually scheduled and social-distancing measures needed to be taken. Still, over the three days they were given, Scripps Scrapps collected enough items to fill a six-by-twenty-foot storage unit. Barrett used her personal money to rent an off-campus third-party storage unit under her name where the organizers stored their collected items over the summer.

The rushed move-out brought additional community challenges the two attempted to address. Due to uncertainty regarding when the campus would re-open, administration directed students to throw away all of the food they stored in their dorm rooms.

“It was shocking to us,” Wofford said. “‘Just throw everything away and leave’ was the attitude of the college.” In hopes of reducing food waste, the team coordinated food donations on top of their dorm supply collection.

Unopened and sealed food donations were brought to House of Ruth and Crossroads, two organizations that support underprivileged members of the Claremont community. Food that was perishable or opened was sent to the Keck Science Center where professors and other staff members could take them.

“That week, we had papers due, there were academic obligations, there was the fact that we needed to move out in under four days out of our room, and we were trying to coordinate all this,” Wofford said. “It was very hectic.”

More challenges arose as the fall semester came closer. Barrett and Wofford had used their own finances to pay for the summer storage unit under the assumption that students would be returning to campus in the fall. When they realized it was not going to happen, the two sent an email to Dean Ice asking if there was any way they could store the items in an empty dorm room, but received no response.

With no response, the two decided to move forward with an independent Scripps Scrapps sale. In the same way they completed one-on-one donation collections, Barrett and Wofford began scheduling individual meetings to sell items.

This wasn’t the first time that Barret and Wofford had to fight for their program. After a successful sale in their sophomore year, administration told Barrett and Wofford that the money they had earned from the first Scripp Scrapps sale was lost. “Thankfully, after us and a few members of the environmental club got in contact with as many people as they possibly could, [the college] reapplied for the grant,” Wofford said.

The two created a Google Slideshow displaying all of the available items for sale and updated it as they were bought. In total, they sold 130 items. “This had to be a labor of love,” Barrett said.

Scripps students speak highly of the program as well. “They put a lot of their own personal time and effort into making Scripps a more sustainable place,” Sarah Halabe ’21 said. “It’s really disappointing that the Scripps admin isn’t supporting them at all.”

Yet, the two know that their actions were not supported by Scripps administration. “We recognize that we went against the specific direction of administration,” Wofford said. “We know that we broke the rules, and we’re not advocating for other people to do that.”

Still, Barrett and Wofford are proud of their work and grateful for the encouragement they’ve received from the Scripps community. There were over 100 contributions to a GoFundMe and Venmo fundraiser they held in early August in order to pay for the storage unit. “That was really heartening for us because we weren’t sure what to expect,” Wofford said. “It was really showing us that this thing that we’ve put so much of ourselves into is something that people really hold dear and value.”

Barrett and Wofford hope that Scripps Scrapps will be able to run next fall and are currently working to engage younger students in their program. Students who are interested in joining Scripps Scrapps can reach out to Barrett and Wofford at abarrett7913@scrippscollege.edu and cwofford7587@scrippscollege.edu.

Image Source: Caroline Wofford

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