Why There’s Basically No Access To Basements

Theodora Helgason ’22

In my first days as a Scrippsie I was racked with anxiety about where I would make new friends. Scripps is blessed with more picturesque nooks than most colleges have, and because we are blessed with SoCal weather, most of them are outdoors. Perhaps this is a good problem to have: too many shared spaces. Yet, it didn’t feel like there was one place to congregate in my residence hall, Clark. In my fantasies about college I always envisioned staying up late and talking, eating chips and telling stories in a common room.

There is the recreation room, which is conveniently located right next to my own room but unknown and unseen by most of the other first years in my hall. The living room was spacious and a known space to all Clarkies, but with medieval lighting and old- albeit charming- furniture, it did not make me feel welcome to laugh loudly with new friends while sharing popcorn and secrets. It felt like a quiet place of study, not the setting for the socializing I craved.

My best friend, a student at Lafayette College, told me that the basement was where he had made most of his friends. It was a shared place that everyone had access to and knew because it was where facilities like the laundry room were located. He would bring his work downstairs and would always find a friendly face waiting, ready to chat about anything and everything. They watched sports games and played foosball during their study breaks, and most importantly, that basement is where they made plans to hang out again. Friendships were formed in the underground space of their shared hall. It was an equalizing place. A place equally convenient for everyone.

At Scripps, all residence hall basements have been closed off to students. So, what are the basements here at Scripps being used for? The Voice reached out to the Office of Marketing and Communications to find out.

“The basements of the residence halls at Scripps contain areas for building mechanical and electrical systems, storage spaces, and, in some residence halls, laundry facilities,” Interim Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, Carolyn Robles, said. “As part of our ongoing campus assessments, it was determined that restricted access to and use of the basements of the College would enhance the safety and security of the residence halls. As a result of the change, the basement laundry in Clark was relocated to the first floor so that each residence hall complex has laundry facilities available on the first or second floor.”

According to Robles, because the restricted access of Scripps basements has decreased student storage space, student storage is now located in Tiernan Field House.

“General access to the basements is now restricted to necessary personnel of the College,” Robles said.

It is up to Scripps students to transform the gathering spaces in the residence halls that we already have into places of laughter and light.

“The basements were not used as student gathering spaces [prior to their termination as a student space], which are abundant on Scripps campus,” Robles said. “The College does not have floor plans or photos [of the basements] to share.”