Dialogue with the Deans: Scripps Deans Share Insight into Campus Policies

Belén Yudess ’25
Copy Editor Intern

On Oct. 18, five Scripps deans convened in the Hampton Room for a panel with students. Organized by the LASPA Center for Leadership, SAS President Lily Dunkin ’24, and Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Sha Bradley, the event served as a follow-up to a previous panel held during the Student Leadership Institute (SLI) at the beginning of the year.

Vice President for Enrollment Victoria Romero, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Jennifer Armstrong, Vice President for Business Affairs/Treasurer Dean Calvo, and Bradley joined the panel while Dunkin moderated the conversation. About 20 student leaders who also attended SLI sat in on the conversation.

Various topics were discussed, ranging from Scripps’ plan to continue to increase diverse student enrollment following the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action, how tuition fees are divided and spent, and the new alcohol policy which has garnered many discussions on campus.

Romero opened the conversation by addressing how the admissions office is working to maintain their efforts to admit a diverse student body despite not being able to directly take race and ethnicity into consideration. Although the admissions office must follow the Supreme Court ruling, she said there are ways to ensure that their enrollment of students of color does not drop or falter radically.

She referred to the admissions process as three buckets: recruitment, the admissions review process, and yielding. With a focus on the yielding stage, she stated that the office will continue to host programs such as DIVE — a program for admitted underrepresented students of color and first-generation students — as a form of outreach.

“The Supreme Court never said we couldn’t go out and recruit the class we wanted to recruit,” she said. “My staff cannot look at race or ethnicity in an application, but a student can talk about these things in their essays, and the third bucket [yielding] is when we bring students to campus, which the Supreme Court did not touch.”

Romero went on to express her surprise for the ruling. “The makeup of the class changes dramatically when race and ethnicity are not taken into consideration,” she said. “I never thought that this would happen in my career, and we are [working] to ensure that the first year class is a diverse community.”

On the topic of the Scripps student community, Armstrong and Bradley discussed support for undocumented students. “It’s a quandary in some regards because we absolutely have those resources and support systems, and sometimes students don’t want to disclose, [and] faculty do not know,” Bradley said.

Armstrong encouraged undocumented students seeking support to reach out to her or Professor of Chemistry Mary Hatcher Skeers. She also encouraged students to generally reach out to faculty they feel comfortable with. “We should help our staff to know of resources if a student were to come with them with this disclosure,” Bradley said.

Regarding student resources, Calvo dove into the distribution of funds amongst different organizations and programs on campus. “If it’s an expense through SAS, we don’t see it, we [only] see when SAS funds CLORGs and [those funds] come back into the college,” he said. “We very rarely question an expense.”

Calvo also addressed the topic of Scripps vans and the use of SAS funds to purchase these vehicles. The program, which was in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, allowed students to check out vans or rent vehicles. He clarified that the expensive nature of insuring the vehicles led Scripps to discontinue the program.

“We are supporting and encouraging the Zipcar program … and we are interested in feedback on that program,” Calvo said. “Almost all of the vehicles are purchased with the college’s funds, and there was one van that was purchased by SAS that was retired.”

Although several other questions were posed, one of the final topics of conversation was about the controversial new alcohol policy. Instated at the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year, it banned students over 21 from holding or consuming hard alcohol on campus. “In the days ahead, we are rolling back that policy,” Bradley said. “It will revert to what it was prior to that.”

Bradley explained that the policy was formed with a “harm reduction lens,” but conversations with students contributed to the ultimate decision to roll back the new policy. In these conversations, students identified how the revised policy could encourage underground activities involving alcohol or movement to other campuses to engage in activities involving alcohol.
“The Guide to Student Life is a living document and we try our very best to get it right but sometimes we don’t and we have the right to swing again,” she said.

Reporting contributions by Aviva Maxon ’24.

Image Source: Sha Bradley