Institution and Injury: Ali Power’s Experience as a Former CC

Ellen Hu ’24

After tearing her ACL during a rugby event, Ali Power ’25 did not expect that her position as the Community Coordinator (CC) of Dorsey would be on the line. Yet, this soon became a reality over winter break.

On Jan. 10, Power received an email from Dean Carmen Brown, head of Campus Life and Power’s Primary Contact Dean, encouraging her to take a leave of absence due to the time that she would be away from campus for recovery following necessary surgery. Alongside this message, Dean Brown informed Power that her CC role would have to be re-evaluated for the spring semester.

The conditions for this situation were laid out in a follow-up email sent on the same day by Power’s supervisor Winnie Bee. “Unfortunately, should you be out for 6 weeks, you will be unable to fulfill your role as a CC,” Bee wrote. “What that means is that you would not receive $3,000 room credit for spring 2023 and you would not participate in spring training this week. However, you would be able to stay in your room in Dorsey.”

Power, a New Hampshire native, had planned to fly back to California two days after receiving the email. In a Zoom call with Bee to discuss the situation, she was given 48 hours to make a final decision: either put off her surgery or take a leave of absence. If she decided to take a leave of absence, she would have to find a last-minute way to move out of her room.

The decision to take a leave of absence was difficult for Power. Having already taken a semester off in 2021 due to the pandemic, she did not want to have to put her graduation off by a year. Nonetheless, staying on-campus without her CC role was not an option due to financial difficulties. Similarly, the option to have a parent fly out and help her move, as Bee encouraged, was not possible.

“It’s just very upsetting for her to be saying these things without having a hold on the situation,” Power said. “In my head I know it isn’t an option for me.”

Power officially submitted to her employers that she would be taking a leave of absence on Jan. 11. By Jan. 20, she had moved out of her room. On Jan. 12, a different CC was asked to move into Power’s old room.

Power’s injury was sustained in late October while competing in a casual rugby tournament in Irvine. She was originally diagnosed with a dislocated kneecap at a local urgent care, but over the next few days her knee began to swell to sizes she had never seen before. She continued physical therapy with the hopes that her injury would heal within a month.

“The first two weeks were like hell because Scripps is the least accessible campus possible,” Power said. “It took me four days to get accommodations which was ridiculous because I could not walk and had a class at South Pomona. I couldn’t do anything.”

During this time, Power was continuing her work as a CC. Students who serve this role are required to put on one dorm event each month in addition to volunteering to run three Office of Student Engagement (OSE) events and two OSE Wednesday tablings during the course of the semester.

To account for her injury, Power was able to trade her OSE events with co-workers so that she would have more time to recover. Communication between Power and Bee was also frequent. “I felt like she was pretty understanding and really saw me going through it, which is one of the reasons I was so mad about the way that she handled the situation,” Power said. “She saw how hard it was for me in the fall.”

When Power returned back to New Hampshire during winter break, she was able to get another MRI of her knee, diagnosing her with a torn ACL and torn meniscus on Dec. 30. Recovery would require reconstructive surgery and a six week resting period where she would not be able to physically live on campus.

Initially, Power had assumed she would be able to enroll in the spring 2023 semester while participating virtually for the weeks she would be away from campus. The majority of her professors had agreed to let her Zoom in, and she believed it would be possible to carry out her CC duties while only missing one event.

With her job being one of the last things on her mind, the emails received from both Dean Brown and Bee were shocking. Power’s bags were already packed to return to campus, but she felt like she had no option other than to take a break from school for the semester.

“I can tell through the tone of the email that there’s no negotiating within this,” Power said. “It seems they have made this decision on their own, and there’s no conversation that’s like, ‘Okay are there other options? Are there other ways to go about this?’ It’s like, if you choose to get this surgery, you’re not going to have this job.”

How this was done troubled Power even further because of her prior understanding regarding employment by the office. “We were always told if you’re involved in something that could end up with you getting fired… they would have a conversation with you regarding your employment first and then more on from there,” she said. “I don’t think any of us realized that ResLife could just straight up say, ”You are unable to do this job, we are taking it away from you.”

In the fall semester, Power greatly enjoyed her time as a CC. Originally inspired by her sister, a Scripps alumni who graduated in 2021, Power wanted to be someone who could create spaces for people to interact and get to know the people she was living with. “Freshman year was a little crazy, and I just wanted to do more and see what capacity Scripps had the ability to do things,” she said.

Following her decision to take a leave of absence, Power communicated that she would be stepping away from her role to her co-workers who had already returned to campus for their training. Bee also spoke about this during training, but based on what her co-workers later told her, Power was upset by the way information was presented.

“I felt like she had forced my hand to make this decision that I didn’t necessarily want to make and then was making it seem like to my co-workers, ‘Ali is doing this out of her best interest, for the sake of her health…’,” Power said.

Meanwhile, Power began communicating with the Office of Residential Life regarding her move-out process. While she initially believed that she would have until Jan. 23 to move out, she was soon informed that she would instead have 48 hours to move out before the previously provided deadline.

“I don’t know how, physically, I’m expected to do this,” Power said. After requesting an additional extension for this period, she was informed that the standard move-out procedure for students taking a leave of absence is a four hour period without ID card activation. She would also not be allowed to sleep in her room during this period.

“To me, that sounds like someone who is being kicked out of college, not someone who is just taking a leave and is likely to come back as a Scripps student,” Power said. “‘It is just mind boggling to me.”

Throughout the process, Power felt like her requests were not being heard. “It’s hard because I know Winnie personally — she’s my boss,” Power said. “I know the people that work in the ResLife office because they’re also my bosses. They know me as an individual, as a person, as a student. And I just felt like ‘no one is listening, I’m yelling into an empty room.’”

When Power eventually arrived on campus to move out during the first week of classes, challenges arose while attempting to get into her dorm. During that week, several Scripps students were facing issues with the use of their ID cards. In addition to these random shut-offs, her ID was officially shut off the night before it was supposed to.

“It was so frustrating,” Power said. “I’m literally sitting around just waiting for people to get in so that I am able to get the last of my stuff out.”

This, in addition to the fact that she lived on the second floor of Dorsey, made the process more challenging. Still walking with a torn ACL, she was eventually able to pack and move out of her room within the 48 hours given with the assistance of the rugby team. Power had no direct conversation with Bee while on campus.

“I was feeling so done with them,” Power said. “I felt like even if I had asked for help there was nothing they were going to do for me because it just felt like they really did not care what was going on in my situation, they just wanted to make sure that I was out of my room so that they could put someone else in there.”

Following a six-day car ride back to New Hampshire, Power was able to receive her surgery and is currently in recovery. Reflecting on this experience has changed her perception of the Office of Residential Life, and not in a good light.

“It really just felt like a business — that’s how they were viewing me and the other CCs,” Power said. “As their employee I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not just feeling like I was just being dismissed by them and so disposable… It just left things on a really sour note.”

Image Source: Ellen Hu ’24

1 Comment

  • ResLife needs a gut check on being kinder — I have seen this as a parent. VERY disappointing. Also the protocols around covid isolation defy logic and science relative to the other 5c approaches (total isolation for 5 days / not being able to chat with others in isolation and not being able to go outside). I thought this was an institution around enlightenment and empowerment of women.