Ellen Hu ’24
For some Scripps students, the stress of finals spans further than just worrying about schoolwork — worrying about where they’re going to stay over winter break is a more pressing subject.
On Nov. 11, Scripps College sent out an email to its student body regarding protocols for the Thanksgiving and winter breaks. While most of the email focused on COVID-19 testing protocols, the message also included information regarding dorm closures.
“All residence halls will close Saturday, December 18 at 12 noon. Residence halls will re-open after winter break on Sunday, January 16 at 10am,” said Dean Carmen Brown. “Please be sure to plan your travel and flights accordingly.
Olive Hue ’22 is facing challenges because of this development. Their at-home situation has not been supportive of their mental health due to their trans identity. Now, they don’t feel comfortable re-entering that environment during the break.
“I don’t really have a strong support system at home, and I feel like the space that I have cultivated here at Scripps is just much better,” Hue said. “It’s just been so much better for my mental health to be here.”
Having first reached out to their primary contact dean asking about the possibility of getting on-campus housing, Hue received communication redirecting them to a different primary contact dean, which resulted in more confusion.
Eventually, Hue was informed that everyone needed to leave campus on Dec. 18 and that there would not be any exceptions. No explanation was provided. They were then redirected to the financial aid website as a resource.
“I was kind of confused what I was supposed to do with that,” Hue said. “I’m already on financial aid and I mentioned that I am financially insecure so I don’t have the money to find another place to stay.”
Hue would have preferred if they were provided with a person to discuss the situation with instead of just being sent to financial aid. “After the interaction with the deans, I just felt discouraged,” Hue said. “I don’t know who else I could talk to because the deans are supposed to be the support point person.”
After communication from two deans telling them that they would not be able to get on-campus housing, Hue is not sure what their next steps should be. They are currently seeking support in the form of mutual aid.
“I have sought out support from the community because I don’t feel like I’m getting it from the institution,” Hue said. To them, this lack of support has become a common trend among Scripps’ response to these issues.
International students are also facing a similar challenge. Harriet He ’25 is from China and would have to be quarantined for 28 days after purchasing an expensive ticket back home.
He first reached out to Dean Debra Gisvold in October with questions about obtaining on-campus housing over the break. Since then, she and other international students have reached out several more times.
Dean Gisvold got back to them, writing that she would send out an email with more information and a request form. “I just kept writing to her about winter housing because I’m anxious,” He said.
On Nov. 3, international students in the Scripps community were sent an email by Dean Gisvold with information about obtaining on-campus housing over the break. “This will be for students who are not able to travel home internationally due to pandemic travel restrictions and who do not have alternative housing,” said Dean Gisvold.
While students were asked to fill out a request form by Nov. 10, He has yet to hear back. She is currently in communication with another international student who is facing the same problem. Both are hoping to get confirmation that they will either have or not have housing over the break.
“It’s causing me unnecessary stress,” He said. “When I think about it, I’m just like ‘where am I going to live?’ and I don’t know.”
Similarly to Hue, He is unsure of her next steps. She is currently thinking of searching for an Airbnb off-campus, but has put it off while waiting to hear back from the school.
“If we can’t find support from Scripps, who can we find it from?” Hue said. “Scripps says that they value diversity and inclusion, but I don’t feel included or like I’m being heard and I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way.”
The last day of finals occurs on Dec. 17. Scripps College’s winter break begins after all finals are completed, and students will return to campus on Jan. 18 for the spring semester.
Image Source: Ellen Hu ’24