Sarah Paper ’25
This August, Scripps students in leadership positions arrived on campus early for the annual Student Leadership Institute (SLI) Conference. During an informative session about event policies and updates to the Guide to Student Life, it was announced that students, including those of legal drinking age, were not allowed to possess hard alcohol in their residences under a revised alcohol policy.
“This came as quite a bit of a shock to most students [present at SLI],” Scripps Associated Students (SAS) President Lily Dunkin ’24 said. “I really had empathy for the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) because they had to tell us these policies, but had no hand in making the policies.”
Currently, modifications and additions to this guide do not involve student representatives or student input. Scripps students quickly organized themselves and presented their concerns about the possible effects of this policy.
Student members of Residential Life consistently communicated with admin respectfully and earnestly until the policy was recently reversed. Kimai McPhee ’25 was a leader in this effort, working with the SAS president and other ResLife student staff to meet with admin.
A big motivation for the student pushback on this policy was the fact that it could decrease the number of events on campus and led to an increase in outsourcing partying at other schools, in less safe environments. “One thing that I talked to Dr. Sha about is the importance of making sure that people are feeling safe drinking on campus, especially for people who are maybe turning 21 and want to be in a safe environment drinking for their first time,” McPhee said.
The goal of these efforts was to foster an environment where students could learn new things in a safe space, including close proximity to emergency resources such as the Office of Residential Life.. “I would much rather have [one of my residents] drink alcohol in the dorm two bedrooms away than somewhere at Harvey Mudd where I have no idea where they are. It’s a lot easier to facilitate [support] that way,” McPhee said.
Those who advocated for the reversal of this policy emphasized that socializing or having fun is not dependent on consuming alcohol. Yet for those who do choose to partake, being able to do so in a safe and familiar environment encourages healthy drinking behaviors. “We want to make sure students feel like they can get a full nightlife experience on campus, and a safe one as well,” McPhee said.
To address these concerns, Dunkin participated in weekly and bi-weekly meetings with Assistant Vice President Dean Di-Bartolo Beckman and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Sha Bradley. The reversal of this policy at the recent SLI follow-up panel demonstrates that students advocating for themselves results in care and improvements from the leadership at Scripps. This both positively optimizes the institution and benefits their constituents.
“Every meeting we talked about the alcohol policy and how it puts Scripps students in danger and I was really, really touched by their responses,” Dunkin said. “They were really receptive to student concerns.”
Admin listened to these concerns, debated, and eventually chose to reverse the policy but there is still room for more student input, particularly when it comes to impactful policy changes, like those in our Guide to Student Life. Currently, modifications and additions to the guide do not involve student representatives or student input.
Scripps students are still finding ways to make their voices heard. Students sit on the Board of Trustees and in committees with administration where they are full voting members. Additionally, SAS and other students with on-campus initiatives are engaged in open conversations and collaborations with administration. Dunkin, however, still has critical thoughts about where students and admin can engage in Scripps policy-making.
“We have this very parental relationship with Scripps administration where we ask [them] for permission to do things and we get the rules told to us with no chance for student participation in the construction and input on these rules that are enforced on us,” she said. “What ends up happening is [these rules] just end up reinforcing Scripps stereotypes and risky behaviors.”
Image Source: Ellen Hu ’24