The Fight for Funding, SAS to Raise Student Fees

May 1, 2024
4 mins read

Charlotte Korer ’27
Staff Writer

Many Scripps students feel that Scripps hasn’t been able to meet the levels of campus vibrancy other 5Cs have achieved through parties, clubs, and school-wide events. There is the stereotype that students stay at Scripps for a night in or a pregame rather than the party itself on a Saturday night.

“I noticed that on the other campuses, especially Pomona, clubs were much more active,” Charlotte Diamond-Pott ’27 said. “They posted parties almost every weekend where Scripps only had one social event all semester.”

While this may be the case, this is not due to a lack of trying from the students of Scripps. Scripps Associated Students (SAS) has been working tirelessly this year to try and keep up with the other 5Cs, not just for parties but for funding in general.

“The reason that we prioritize funding clubs in a way that is comparable to the other colleges, is because it is the expectation of the consortium that each school contributes based on the percentage of the students from their respective institutions that participate in the 5C clubs,” SAS President Lily Dunkin ’24 said. “Scripps students deserve to take part in 5C programming and we love how much our students get involved! The reality is, however, that with the smallest total operating budget to fund clubs under these expectations, we are having to make significant cuts to our Scripps specific budget in order to match the other 5C contributions.”

As a result, parties and events have been sacrificed to ensure Scripps clubs stay afloat. While SAS allocates funding, the student government works predominantly independently from the administration, representing the Scripps student body. But this sense of disconnect has come to a point where SAS is working much harder than any of the other 5Cs to have Scripps represented.

“Our SAS members are unique in that we have been able to have an incredible impact on our student body with remarkable flexibility and persistence,” Dunkin said. “This is despite increases in the costs of having events at Scripps College due to changes in events protocol and guidelines including the requirements that SAS pays for fencing, additional campus safety officers, additional bathrooms, etc. This is also the second year in which we have paid our members modest stipends, like the other colleges, for their work.”

So why does the solution lie in SAS raising student fees? What even are student fees? In an email, Dunkin explained the purpose of the fees. “Student fees are the fees used by the student government to help fund clubs, student initiatives and host events!” she said. “The Student Government has a separate bank account from the school as we are a separate 501c3.”

501c3s are groups classified as beneficial to the community that qualify as tax-exempt charitable organizations. In this case, SAS is working to benefit the Scripps community and has funding separate from the college to do so. But, it is extremely limited.

“The student fees are separate from tuition, but they appear on your statement from the school,” Dunkin emphasized. “For students on financial aid, the change in student fees will not affect you. For students who are not receiving aid, there will be an increase that will be reflected in your statement.”

SAS has budgeted its funds incredibly tightly to keep up with the other 5Cs when it comes to clubs. Scripps has the smallest student fee of the Claremont Colleges and it has remained the same since 2017.

“The Student Fees at Scripps College are currently $218. We are proposing a $82 fee increase, totaling a sum of $300,” Dunkin explained. “The reason that student fees have stayed so incredibly low, and partially the reason that our proposed increase is so modest in comparison to the other colleges, is that with a yearly estimated expense of over $87,000 each year, the student government has been hesitant to contribute to any financial hardship imposed on students. Even an increase as small, relative to tuition, as $82, is not politically popular at Scripps College.”

It is important to note that all of CMC and Harvey Mudd will be increasing their budget for the upcoming year, not just Scripps. Scripps’ new student fee of $300 will finally match Pitzer’s while remaining below Harvey Mudd ($351), CMC ($420), and Pomona ($420) for the upcoming year. To ensure that SAS doesn’t go neglected for another 6 years, Dunkin encourages future SAS members to reevaluate the student fees comparatively to the other 5Cs and inflation in the next three years.

Dunkin shared an anecdote that was given to the SAS Board during the vote on whether or not to increase student fees:

Our freshman class president was hoping to participate in the event planning for the Freshman Class 5C party! She did an amazing time collaborating with the other presidents and the event was a huge success. But she often found herself having to advocate extra hard to be included and for Scripps students to be prioritized in the event planning. This was because while the Pomona freshman class president had $4,000 dollars to spend for the semester on Freshman programing, our Freshman class president is allocated $150 per semester. Because our capacity is limited by our budget, the other colleges dismiss Scripps as a worthwhile collaborator and our students dismiss Scripps as a place for campus vibrancy. In the end, our Freshman Class President hand made decorations and relied on the volunteer help from her friends! 

Our freshman class president has done an incredible job stretching the less than 50 cents per freshman student that her budget allocates a semester. However, this is an unsustainable budget given the level of support expected by the student body.

Dunkin emphasized that raising student fees “is not a decision that was made lightly. This is the unanimous decision of SAS after many meetings and conversations, that was then approved by the Presidential Advisory Committee to be submitted to the board of Trustees.”

Finally, how will this affect Scripps student life? “This means more vibrancy!” Dunkin said. “More club funding! More support for our student leaders! And generally a greater capacity for SAS to continue to positively impact our community!”

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