Who Is Ready to BeHeard: SAS Revives a Scripps Student Forum

March 21, 2024
2 mins read

Lucy Jaffee CMC ’26
Staff Writer

On the evening of Feb. 29, Scripps students sipped bubble tea and entered a JellyCat raffle as they waited patiently for a unique Scripps Associated Students (SAS) presentation. When SAS members took The Motley Coffeehouse stage, students cheered to welcome the first BeHeard forum of the semester.

The SAS slideshow stated, “The purpose of the BeHeard forums is to offer Scripps students an opportunity to voice their concerns about their overall experience.” At BeHeard, students can offer their opinions on topics such as academics and campus social life, or express what aspects of Scripps they love and want to continue to see. “We want to hear students’ voices about anything and everything,” said Sabrina Kung ’26, member of SAS Senate.

Historically, SAS has hosted town hall-style forums, including BeHeard. During the 2014-15 academic year, according to SAS’s website, there were BeHeard forums titled “Fossil Fuel Divestment,” “Leed Certification,” and “Transgender Policy at Scripps.” A SAS Facebook post from 2012 invites students to discuss “Silencing and Tone Policing.”

However, BeHeard forums stopped before any current students began attending Scripps. In Blessing Roland Magiji’s ’24 time as first-year class president, they learned of BeHeard’s history from older SAS members. With Roland-Magaji heading as SAS Executive Vice President, the senate mobilized to re-introduce BeHeard to the community.

“It’s incredibly important for Scripps community members to exchange ideas, share perspectives, and help each other foster the tight-knit and supportive community we are so proud of,” read one of SAS’ slides.

The senators projected a QR code that linked to an anonymous forum in which students could express their concerns. Answers trickled in, ranging from administrative feedback like “Why is Scripps the only 5C where only [the] student government can plan and host events?” to social requests like “bring back queggers.”

Students described Emotional Support Animals as under stress after a fire drill, which the Residential Life (ResLife) office had not notified the campus of. Others chimed in, expressing their discontent with the office. “ResLife hates students,” one submission said. “Why do they work against us instead of with us?”

In response, SAS suggested the next BeHeard forum focus specifically on addressing ResLife concerns. “It’s clear from today that people have different concerns best answered by admin[istration],” Roland-Magaji said.

SAS, as a liaison between students and administrators, proposed inviting a ResLife staff member to the next meeting. “I think it would be productive if students could voice their concerns directly at ResLife,” Caroline Sundal ’24 said.

Information collected at the BeHeard forum is jotted down by senate members to initiate conversation at regular meetings with the administration. However, SAS does not have jurisdiction to change campus policies directly. “Certain issues are swept under the rug because they aren’t under your purview,” Roland-Magiji said.

SAS hosts weekly senate meetings in the Student Union on Sundays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. that all Scripps students are allowed to attend. However, for several attendees, BeHeard was their first interaction with SAS since joining Scripps.

“I don’t feel like they have a lot of open meetings or ways to connect with SAS without becoming a part of the board,” Amanda Krausz ‘27 said. She believes hosting BeHeard forums more regularly, weekly or monthly, would be helpful for students.

BeHeard was hosted in The Motley Coffeehouse where Scripps students frequently drink coffee while lounging, studying, and chatting with friends. Two students said that they attended the forum because they were already working inside The Motley and decided to participate. “This feels like a safe space for Scripps students and I hope other people feel that way too,” Sundal said.

Beyond gauging student input, reinstalling the BeHeard forum helps to inform future members of SAS. Information can be recorded about what topics were relevant during a given academic year if any resolutions were taken, or how issues have developed throughout Scripps’ history.

“There is a lot of institutional memory being lost by the cycle of students, and the forums give us the opportunity to archive student opinion on different parts of the Scripps experience,” Roland-Magiji said.

The forums can provide a safe space for Scripps students to voice their opinions on topical issues concerning the campus. With support from SAS representatives, hopefully BeHeard can facilitate meaningful change.

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