October’s BeHeard forum, held Oct. 27 at the Motley, focused on fostering community, improving dorm life and the creation of a student union. Scripps’ Associated Students (SAS) began discussion with the idea of a first-year only dorm. Reactions to this idea were mixed. Some students said they would like to be completely surrounded by other first-years, which could help build class unity. Others felt that a first-year dorm could become cliquish, or they had positive relationships with upper class women in their dorms as first-years. The dorms’ living rooms were also a topic of discussion. These rooms are used as quiet study spaces or places for group meetings. However, Scripps already has browsing rooms set aside as quiet study spaces, and living and recreation rooms are infrequently used as places for all dorm residents to socialize. As a way to open up living rooms so more people can use them, SAS plans to purchase more couches to fill the living rooms. As the evening progressed, students began to warm up, and ideas and opinions flowed.
One of the biggest concerns voiced at the forum was the sense of community at Scripps. As Beth Olesen (’10) put it, “every year, we are always concerned about a lack of community.” In the past, neither SAS nor the student body has been able to initiate a lasting and satisfactory solution to this percieved lack of community.
The idea of organizing dorms around a common theme or interest was presented as a way to build community. Many students, however, raised questions on how dorms were to be organized. Suggestions included substance-free, quiet study and loud dorms, or dorms organized by major and extracurricular interests. However, some students said they do not want to give up neighbors with diverse interests for a community based on such specific ones. Others expressed fear that a certain interest or community may be assigned to a dorm they do not wish to live in. “Students don’t have to sacrifice dorm choice for community,” Simrat Dugal (’10) said, “but they may have to sacrifice room choice.” Discussion also centered around the idea that students shouldn’t separate themselves into the more desirable single rooms; instead, living in groups of doubles in the same hall could foster a sense of community, as friends would be more likely to keep their doors open. Hannah Pickar (’11) also suggested that large groups of friends be able to draw into the same hall.
The creation of a student union is also in the works, but SAS is still searching for a location. Part of Denison’s basement, the offices in Vita Nova Hall and SARLO are all projected places for a space for students. SAS will send out surveys about these projected changes on campus before taking substantive action. The next BeHeard forum takes place Dec. 1 and will focus on enviromental issues at Scripps.