The Scripps Voice Editorial Staff
No matter how excited we all were about leaving home and starting a new chapter, we were all a little nervous coming to college. Adjusting to a new environment, living in the dorms, and learning how to learn in a college setting were—and still can be—daunting tasks. But Scripps College and the 5Cs say they seek to make that transition easier by providing a plethora of resources for incoming students. From the CLORGS provided by SCORE, to 5C resources like the QRC and the Advocates for Survivals of Sexual Assault, students are told that there will always be someone to turn to when they need help.
Still, many students say that this is not the case.
Alexandra Vallas (’15) was somewhat disappointed in the religious resources afforded her when she arrived on campus. “As a born-and-raised Greek Orthodox girl, the church has always been a large part of my life, providing guidance and contributing hugely to my culture and experiences,” she said.
“However, when I came in as a freshman, I felt like there was nothing offered for people of my faith.” Greek Orthodoxy, said Vallas, is rich in history and tradition, so more contemporary, multifaith services leave something to be desired. Additionally, Vallas said she’s had a difficult time connecting with other Greek Orthodox students.
“Heck, the only person I’ve met here of the same faith is someone I met in a car on the way to the airport, which basically means I am better able to connect to people of my faith through random chance rather than the services Scripps provides,” she said.
The MacAlister Center’s website states that holiday services and meetings for Greek Orthodox students occur, but provide no contact information or other direction for such students. “Don’t get me wrong—I really do understand how few of us there are here, and I think the interdenominational approach is sufficient for a lot of people. It just isn’t enough for me, and access to some of that 2,000-year-old tradition is something I really miss while I’m at Scripps,” said Vallas.
Other Scripps students also feel under-accommodated for other reasons. An anonymous first-year said that she was excited to get involved with clubs similar to those she’d participated in in high school, but had a hard time getting involved while adjusting to college. “By the time I settled in and felt reasonably comfortable with the transition to college, I felt like everyone had already packed up and went home, and it was suddenly so much more difficult to find out about the various resources on campus,” she said.
The student, who identifies as queer and is Jewish, also said that she somewhat expected having to work to find a supportive space on campus, but that she actually felt isolated for other reasons.
“Rather than feeling alienated due to my religious background or queerness, I felt mostly alienated due to the for years,” she said. “Above all, though I was aware of counseling offered at the 5Cs, I felt as if there wasn’t a support network for others dealing with depression or similar issues.”
She continued, “Oftentimes, I found that when I was dealing with a particularly low point, it wasn’t professional counseling I wanted or needed, but just a support group on campus or a community I could be a part of.”
While some students feel that they are without resources, others take issue with being compelled to use such resources. Selene Hsu (’15) said that she opted not to remain in the 5Cs’ Asian American student organizations after her first year because she felt the organizations’ work and goals did not align with her experiences.
In high school, “I did not feel different because I was treated with the respect and courtesies that I felt all, if not most students, were given,” Hsu said. “In general, we were all in the same boat.”
“It wasn’t until I came to Scripps that I started feeling different because of my race,” she continued. “I would be called, emailed, and be given invitations to special events that were ‘exclusively’ for Asian students. I was given so much attention and privilege to the point where it made me fairly uncomfortable. These events and invitations just drew so much attention to how different I am to the rest of the population, when I don’t identify myself as different.”
Still, Hsu said she felt that the organizations have an important place on campus. “Some Asians do not feel the same way I do and I encourage them to find a way to make their experiences at the 5C’s work for them,” she said. “But trying to make me feel different or just highlighting, even celebrating my differences does nothing for me.”
Another first year, who asked she remain anonymous, but describes her self as “a half-and-halfie,” half Latina, half white, also felt that Scripps’ resources were somewhat problematic and unwelcoming. “I don’t know any other language besides English and have [therefore] been labeled and pushed away by groups that claim to be all-encompassing for people of a certain race.”
“That’s not to say that they aren’t amazing resources for some,” she added. “They just aren’t always the all-encompassing spaces they claim to be. You should never have to meet a certain superficial unmentioned criteria (that is, speaking the language of the culture, or being less than second generation) to be accepted in a support group on campus.”
Another anonymous student, a Scripps senior, came to Scripps shortly after checking out of rehab. Staying clean and sober on campus was a big priority, but she found virtually no resources to help her. “I went to HEO, Monsour, I spoke with a campus drug and alcoholic counselor—I event went to mass and talked to the priest,” she said. “I’m not religious, but I was losing it, and I knew if I drank I would end up dropping out of school. They were like, ‘there aren’t any other students like you,’ which is bullshit. It was very alienating.”
No student should be simply told there’s nothing for them, but perhaps the issue goes deeper than the existence or non-existence of student resources; perhaps the issue is the over-generalization of students’ experiences. While there is infrastructure for the existence of such groups, and there are many avenues for students to create resources where none currently exist, there needs to be a broader discussion about the gaps in the system. There needs to be a forum for students to connect with others needing the same missing resources.
Most importantly, first year students should not necessarily be told that they have all the resources they need at their fingertips or that they should have all of these things figured out.
What do you think, Scripps? Share your experiences and opinions with us on our website, voice.scrippscollege.edu.