By Megan Petersen ‘15
Christie Kweon welcomes guests with an offer to have a seat on her brand-new and incredibly comfortable couch. The Scripps College sophomore has ample space in her new room—plenty of room for all her usual dorm furniture plus the couch and a mini fridge—because she has her own room this year. But this luxury, not available to many sophomores, didn’t come without a price. Kweon and 22 other Scripps students landed single rooms this year by leaving Scripps altogether and moving to Pomona.
For several years Scripps has had problems with what many call a “housing crunch.” The College’s 2007 Strategic Plan outlines plans for growing the student body (currently just over 950) to 1,000 by 2017. The plan states that this can only happen if the student-faculty ratio and class size remain consistent and if endowment goes up, but the plan never specifically mentions new living spaces. Though a new dormitory is rumored to be in the planning stages, more first-years are living in “forced” doubles and triples (e.g. a room designed to be a single is now a double, a double is now a triple, etc.), more upperclassmen are sharing living spaces, and there are precious few suites and single rooms available, often going to juniors and seniors with higher room draw numbers.
And, now, there is spillover housing available on the third floor of Smiley Dormitory, smack in the middle of Pomona’s campus.
Though the third floor of Smiley is in some ways equipped specifically for Scripps students—they have their own Scripps Residential Advisor, for example—the dorm is still much different from what many Scripps students are used to. An average-looking Pomona dormitory, Smiley might be considered a far cry from their home campus, which Forbes ranked among the most beautiful campuses in the world in 2010. Additionally, Pomona’s housing isn’t segregated by sex, which one would think might bother Scripps students accustomed to their women’s-only living space.
But Maxine Yakobe (’14) and Natasha Kraus (’15) were both more concerned about living on the third floor of a building without air conditioning than the dorm’s aesthetics or the genders of its residents. Heat was among the first things Kraus mentioned when asked about living at Smiley, and Yakobe said she was sometimes unable to sleep on hot nights.
Despite her discomfort, this is Yakobe’s second year living at Smiley. “It has a really cool dynamic,” she said, because it feels like a bunch of students living in one big suite rather than a floor full of singles. “I’ve made lots of Pomona friends and really broadened my social group,” Yakobe said.
“It really brings you out of your bubble,” Kraus added. Both emphasized the convenience of being so close to Pomona’s Smith Campus Center, which holds the Coop Fountain and hosts parties such as Pub various events throughout the year. “I like the proximity to 5C social life,” Yakobe said.
Kweon, who lives just down the hall, also says she enjoys Smiley, but tries not to compare living at Pomona and living at Scripps. “Obviously these are two different colleges. If you’re going to compare, you’re going to have to highlight the negatives more than the positives.”
Though she has to leave the dorm early to make the trek up to her morning Core III class, Kweon says Smiley doesn’t inconvenience Scripps students as much as people might think. “There’s this perception at Scripps and Pomona that this is the worst dorm” or that people who live at Smiley are “trying to detach from Scripps,” which she asserts is untrue. Kweon works at the Sallie Tiernan Field House and also has three classes at Scripps this semester, and said that she often finds it convenient to spend time at Scripps between commitments, studying either in the Student Union or the Denison Library, and come back to Smiley at the end of the day.
Many Pomona students don’t have an opinion about the Scripps takeover of their living space. Antonela Miho, a Pomona sophomore who also lives in Smiley, was open to the idea of spillover students coming to her college. If another college needs extra living space, “we have it,” she said.
Other Pomona students are not so welcoming. “She doesn’t even go here”— one Pomona sophomore, who asked that he remain anonymous, referenced the movie “Mean Girls” to express his frustration at having been deferred housing last fall, thus not knowing where he’d be living until three days before move-in this August. “Why is their housing secured, while mine was in the wind?”
This is the second year that Pomona has set aside rooms for overflow Scripps students, and, with no new dorm in the foreseeable future, the third floor of Smiley may be Scripps territory for several more years to come.