By Liz Lyon (’12)
With a new semester and the return of students from study abroad, there was a huge housing crunch for returning and transfer students. With about 920 beds on campus, the College had to find additional space for 90 transfer and returning students, 30 of which are currently in Pomona dorms. The housing crunch has been a problem for the past several years, which Scripps’ administrative bodies are in the processes of addressing, spearheaded by President Bettison-Varga and Vice President James Manifold.
The Revelle House has been identified as a site for a future dormitory; however, there has been some controversy over the site. About a quarter of students and alumnae surveyed last fall think that having the president on-campus is important or very important. Although 75 percent of respondents said that it was not very important, Scripps’ Board members are keen to have the president and her family remain a very visible presence on campus. If the Revelle House is selected as a site, President Bettison-Varga and her family will relocate to a house chosen by the College on one of the nearby streets in Claremont. Of living in the Revelle House, Bettison-Varga says, “We have really enjoyed being on campus and opening the Revelle House and gardens on various occasions to students, faculty, staff, and members of the community. Living on campus is a wonderful way for me to feel more directly connected to the life of students, although it is very quiet in between semesters!”
As an alternative, the northeast corner of campus, just above the Tiernan soccer field where the service building currently stands, is also under consideration as a site for a dormitory. This second site has yet to come under review by the Board of Trustees; it is an irregular space that would not keep many of the structural elements which give Scripps buildings continuity, such as courtyards and hidden fountains. Because a site has not officially been chosen, and will not be chosen at least until March 2011, the project cannot move forward much further.
As Manifold explains, “It takes at least a year to design a building, and it takes another year and a half to construct a building. We’re looking at a project that will take between three and five years.”
The Buildings and Grounds Committee, which is spearheading the project, wishes to keep the composition of the dorms similar by including a mix of singles, doubles and suites. They aim to build a new dorm with enough space for 100 beds.
“Looking at how much we have fit onto the 30 acres of Scripps land, the College is very efficient at using space.” Manifold is confident that Scripps will move into the future with this new dorm, adapting the land to address Scripps’ current issues . However, for the next three graduating classes from Scripps, such news comes as a disappointment because some students will continue to be forced to live off-campus because there are not enough rooms available.