During the first week of the semester, Alex Branscom SC ’21 had bronchitis and a sinus infection. A few weeks later, Branscom, who was one of 38 first-years living at the Claremont Graduate University apartments because Scripps over-enrolled, still hadn’t gotten better. After several trips to the Student Health Center to figure out what was causing her sickness to linger, her doctor suggested she change her living situation.
Branscom now lives in a single room in Clark Hall on Scripps College's main campus and says her new lifestyle is “healthier and more productive.”
She sleeps more now that she doesn’t have to take the shuttle all the way back to CGU for a nap, she said, and exercises more because the gym is two minutes away, instead of 20.
“Being [at CGU], you have to think about daily tasks a lot more,” Branscom said. “And when you don’t have to think about that stuff, you’re able to focus on what’s actually more important, which is school and your well-being.”
Her daily routine at CGU consisted of waking up, brushing her teeth, getting ready, and putting anything she could possibly need for the day in her backpack.
“My back hurt a lot from that,” Branscom said, adding that her backpack usually contained school supplies, running shoes, and a bathing suit in case she decided to go to the pool. She moved out around the time the first-years living at CGU received bicycles and lockers in the student union.
Shortly after she left CGU, two of her suitemates also moved to singles on Scripps’ campus for personal reasons. There are typically between five and seven designated “emergency singles” – rooms that aren't designed to be lived in permanently but are available temporarily for extreme circumstances – in a given year at Scripps, according to Director of Campus Life Brenda Ice. Branscom doesn’t know if her room on campus is a designated emergency single.
To request a room change, students must complete a form with the reason for their request, Ice wrote in an email to TSL. Residential Life will then connect with the student to gather additional information about their living situation.
Anna Wessels SC ’21, who also lived at CGU, said isolation was the main factor that led her to request a room change.
“I wasn’t eating, and I felt sick every morning. I just wanted to go home so bad,” she said. “I thought that I was just really, really homesick and then I realized that it’s a really big change moving from your house to an apartment on the third floor.”
Wessels moved into a triple in Clark Hall after a room opened up. Now, she says, she can be by herself without being totally alone.
“You can walk the halls, and there’s people. You can hear other people’s voices, and that was a really big difference for me,” Wessels said.
She admits, however, that moving on campus was yet another adjustment.
“It was like starting over again – getting used to new things, moving into a room with new people. But gradually I got used to that too,” Wessels said.
This hasn't been the case for every student in the apartments, however. Though the Scripps administration couldn’t talk about specific students' situations, the Dean of Students’ office confirmed there are still 34 students living at CGU.
One of those students, Alexa Sanchez SC ’21, has given up hope of moving out of the apartments this year. She understands that some students have real medical reasons for being relocated on campus, but also thinks there are some first-years whose parents advocated on their behalf for them to move onto campus.
“That’s definitely been an unfair advantage that has allowed for some people to move, which is annoying because even if you advocate for yourself, it’s still not enough,” Sanchez said.
One of her daily obstacles, in addition to minimizing her loneliness, is feeling safe; she lives in the same building as older graduate students.
“To get into a dorm [on campus], you have to swipe your ID,” Sanchez said. “But to get into CGU, yeah there are gates with codes but they’re open all the time, so you don’t necessarily feel the same safeness that you would feel on campus.”
Her struggles that come with living at CGU will end at the close of this academic year, but housing students there might not.
Coach Max, the transportation company from which Scripps is renting the CGU shuttle, said Scripps has reserved the shuttle until May and has not yet told the company if they will need it again next year. However, one of the shuttle drivers said his contract with Scripps lasts at least another year. Scripps could not provide information about the shuttle driver’s contract.
If Scripps continues to house students at CGU, Sanchez thinks a part of the building should be sectioned off for only Scripps students to create more community since the students are currently dispersed among different floors and buildings.
“We knew each other from the shuttle. But the shuttle was a five-minute drive, so after that we all went to our separate rooms and everyone was spread out,” she said.