Scripps College will be restructuring the student positions in its residential life program next year in an effort to address criticisms voiced during a nearly two-week resident advisor strike last April. The college will be reducing the number of RAs and their responsibilities as well as adding several new community coordinators.
The RAs and CCs will work together to build community next academic year, leaving policy enforcement to professional Residential Life staff, Director of Campus Life Brenda Ice wrote in an email to TSL.
Scripps currently has 20 RAs on staff, and will drop to just six next year, with the addition of 27 CCs.
Ice also wrote that RAs’ time commitments will be reduced, and the position will be limited to juniors and seniors only.
“With the policy management happening at the professional staff level, RAs and CCs can focus their energies on building community such that students begin to develop their own community standards and expectations of one another that should ultimately require less assistance from the [Residential] Life staff,” Ice wrote in an email to TSL.
CCs will be responsible for engaging students with the residential community by planning social events, Ice wrote. CCs will receive a $5,000 stipend, and their time commitments will be fewer than those of an RA.
These changes are the result of discussion by the Residential Life Review Committee — a committee made up of faculty, staff, and students — that met last year to discuss potential changes to Residential Life.
The Review Committee also took into account criticism that the RA position was too demanding and didn’t consider RAs’ academic and personal obligations, which surfaced during the RA strike last April.
“We demand that Scripps College restructure the Residential Advisor role so it is more sustainable for students, and more closely embodies restorative justice,” the 2016-2017 RAs wrote in a letter the RAs delivered to President Lara Tiedens last year during the strike.
The letter specifically highlighted the 15-25 hours RAs were required to work per week, and their responsibilities to be on-call to aid students in emergency situations, which they described as “draining for even the most capable RAs.”
It also discussed RAs’ roles as policy enforcers, and stated that Scripps disciplinary policies “[affect] marginalized students more than students with money and privilege.” Additionally, it stated that RAs are required to organize events that “are often redundant and unengaging for other students.”
Tova Levine SC ’21, a CC for next year, said she is glad Residential Life is focusing on community building next year, because the residential community hasn’t felt robust to her this year.
“It’s so quiet. There’s no buzz of activity that you’d expect at a college campus,” she said. “[Brenda Ice, the director of campus life,] is just trying to make it a more stimulating community where people are brought together.”
Lindsay Canaday SC ’21 said she thinks adding CC positions is a good idea in theory, but worries the changes will not adequately reduce RAs’ time commitments.
“I’m afraid that the fewer RAs will still be held accountable for the responsibilities that the current RAs have, so they will be put under more stress, even though they have the support of community coordinators,” she said.