Residential Vibrancy Initiative revamps social life at Scripps

This year, Scripps College has seen a shift in student attitudes regarding the school’s party culture. A more party-friendly atmosphere has emerged due to new Campus Life initiatives. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

This year, a new Residential Vibrancy Initiative is redefining party culture at Scripps College, which was previously known as a quiet campus at the 5Cs.

The initiative is focused on strengthening community among Scripps students, Assistant Dean and Director of Campus Life Brenda Ice wrote in an email to TSL.

The initiative has created a community coordinator position in addition to the residential advisors. The community coordinator’s focus is in event programming and helping students connect, rather than in enforcing rules.

Ice wrote that the initiative was a response to student complaints regarding “the lack of connectedness to Scripps beyond academics.”

The new initiative is an effort to “shift the culture and attitude of our students by encouraging them to connect with folks beyond their room or friend group,” she wrote.

The Residential Vibrancy Initiative has attempted to make dorm life more fun and community oriented, which has decreased the number of students taking the party to other campuses, Antara Anand SC ’19 said.

Ally To SC ’19, who was an RA both last year and this year, said there was a tangible shift in how RAs handled parties at Scripps.

Last year we weren’t sure if we were supposed to be shutting down parties or doing noise complaints, so sometimes [the noise complaints] were [handled by an RA] if they felt comfortable,” she said.

As there are only six RAs this year, they “take a much less hands-on approach when it comes to parties,” To said.

During residential life staff training before school began, RAs and CCs were asked to help make the community more vibrant and lively, To said.

“To us, vibrancy means that people … can communicate with each other,” she said.

During residence hall meetings at the beginning of the semester, RAs and CCs told students to change the way they handle noise concerns, said community coordinator Tova Levine SC ’21.

“In the past when anyone had a noise complaint, they would immediately call [Campus Safety], and get everything shut down,” she said. This year, students were encouraged to address the noise-maker directly.

This initial dorm meeting discouraged “sham[ing] other residents into being so quiet,” Levine said.

Scripps students said they have noticed a shift in the campus culture. In past years, Scripps was very strict about parties and noise, Anand said. This led students to “think Scripps is a dry campus which it never has been,” she added.

At the beginning of this semester, Anand and her friends decided to throw a party on a Saturday night. “We were so surprised that no one shut us down,” she said. “It’s really nice to see my fellow upperclassmen friends feeling ownership of our space.”

The changing attitudes toward consumption are not completely new this year, SAS president Irene Yi SC ’19 said.

During her first-year and sophomore year, Yi said she was a member of the Alcohol Ad Hoc Committee that collaborated with the administration, deans, and other student representatives to change Scripps’ policy on alcohol.

Yi said that formerly, if a student is hosting people in their room, the host couldn’t be the one drinking. The committee agreed this policy was illogical and changed it in spring 2016.

New practices surrounding parties, consumption, and noise are being implemented for the first time this year. Yi said the change “has been a very gradual thing, but it has become very observable this year.”

Scripps students say the cultural shift has brought more non-Scripps students to campus to socialize. In September, there was a “Queer Kegger,” or “Quegger,” thrown on Scripps’ campus, she said.

“Students from across the 5Cs came, and it was a very comfortable and safe event that probably would have been shut down in years past,” Levine said.

SAS has also contributed by throwing an unofficial 1-C party called “Diva Dance,” according to Yi. At Diva Dance, SAS played music and raffled diva cups.

Despite the largely positive reaction to the vibrancy initiative, some students prefer the old, quiet Scripps.

“We want people to feel comfortable to have fun in their space and to know their neighbors and do things together,” RA Giovanna Perricone SC ’19 said. “I think a lot of people do choose Scripps for its calm atmosphere, so it’s kind of hard to shift a culture when some people liked it the way it was, and I think you’re always going to have that.”

Anand believes that the vibrancy initiative is important to students, not because it is rebranding Scripps as a “party school,” but because it had allowed students to celebrate the campus community at Scripps.

“It’s really nice to bring people on our home turf after three years of going off campus [and] bring a community that we’ve built over three years to our house,” Anand said.

As an upperclassman, Anand said it was frustrating to see the patterns of off-campus drinking and subsequent binge drinking at pre-games continue in the grades below her.

At non-Scripps parties, it’s more likely that students “don’t know what they’re drinking [and] they might lose their friends,” she said. “It just creates a lot of unsafe situations.”

Without the fear of being shut down or leaving campus to pre-game, Anand said Scripps is now a “safer environment for consumption … and we can have fun on our own terms and create community in that way.”

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