Following pushback from students, Scripps College announced it will allow students to continue storing belongings left on campus after their departure in March.
The Sept. 23 email from Director of Campus Life Brenda Ice and Executive Director of Facilities Management Josh Reeder said that if campus remains closed in the spring, students will be responsible for covering the costs of shipping items or continuing to store them.
The decision walked back the college’s Sept. 16 announcement that it would no longer store student belongings left on campus past Dec. 31, which upset some students unsure of whether they’d be on campus come spring. Before the Sept. 23 reversal, students would have had the choice to either have their belongings shipped home free of charge over an estimated period of 10-12 weeks or have their belongings donated to charity.
Belongings left on campus in March have since been transferred to a “secure but massive warehouse” following Scripps’ partnership with professional movers and an outdoor vendor to store items, according to a June 15 email from Ice and Reeder.
On July 22, Ice sent an email to returning students about their stored items in light of the transition to online learning. Students were given three options: letting their items remain in storage until in-person instruction resumes, picking up their items from the college or shipping their items to their residences at their own expense.
However, on Sept. 16, Ice and Reeder announced that Scripps would no longer store the items past Dec. 31 to avoid a backlog in the spring if students return to campus.
“For the last several months the college has been shipping items to students requesting them. For reasons outside of the school’s control, the process has been slow,” they said in an email to TSL. “Because of this and the volume of belongings that remain in storage, the college would like to ship as many items as possible before spring 2021, spreading the process over several months. We hope this will avoid delays during move-in, once students return to campus.”
The Sept. 16 email also put an end to the summer policy of students picking up items themselves.
“All items are being stored off campus at a warehouse managed by a third party. The environment in which the items are stored make it very difficult to pick out just one student’s belongings (hence the shipping delays described above) and this warehouse is not equipped to manage curbside pick-ups,” Ice and Reeder told TSL.
International students were told via email Sept. 18 that the college had “received several emails from international students, asking that we consider adjusting the process.” As a result, the college decided to offer continued storage for international students who do not want to have their items shipped or donated.
This email was a relief for Vasudha Jalan SC ’22, an international student from India. With the update, Jalan can continue storing her items with Scripps rather than having everything shipped back to India, where items could be lost in transit or may need to return to California if Jalan is on campus in the spring.
“It’s a difficult situation for everyone; at least Scripps is doing something now to help us,” she said.
Then, on Sept. 23, Ice and Reeder said students could continue to have their items stored and then returned during spring move-in. However, they encouraged students to have their items shipped now rather than waiting to avoid delays in the spring, as well as possible fees.
“Should the college be non-residential in the spring, items that remain in storage will become the responsibility of the student,” the email said. “The college will continue to cover the cost of shipping for students who prefer to have their items returned now, as well as avoid the potential of having to pay the cost of shipping or continued storage after spring term begins.”
Lily Mundell SC ’22, who lives in Seattle, Washington, said she was frustrated by the lack of options and transparency throughout the process.
“It’s nice to see that they are somewhat responsive to student concerns, however this option doesn’t really solve the issue,” she said via message. “The lack of information about who the moving company is or how much it would cost to ship/store at the end of this semester, as well as the ambiguity about spring plans makes the decision hard.”
Jaimie Ding contributed reporting.