Two years after housing shortage, Scripps admits another large class. Is it ready this time?

Helen Norcini SC ’21 wanted to catch breakfast before her morning class, so she took the early shuttle from her housing at the Claremont Graduate University apartments to Scripps College’s campus.

This proved to be a lucky move — 30 minutes into her class, seven fellow CGU residents burst in. They had missed a half-hour the class waiting for the shuttle.

Standing in the August heat waiting for the inconsistent shuttle to take her to campus, fighting with administrators over unfulfilled promises, receiving little assistance from Campus Safety when lost on the way to CGU after late-night orientation programming — all these experiences characterized Norcini’s first year at Scripps.

Norcini, like 37 other Scripps first-years, was placed in the CGU apartments in 2017 due to a housing shortage caused by over-enrollment. That year, Scripps admitted 949 students, yielding the largest class in Scripps’ history — 329.

“We know that our applicants often have many great offers to consider, so we aim to admit enough students to meet the enrollment target,” Laura Stratton, Scripps’ director of admission, explained in an email to TSL at the time. “What we didn’t anticipate was that more students would accept our offer of admission than we expected.”

Last year, Scripps accepted fewer students and utilized its waitlist more to avoid over-enrollment and prevent having to house first-year students off-campus again.

However, after a year spent trying to accommodate the large class of 2021 on campus, Scripps has admitted another large class of 902 students — nearly 150 more than were admitted last year.

Scripps’ target class size for 2023 is 280 students, according to Victoria Romero, vice president for enrollment. However, Scripps’ average yield rate over the last four years — 33.75% — suggests that approximately 304 students will accept Scripps’ offer of admissions, which is 24 more than expected.

If the enrolled class of 2023 yields around 304 students, it will likely be significantly larger than Scripps’ exiting class, the class of 2019, which enrolled 277 students in 2015, according to the Common Data Set. Romero didn’t respond to TSL’s inquiry about how many students from that class are still enrolled at Scripps.

Regardless, enrolling 304 students would increase the total number of students on Scripps’ campus.

Despite this, Romero said via email that Scripps does not expect a housing shortage next year. Scripps also will not be expanding housing options for next year, she said.

“We have enough beds on campus due to the conversion of Revelle House,” Romero said, adding that Toll, Browning and Dorsey Halls have recently been renovated.

The Revelle House added 12 beds, according to the Scripps 2019-2020 Housing Plan.

Romero did not respond to several of TSL’s other queries, including when such renovations occurred, how many beds were added to the residence halls, how many students are currently in each class and how many beds are on campus. Scripps spokesperson Rachael Warecki could not provide that information either.

Some Scripps students, like Norcini, are worried that 2017’s housing shortage will repeat next year.

“I don’t know where else the extra students can go. The opening of Revelle house was in response to last year. Where can the new students go? Where else can they build?” Norcini said.

Other students lamented the constant housing squeeze.

In recent years, existing housing at Scripps has grown increasingly cramped. Former doubles in Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall were converted into triples for the 2018-19 academic year, according to Samantha McFadden SC ’21, who lived in a GJW double for the 2017-18 academic year, before it was converted into a forced triple.

“When I found out that Scripps was turning most of the first floor GJW doubles into triples, I was shocked,” McFadden said via message. “It wasn’t until then that I really became aware of the housing crisis here on campus.

“I can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable with how Scripps is packing its students into campus housing. I am actually living in a semi-forced double this year, so I have come face-to-face with the aforementioned cramming. I believe Scripps is really beginning to cross the line with housing.”

Justine Iwata SC ’21 also commented on Scripps’ recurring housing problems.

“It’s interesting that we’re continuously having this problem,” said Iwata, who lived at CGU during her first year. “They don’t seem to have been making any long-lasting changes. I think people have just accepted the fact that we just have to go through this every year.”

Breanna Kim SC ’21, another student who lived at CGU her first year, agreed.

“Scripps has been saying for years that they’re going to reassess however it is that they enroll students,” she said, adding that she hasn’t seen any changes to the admissions process yet.

CGU is not concerned about the potential of housing Scripps students next year, according to CGU housing manager Alexis Ireland. Since 2008, CGU has taken students from the 5Cs when the colleges over-enroll, Ireland said.

Alexa Sanchez SC ’21, who also lived in the CGU apartments her freshman year, is nervous about the increase in the number of admitted students for incoming first years, and hopes they will not have to live at CGU.

“Much of the reason why I chose Scripps in the first place was because of the dorms and on campus experience,” Sanchez said. “Those expectations were completely crushed when I was forced to live off campus, away from the community that I was so excited to be a part of. I just hope that they do not have to resort to doing that with the incoming class.”

Olivia Truesdale contributed reporting.

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