Housing for the entering class of 2017 was absolutely bungled. I do not think Scripps will make those same mistakes again. Will they make new mistakes? Possibly - the question is whether they’re any worse of a bet than other schools that are facing the same challenges.
The history of the incident cited above: In the early spring of 2017, a gifted and well-loved Scripps student took her life (in part because of cyber-bullying and doxxing instigated by the nationally-funded right-wing 5C’s publication). The student was also an RA, and the incident galvanized the other RA’s to protest the pressures of their positions and, when dissatisfied with the response, to go on strike. There was bad press, and campus visits for prospective students were disrupted because of the turmoil, and because tour guides also went on strike in solidarity. The admissions office became convinced that yield would drop. They admitted more students than normal, anticipating a lower yield… and yield did not drop. They were faced with an unmanageably large entering class, on top of the existing challenges.
When the housing shortage became evident, Residential Life began asking upperclassmen, who already had room assignments for the fall, to give up their housing and move off campus. Upperclass housing is very nice, and students wait years to get the best rooms and suites… and the incentives offered were insultingly weak. Not surprisingly, there were few takers. Rather than suck it up and make a more compelling offer, Res Life made a poor and lazy decision, and placed first-years off campus instead. It is now clear to absolutely everyone that this was a terrible way to handle the problem. I think it is abundantly clear that they cannot do this again. I don’t even think that any of the same people who made this decision are working at Res Life anymore.
When the pandemic struck, and it became clear that housing density would have to be reduced when students returned to campus, Scripps made a concerted effort to secure appropriate supplemental housing off campus. This did not include apartments at CGU, after the negative experience the entering first-years had there in 2017… although I don’t know for sure that CGU apartments won’t be utilized in Fall 2021. Res Life has also been careful to postpone making housing assignments until the situation is more clear.
Admissions has also been more careful not to over-admit, since 2017, utilizing the waitlist to fine-tune class size instead.
I completely agree that prospective students should ask probing questions about how students will be accommodated in on-campus and off-campus housing. Will triples be reinstated? How much space will be reserved for quarantine housing? How much off-campus housing inventory has been secured? Who will be asked to live off campus, and how will housing assignments be handled? How many “extra” students will be on campus as the result of pandemic LOA’s?
To be fair, though, most colleges are facing these same issues and need to be asked these same questions. What is unique to Scripps is 1) the bungled housing problem in 2017 that undermined trust, and 2) a lack of precedent for positive off-campus living experiences, since all students have normally lived on campus in the past.
Ask good questions, of Scripps, and of every other college you’re considering. There will be tough decisions to be made about housing, almost everywhere. (For example, are UC’s going to resume packing first-years into triples and quads? If not, where are those students going to go?) Press for specifics, and then if you can, cross-check with current/continuing students and parents to make sure that what you’re hearing is compatible with what they are hearing and expecting. This thread raises important issues that will affect the student experience just about everywhere.