On Thursday, Scripps College students employed as resident advisors (RAs) on campus announced that they will refuse to work in protest of their “exploitation” as “low income students of color” until their demands for extensive changes to college policies and personnel are met.

Though acknowledging that failing to perform their supervisory duties would enable students to “engage[] in unsafe behavior” and deprive students of a valuable mental health resource, the resident advisors insisted in an open letter to Scripps President Lara Tiedens that the college’s “exploitation” of their labor in the aftermath of the tragic death of a fellow Scripps student justified the drastic measures.

“We are now expected to continue to function in our roles while also grieving and trying to fulfill academic and other responsibilities,” the letter explained. “Furthermore, most of us are low income students of color, which further exacerbates the exploitation we are experiencing.”

The lengthy letter demands the “immediate resignation” of the current Dean of Students for failing to “show adequate leadership or support,” as well as significant changes to the college’s mental health, residential life, and financial aid policies.

Central are the changes the RAs are seeking to their own role on campus. They charge that their central duties, such as performing walkthroughs and enforcing college policies on lockouts and room residency, do “not actually model restorative justice” and hurt “marginalized students more than students with money and privilege.”

“For example, students are given two free lockouts per year, and after these free lockouts a student is fined $25 per lockout,” they explain, referring to the college’s policy on students who lock themselves out of their own rooms. “RAs are expected to record these lockouts so if a student surpasses their number of free lockouts, they are charged; this is a classist practice that serves no concrete purpose.”

The RAs also criticize the college’s requirement that students exit residence halls at the conclusion of each semester or face a daily fine. “Charging residents who stay past closing time for breaks is yet another classist practice that we are asked to implement,” they complain. “This [policy] does not allow any consideration of individual personal circumstances that leave students with nowhere to go. These, and all other fines used to disproportionately punish students must be removed.”

Turning to mental health on campus, the RAs’ letter demands that Scripps “increase the subsidy for off-campus therapy,” saying that a “financial burden should not be put on any student who seeks to improve their mental health.”

On financial aid, the RAs insist that the college “allocate[] emergency funding to accommodate unexpected changes in student finances.” They also propose a new financial aid formula that would permit students to obtain outside scholarships without reducing need-based aid granted by the college.

The labor “strike” is total. The RAs say that they “will not perform any of the labor expected of us” — including providing emotional support to students, responding to emergencies in the residence halls, and assisting students who are locked out of their rooms — unless the school agrees to meet their demands by April 20th.

The resident advisor position is one of the best-paying jobs available to students on campus at Scripps. Because RAs are important to ensuring student safety and protecting college property, Scripps College covers the full cost of room and board for all RAs — nearly $16,000 per year.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to airfare compensation as a benefit available to all Scripps RAs. In fact, the college chose to offer airfare compensation to some RAs on account of special personal circumstances.

Categories: Campus News
  • Tara Partow

    Omg I should’ve been getting reimbursed for airfare?!?!?!?

  • yougottabekiddingme

    Ok, fine, they quit their jobs; now others can be hired to take their places. The ex-RAs can take out loans to pay for their room, board, and airfare. AND, if the financial aid office is going to ignore their available outside financial means (their scholarships), then the financial aid office should also ignore everyone else’s available outside financial means (like parents’ savings, etc.)

  • 5C’s Prospie Parent

    What kind of journalism is this? If all you’re going to do is selectively quote from the RAs’ letter, why not just link to it (which you did, so what’s the rest of the article for?) and spare us all the derisive air-quotes? Literally the only information here that wasn’t in the letter itself is the cash value of room and board at Scripps, a figure readily available on the college’s website.

    If you want to provide some kind of value-added as “journalists,” (see – derisive air-quotes are easy!) show some guts and address the role of the Claremont Independent in creating the tragic situation to which the Scripps RAs must now respond.

    • Oh please

      Using the tragic situation you speak of to calculatedly undermine a campus publication you disagree with is as gutless as it gets.

  • Amused bystander

    A demonstrably false claim about RA time commitment is made in their complaint letter: “Training, which requires us to spend four weeks of summer break on campus”. In fact, the Scripps RA training website states: “RA training takes place over the course of 2.5 weeks in the fall and four to five days in the Spring a week prior to classes in January.”

  • Amused bystander

    “For example, students are given two free lockouts per year, and after these free lockouts a student is fined $25 per lockout. RAs are expected to record these lockouts so if a student surpasses their number of free lockouts, they are charged; this is a classist practice that serves no concrete purpose.”

    Absolutely – remove the financial penalty for lockout responses. Let students have as many lockouts as they need. Let them know that the RA will always respond promptly to a lockout event with an appropriately cheery attitude – at least a gracious “Welcome back” – without regard for the key-less person’s race, religion, financial status, state of inebriation, late-night hour of return, etc. No classist judgements at all.

  • Me

    A Scripps RA passed away and the whole reason the RA’s are protesting is because they felt they weren’t being allowed to grieve. You’re aware of that Mr. Reade, right? Or do you just not care?

  • Michael

    Wow!! Not enough bad news lately for the Claremont Colleges? At what point, does somebody expose the complete lack of common sense of the Claremont Colleges student body? These mental pigmies are a joke. Its time to bring Lamba Lamba Lamba to the Claremont Colleges. Those dorks would all fit in.

  • Sage man

    When my wife was at Scripps, all the dorm plumbing had to be changed on account of the corrosive effects of stomach acid. Mass bulimia is what did it. I do sympathize with the RA’s to some extent because Scripps students tend to carry lots of emotional baggage.

    That said, the SJW language is over-the-top and counterproductive.

  • Fed up!

    Stupid, whining imbeciles. You don’t like it? Quit being an RA and pay your room and board. Spineless administrations who give in to these demanding idiots. Wait until these students get real jobs–do these fools think they can behave like this at work? Beyond sick of this irrational, ridiculous and immature behavior.

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