SAS Forum Prompts Productive Debate

SAS environmental chair Serena Larkin ('09) opened the Feb. 25 SAS Be Heard forum with a question meant to provoke the assembled audience in the Motley: "Do we even need SAS?" The large audience—perched on tables, crowded in the back and fighting for space—looked around expectantly until one student finally piped up: "I think this is the wrong place to ask if SAS is pointless." Judging by the impassioned, respectful debate that followed, this statement seems undeniably accurate. Students were eager to debate the issues affecting them and anxious to see what SAS can do to facilitate student discourse and effect real campus change.

Following Larkin's opening question, SAS president Fatima Elkabti ('09) introduced the forum in front of a dry erase board that announced the night's contentious topics for discussion: the escort policy, the 8-person per dorm room rule when alcohol is present, switching campus email providers  from Groupwise to Gmail, Campus Climate Survey and increased campus awareness about sexual assault.

The forum began with a lively debate about the escort policy—a rule that requires students to walk guests to and from dorm rooms and bathrooms. Student opinion on this issue ran the gamut: some advocated striking the rule entirely, contending that it is inconvenient and creates a negative culture at Scripps, while others were adamant in keeping the escort policy in order to maintain the safety and comfort associated with attending a women's college. Following the forum, a SAS survey was sent to students asking whether to keep the escort policy. Because there was no clear majority from the responses, SAS reports that another survey will be drafted asking for opinion on reworking the escort policy rather than discarding  it entirely.

After a brief discussion on the agreed-upon merits of Gmail and the arbitrary nature of the 8-person rule, the forum evolved into a productive discussion on the lack of campus community, specifically within the residence halls. Students discussed the ideas of substance-free residence halls, dorms or hallways based on class year or unifying theme and the implementation of public spaces in which drinking would be allowed among students over the age of 21. Though no consensus was reached on how to promote community, the conversation cemented the fact that Scripps students do care about their community and want to ensure that it is fun, welcoming and safe for everyone.

At Tuesday's SAS meeting, along with deciding to create another survey about the controversial escort policy, SAS voted to recommend to the administration to remove the 8-person rule from the Guide to Student Life. Though Scripps will unlikely switch to Gmail in the near future because of the strong desire for a universal provider, SAS will also ask IT to compile a handout that explains how to forward other email addresses into Groupwise.

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