I recently sat down with Kelly Peng ’18, president of Scripps Associated Students (SAS), to find out more about her as well as what issues and initiatives she’ll be focusing on during her tenure. Peng, who is a dual major in biology and Asian American studies from Battle Creek, Michigan, brings extensive experience in Scripps student government to her current position—over the past three years, she’s served on the SAS Senate, as the Class of 2018’s sophomore class president, and as SAS executive vice president.
Morgan Albrecht ’18: We are both entering our senior year this fall. What’s it like to think back on your senior year of high school and why you chose to attend Scripps?
Kelly Peng ’18: I had never actually visited Scripps before choosing to come! I first set foot on campus during orientation, and all of the information I gathered about the College was from the Scripps website. However, I chose Scripps based on what I learned in my searches—I wanted to be part of a community I could be actively engaged in, where I’d have a personal stake in what happened around me. I also chose Scripps because of the Claremont Consortium, the amazing faculty, the curriculum, and all of the potential good that the school held.
MA: What’s your favorite part about being a Scripps student?
KP: I think my favorite thing has been engaging with folks here. Whether it’s latenight conversations about existentialism with my friends or thoughtful conversations in office hours with my favorite professors, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve been exposed to many different perspectives.
MA: What do you enjoy most about being involved in student government?
KP: We have the ability to take student issues to people that can actually change things. In SAS, we have the opportunity to bring student concerns to the forefront of what both the administration and the Board of Trustees plans and works on. At the heart of our mission, we want to make Scripps a more inclusive and accessible community.
MA: Can you tell us a bit about your role as SAS president?
KP: As president, I act as a liaison between students, SAS, and the administration. I have regular meetings with the vice president for student affairs and dean of students, Charlotte Johnson, as well as with Lara Tiedens, the president of the College, to discuss student concerns and gauge where the Scripps administration stands on specific issues. I also frequently meet with the presidents of the other Claremont Colleges to talk about how we can streamline our resources and policies.
Part of my role is also to make sure that SAS has a cohesive flow, so I set the agenda for our meetings based on submissions from our members and other interested parties. I figure out what we’re going to talk about and where we’re going to focus our energy and efforts.
MA: What is SAS hoping to accomplish during the coming year? Is there anything that SAS has in the works that you’re personally excited about?
KP: One of our main priorities for this year is increasing our transparency on campus. In order to better address student concerns and answer questions, we’ve started doing weekly SAS tabling on Wednesdays at lunch. To make sure that people are aware of what SAS is doing, we also plan to send out monthly emails—keep an eye on your inboxes to read the latest!
Another area that SAS is committed to is making Scripps more inclusive. As a group, we want to think about how we can make different locations on campus more accessible to students—whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional accessibility. As part of this, we are working to consolidate the policies that we have on campus, including demonstration and sexual assault policies, in order to make them more centralized and consistent across the five colleges.
Something in particular that I’m looking forward to working on is shifting the school’s alcohol policy with Dean Johnson. Our goal is to foster a healthy culture surrounding drinking at Scripps and to make sure that it’s safer than it has been in years past.
MA: How do you balance your involvement in student government with your studies?
KP: Aside from having half of my notebook dedicated to school and half dedicated to SAS, I ration out time that I spend on SAS every day so that I can answer emails, attend meetings, and hold office hours, and I spend my remaining time on school work.
MA: Outside of juggling those two areas, what do you like to do in your free time?
KP: I really like wandering through the aisles of Target, getting ice cream at Handel’s on Wednesdays, taking naps in the middle of the afternoon, and eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. I’m also kind of training for a half marathon, so sometimes I enjoy running.
MA: Is there anything else that you’d like Scripps students to know?
KP: You can be added to the agenda and attend SAS meetings! SAS meetings occur every Sunday from 7:00 until 8:30 p.m. in the student union, and agenda submissions can be found here. Also, I have office hours every Sunday from 3:00 until 5:00 p.m. in the student union. If anyone has any concerns or questions about SAS or Scripps, please come talk to me! I want students to know that if they want to see change on campus, SAS has a lot of leverage with the administration. I think that it’s really important for us to utilize our voices and to advocate for one another. Throughout this year, let’s figure out how we can all work together—I don’t want SAS to be a group that’s up in the clouds—it should be grounded in student organizing and things that are already happening on campus.
Find out more about Scripps Associated Students here.
For more in our Spotlight on Students series, click here.