Scripps Introduces Diversity Initiative

Scripps College has introduced a comprehensive plan to align resources and programming to promote the goals of inclusion, diversity, equity and access within the Scripps community. 

College president Lori Bettison-Varga announced the IDEA Initiative by email Oct. 3. According to Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Denise Nelson Nash, the initiative aims to promote dialogue about identity and values to strengthen relationships, community and mutual learning.

“I look forward to seeing relationships transform throughout our community and to developing shared ownership for an inclusive campus environment,” she wrote in an email to TSL.

The initiative will offer regularly scheduled opportunities for conversations about the root causes of community problems to develop strategies to address them. Goals also include developing trust, communication and accountability across groups on campus. 

In the announcement of the initiative, Bettison-Varga said these goals can be achieved through partnership with the Sustained Dialogues Campus Network, an initiative of the Sustained Dialogue Institute. According to the Sustained Dialogue Institute's website, the institute promotes a process of multi-stage discussion between groups to work toward solutions for racial, ethnic and other deep-rooted conflicts in the United States and abroad.

According to Scripps Associated Students President Alex Frumkin SC ’15, the initiative will be further explored during biweekly Presidential Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusivity meetings that she and SAS Diversity and Inclusivity Chair Nere Montes SC ’17 will attend. 

Frumkin noted the amount of work put into developing the initiative.

“It’s just really critical that we do our best at making sure students use this resource and find it helpful,” Frumkin said.

As a mediator between the student body and administration, Montes said she hopes to communicate frequently with the organizations supported by Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment to make the initiative more accessible to students.

"To my understanding, IDEA will offer students a chance to become moderators, which means we are looking at ways to sustain hard conversations about diversity and inclusion on campus," Montes said. "I see myself working on this initiative by recruiting key students at Scripps to become involved. So far recruiting looks like me passing this information along to SCORE CLORGS through emails in hopes to get marginalized students' participation."

Frumkin said that SAS’s next Be Heard Forum will focus on marginalization on campus. Frumkin added that these spaces of dialogue are especially important for new students.

“I think that on these campuses when [students] are feeling marginalized they don’t realize that other people are feeling that way too, so we’re hoping that this Be Heard Forum will be a nice space for people to realize that they aren’t facing those problems alone,” Frumkin said.

Frumkin added that SAS is fully committed to alleviating these inclusivity problems.

Nash also wrote that the initiative is an ongoing process that will have incremental and subtle effects.

“As Beverly Tatum told students in a presentation last week, for dialogue to be effective, it must be practiced over a sustained period rather than as a one-time or irregular occurrence,” Nash wrote.

As part of the IDEA Initiative, the Sustained Dialogues Campus Network will hold a two-day inclusivity leadership workshop for Scripps students Oct. 24-25. Participants will have the opportunity to apply for paid moderator positions to lead consistent dialogue meetings throughout the academic year.