Under a proposed change to Scripps College’s admission policy, the college would consider applicants “assigned female at birth and/or who identify as a woman at the time of application,” according to an email announcement sent by President Lori Bettison-Varga to students, faculty members and staff members Nov. 13.
Bettison-Varga credited senior administration officials with creating the recommendation, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees at its December meeting.
“These discussions started last year as part of a broader conversation about how we might nurture a climate of inclusion and build capacity to have a dialogue across differences,” Bettison-Varga wrote in an email to TSL. The proposal follows announcements by Mills College and Mount Holyoke College, which each implemented more inclusive admissions policies this semester.
Bettison-Varga added that both transgender men and gender non-conforming individuals would be eligible for admission under the proposed policy change.
“I am incredibly excited about the progress that Scripps is making to create a more inclusive campus and community,” said Morgan Weidner SC ’17, who serves as Sophomore Class Representative to the Scripps Associated Students. “Although this proposal is not a perfect solution, we are hopeful that the Board of Trustees will adopt it.”
Student organizers held a meeting Nov. 14 in the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment Office to discuss the language of the proposal and the direction of the efforts. About 40 people attended the meeting, including three Scripps alumni who identified as female when they entered the college and now identify as male.
Rhodes Burns SC ’85 was one of the transgender alumni in attendance. He travelled to Claremont from his home in Berkeley, Calif., to attend the meeting and expressed excitement that the college is considering updating its admissions policy.
“It is thrilling to me that they are considering including this language in the admissions policy,” Burns said. “I personally think that this is a step in the right direction, and I am very happy about that.”
Although he acknowledged that the proposal is a positive change to Scripps’ admissions policy, Burns suggested that the vagueness of the language indicated the proposal does not go far enough.
“I don’t think Scripps is a place for cisgender males,” Burns said. “It should really be for gender-variant individuals, or people who have encountered gender injustice. I think that will be the evolving role of a women’s college.”
Aron Macarow SC ’07, who was also at the meeting, agreed with Burns’ sentiments about the role that a women’s college should play in the modern world.
“It’s a great starting point, and I think that it’s a really powerful stance for Scripps to take,” Macarow said. “But I also think that as notions of gender evolve … we should be seriously talking about making a women’s college a safe haven for all gender-marginalized individuals.”
Bettison-Varga wrote in her email to TSL that she believes that is important to maintain Scripps’ status as a women’s college.
“Scripps’ traditions and legacy as a Women’s college are integral to the student experience and campus culture, and preserving our identity as a college for women is a valuable not only to current students, but also our alumnae, parents, and the extended Scripps community,” Bettison-Varga wrote.
She wrote that she felt confident that members of the Board of Trustees were “well-prepared to discuss and consider the recommendation at their December meeting,” and stressed that they would be carefully reviewing feedback and comments from various stakeholders.