Scripps Students Ask Administration to Support CMCers of Color

Following protests at Claremont McKenna College last week, Scripps College students approached Scripps Vice President and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson on Nov. 12 and interim President Amy Marcus-Newhall on Nov. 13 with a list of demands.

The three core demands were for Scripps to formally express support for the demands of CMCers of Color, to acknowledge that a Scripps student was involved in an instance of cultural appropriation, and to establish a system of semesterly written progress reports on all the recommendations from Scripps Students of Color to the Board of Trustees. Marcus-Newhall and Johnson both agreed to the demands, although Johnson altered the wording slightly.

Additionally, the list of demands for Marcus-Newhall also included a request that Scripps formally commit to increasing 5C funding for Monsour Counseling Center and emphasize the importance of sensitivity training for faculty, administrators, and staff. 

Johnson also committed to sending an email to students describing the administration's response on Nov. 20 or 21. 

“Students of color have been talking with me about changes since I arrived on campus more than a year ago.  This has been an ongoing conversation,” Johnson wrote in an email to TSL. “We have more work to do, but the college is committed to a more diverse community where full inclusion is the standard.”

SCORE (Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment) students had approached the administration and the Board of Trustees multiple times throughout the semester calling for change, according to Scrippps Associated Students Diversity and Inclusivity Chair Pamela Ng SC ’16. Ng said that when Scripps and SCORE were referenced as model institutions during CMCers of Color protests, multiple groups of Scripps students felt that they needed to hold the administration accountable for the changes they were being commended for, some of which had yet to happen. They consequently decided to use momentum gained by CMCers of Color’s protests last week to build on their previous efforts.

“These are issues that have always been at the forefront in a lot of our conversations with the administration, but there hadn’t really been any follow-up,” said Ng, who is also involved in the Asian American Student Union. “If the administration isn’t held accountable to these demands and recommendations, then what is the point of all this extra effort from students? These conversations will continue, but that’s why we asked that the dean give students progress reports.”

At students’ request, Scripps Career Planning & Resources (CP&R) also canceled a CIA recruiting event that was scheduled for Nov. 19. In a community discussion on Facebook, students had voiced concerns that it would be inappropriate for an organization affiliated with historical racism and imperialism to be recruiting on campus at this time. As a result, a group of white student allies compiled a list of past discriminatory actions from the CIA and expressed them to the Vicki Klopsch, director of CP&R.

“We had a respectful and peaceful dialogue about on-campus recruitment and the right for students to choose their own path,” Klopsch said. “While CP&R values all students' interests, I acknowledged that given the current climate, it would be inappropriate to hold the event at that time.”

Klopsch said that the CIA recruiter, who is a woman of color, understood and responded positively when she was notified of the cancellation.  

“We came in sort of expecting the worst, but Vicki was very accommodating. She listened to our argument and said if this is what students on campus are saying, then we should listen,” Leanna Namovic SC ‘17 said. “I was over the moon at her response.”

Overall, a significant dialogue has been sparked at Scripps in the past few weeks regarding concerns voiced by people of color. At Scripps, students have used a number of Facebook groups to foster community discussions. Among these groups were affinity groups within SCORE, as well as a Facebook group called Anti-Racist White Student Community, which is designed to help white students self-educate, become better allies, and build an anti-racist environment.

“We aspire to be a community where each student is supported in ways that allow the student to thrive,” Johnson wrote.

Natalie Quek contributed reporting.

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