Last weekend, drawings and phrases of a derogatory nature were found on the Scripps College campus, spray painted onto the trees, sidewalks, and the Amherst Drive pavement. The graffiti included phrases such as “Scissor Me Scrippsie,” “Wannabes,” and “Every Lash,” as well as drawings of a penis with “-tation” written next to it to form “dictation.”
The Scripps administration identified the graffiti as a hostile hate crime which infringed on the security of the Scripps community. An e-mail was sent out to students reporting the incident. According to the e-mail, the incident targeted the lesbian community, as “scissoring” is a term often used to refer to lesbian sex.
Scripps Dean of Students Debra Wood emphasized the need for 5-C students to engage in open dialogue concerning the bias incident. Wood said that Scripps was particularly targeted because of the stereotype that women who choose to attend women’s colleges identify as lesbian.
“The damage such actions do to the sense of community and support on the 5-C campuses is immeasurable,” Wood said. “It is disappointing that some people don’t want to take time to understand what it means and why it’s offensive.”
The graffiti elicited varied responses across the student body. While some students felt that the incident was an insignificant result of drunken partying, others felt that the graffiti directly targeted Scripps students and the queer community, and jeopardized students’ sense of security.
Scripps Associated Students (SAS) held a forum encouraging student discussion and action concerning the graffiti on Apr. 8. SAS also provided a large poster outside of the Motley soliciting student reactions to the incident.
Some students expressed their anger toward what they considered to be sexist and homophobic language and emphasized the need for Scripps students to respond. “I’m disgusted, less by the action which I thought was isolated than by the dismissive and complacent responses. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” one comment written on the poster read.
Others were uncomfortable with the anger elicited by the incident. “Calling this graffiti a ‘hate crime’ is appallingly disrespectful to anyone who has been a victim of real hate and prejudice,” another student wrote.
Some students felt that comedy was the best method to cope with the incident. Asia Louise Morris SC ‘12 and Lucy Bosche SC ’12 composed a song from the perspective of the perpetrator who painted the offensive slurs. The song poked fun at the anger and rejection that inspired the negative graffiti.
The two students posted a recorded video of the song on Facebook to share with friends. The video received numerous comments and “likes” from other Scripps students.
Morris said that she and Bosche felt the need to respond to the graffiti and use humor to lighten the anger and hurt many students felt.
“A lot of people took [the offensive graffiti] personally and were hurt by it, whereas I think the person who wrote it probably didn’t take it seriously. I think it would be a waste of energy to take it seriously and let it interfere with your daily life,” Morris said.
Chantal Coudoux SC ’10 said that students must make efforts to address certain underlying inequalities that exist on campus and are manifested in such bias-related incidents.
“Bias related incidents point out the feeling an individual may have, but they don’t address the inequalities that arise day to day on campus. If you are only pointing out what happens on campus, that is not enough,” Coudoux said.
The vandalism was reported to Campus Safety and the Claremont Police Department as a violation of private property, as it will cost a substantial amount of money to repair. According to Lena Robinson, the Director of Campus Safety, Campus Safety has no information on the suspect.
“Graffiti/Vandalism is a property crime that we take quite seriously,” Robinson said in an e-mail. “We strongly encourage anyone with any information about this crime to share what they know with Campus Safety.”