September in Claremont: the season has brought new illegal air-conditioning units, new Birkenstocks, new first-years and new COVID-19 protocols. Amid the newness, though, is an archaic, misogynistic sentiment some at the 5Cs have yet to shed: that Scripps is the “easiest” college, and, by extension, that Scripps classes are “easier.”
Campus is abuzz with frenzied PERM submissions and pleading emails to professors. We have first classes peppered with syllabi, wide-eyed first years and professors casually tossing out painful inquiries of favorite ice-cream flavors and fun facts. Along with this chaos comes a tangled discourse precipitated by a single question: “What classes are you taking?”
Usually, we’re pretty generous with advice. That’s an easy A if you’re not an English major, but he’s really strict about discussion posts. Or, Only take it if you have a good study group. Here, Jack’s in the 9:35 section, I can give you his number. Or, Well, if you can’t get into the Intro class at Pomona, I heard there’s one open at Mudd.
This discourse is good – healthy, even. In this instance of choosing classes, conflict can be productive. For example, if your friend says that a Bio class is easy, you should counter that it’s because she’s a STEM major, and you found the class impossible. Yet we lose our footing when our academic negotiations become a barter economy for misogyny.
“I’m trying to get into French 33 at Scripps and not Pomona because I’m bad at French;” “Just take some random gender class at Scripps for the A”; “That’s a fluff class, it doesn’t count, it’s at Scripps” are all sentiments I’ve heard casually tossed around in conversation across all non-Scripps campuses. These comments advance misogyny and hide helpful negotiations and lived experiences. Assumptions become shrouded among genuine sentiments, and sexism integrates into dining hall conversations.
There’s a distinction between stereotypes that encourage school pride, endorse healthy humor amongst schools and advocate for communal identity – and coded bias.
The jokes that a CMC Econ class will be full of frat bros, that a Harvey Mudd class will be in a basement dungeon somewhere, or that they’ll give you a CBD gummy at the beginning of your compost class at Pitzer, per say, don’t advance said coded bias. Each school has their own identity and that we can poke fun at each other as well as ourselves is a testament to culture created through communal identity. When a Pitzer friend assumes that Pomona kids are all in the library on a Saturday night, I don’t argue.
But claiming that Scripps classes are easier because it’s a historically women’s college isn’t a “fun stereotype;” rather, it’s highly sophisticated coded misogyny. By “easy,” do we mean more welcoming, warmer? Do we mean less serious? Do we mean smaller? Or do we mean predominantly female? Let’s prosecute these assumptions and investigate what we’re actually trying to say when we claim Scripps classes are “easier”.
Next time you break down the intensity level of a class, focus on specifics: What was the professor’s teaching style like? Were the group projects helpful in understanding material or a total pain? Is this a good intro class for non-majors? Is the lecture-style helpful? Then, and only then, can we focus on helpful academic advice and leave the sexist stuff behind.
Eliza Powers PO ’25 is from New Orleans, Louisiana. She loves reality TV, Phoebe Bridgers and searching for the perfect avocado toast recipe.