OPINION: Scripps’ priorities are sexist

A scale with the peace sign (representing wellness) on one side and books (representing knowledge) on the other.
Graphic by Eloise Magoncelli

“It’s so pretty! It looks like a resort.”

That’s what my mom said when we first set foot on Scripps College, my then-future college campus. As we bobbed and dipped past white walls and secret courtyards on our tour, I heard all about how Scripps students are happy, emotionally balanced people. 

In the end, Scripps’ focus on mental and physical wellbeing was what enticed me to come here. In my frenzy to escape the stressful world of New York City private schools, I forwent looking at schools’ academics. I took them as a given, and looking back on my Scripps tour, I can’t remember the part where they discussed classes. Different colleges have different values, and that’s as it should be.

But it can’t be a coincidence that in the 5Cs, the women’s college differentiates itself by apparently being the least academic school of the five. “She’s pretty, and who cares what’s in her head?” is the attitude of misogynists. Scripps has to be careful that they’re not teaching us that self-care is for girls and academics are for boys.

Let’s start with Scripps’s mission statement: “To educate women to develop their intellects and talents through active participation in a community of scholars, so that as graduates they may contribute to society through public and private lives of leadership, service, integrity and creativity.” The term “active participation” caught my eye. It seems to imply the low expectation of showing up to class and talking once in a while. 

Society already tells women to coast through, focus on being happy and that they’re not expected to reach for the academic stars. A women’s college should focus on teaching women to want more. Instead of “through active participation in a community of scholars,” the statement should say “through extraordinary, impactful engagement with a community of scholars.” In short, I’m insulted that Scripps does not expect more from me.

Beyond just the theoretical, Scripps (literally) structurally does not prioritize academics. Every Scripps class of every discipline they offer is crammed into three academic buildings, four including the performing arts center. Scripps has 10 residence halls and one ostentatious field house.

Other actions and inactions by the Scripps administration makes me wonder what they think Scrippsies are doing in their time outside of class. Unlike some of those at the other 5Cs, almost all of Scripps’ classrooms are locked during the night. 

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The administration opened four classrooms in spring 2018 in response to student feedback, and after a TSL opinion piece written by Tiara Sharma (who transferred out of Scripps) was published addressing that fact. Scripps students don’t spend time in classrooms when they’re not in class, apparently. 

Seal Court, a space many Scripps students use to study, is tiny, seasonal and mainly used as a place to eat food from Malott Commons or drink coffee from The Motley Coffeehouse. It’s telling that Scripps has a large pool but few open study spaces. The Scripps administration, unlike administrations at other schools, does not think its students are studying very much outside the classroom, a notion that can’t have come from nowhere. 

There are serious consequences to the Scripps administration’s skewed priorities. Since starting as a student at Scripps, there has been a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I’m not taken 100 percent seriously in the classroom. At first, I told myself I was crazy and that it was all in my head. Soon, however, I began hearing echoes of that feeling from my friends. 

Then, during one of my frequent procrastinatory deep discussions with my roommate, the light bulb clicked on: Students from other schools don’t think we’re dumb; they think that we don’t prioritize academics as much as they do and are therefore less of a force to be reckoned with in the classroom.

It’s extra bad because it’s a self-perpetuating problem. We’re taught not to take academics seriously, so we don’t, and the culture continues. 

I find that people try to ‘fix’ me, thinking I’m an unhappy person just because I’m something of a workaholic, a derogatory term at Scripps. I feel as though I’m being pressured into being less ambitious. 

In reality, reputations aside, Scrippsies are brilliant and ambitious and Scripps classes are extremely demanding. The administration needs to shift its priorities to academics a little bit more. We should build more academic buildings and study centers. We should unlock our classrooms. We should host more career fairs. Scrippsies deserve to be taken seriously. 

That said, I don’t want less a less beautiful campus or fewer free workout classes. I just want to be a part of a community that doesn’t put a ceiling on how high I should rise academically, and I want to be seen as I am: non-stop, and I want my school to support me. 

Margot Rosenblatt SC ’23 is from Manhattan, New York. Ever since she stopped fencing, she has had no outlet for her considerable aggression. That is, of course, until she discovered opinion writing. She would like to thank her roommate Alisha for the late night discussions on this topic and every topic.

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