Scripps’ Proposed Admissions Policy is a Step Forward

On Nov. 13, Scripps College president Lori Bettison-Varga sent out
an email to the student body with the following proposal for an updated
admissions policy, which the Board of Trustees will discuss in early
December: Effective for the class enrolling in fall 2016, Scripps College will (1)
consider applicants assigned female at
birth and/or who self-identify as a woman at the time of application (2) continue
the practice of not requiring government issued documentation for gender
identity purposes, and (3) continue to award a Scripps degree to any student
who completes the baccalaureate requirements, regardless of gender identity or
expression.

I, along with many of my peers, was pleasantly surprised to
see this issue pushed to the forefront of the board’s agenda as we were
expecting the board to vote on the matter in the spring. Throughout the fall
semester, Scripps Associated Students held multiple BeHeard Forums and
educational events with the intention of educating students on the importance
of a fully inclusive admission policy and in hopes of shifting campus culture.

I got involved in the beginning of the year when I joined a project team for my Intro to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies class. In early October, we collected more than 580 signatures from Scripps students in support of a student-written policy similar to the one approved by Bettison-Varga.

The overwhelming support was exhilarating and exactly what we needed to force the administration to hear us. Walking around Seal Court and hearing so many students’ enthusiasm on the possibility of an adjustment to Scripps admissions showed us that the student body supported this change. This support ultimately led Bettison-Varga to push the issue to the top of the board’s priorities.

While I am still quite surprised by the release of a proposal, it is not everything for which I had hoped. Bettison-Varga’s proposed policy would not open admission up to assigned male at birth, non-binary folks. Leaving out these students would limit the inclusivity Scripps is able to achieve. The language of the policy is vague; it doesn’t even have the word “transgender” in it.

After the policy was released, I went to a discussion in the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment Office with Joss Greene, Aron Macarow and Rhodes Burns, three trans Scripps alumni. After speaking with the alumni, I had a new sense of hope for the policy and the ways in which it can change Scripps. While our work is definitely not over, we are taking strides in the right direction. Hearing Joss, Aron and Rhodes speak positively about the proposed change helped me to realize the impact it will have on current and future students.

At this point in time, it is crucial that students stand behind the policy and are able to show the Board of Trustees that it is something we stand behind. We must show the board that we support Scripps being a place for all students who are marginalized by their gender. To submit positive feedback on the policy, go to inside.scrippscollege.edu/admissionpolicy. Once the board passes this policy, I hope we can continue to move forward in increasing inclusivity at Scripps.

While it is important for students to support the proposed
policy to encourage the Board of Trustees to pass it, we must recognize that
our work is not done. The language could create more flexibility for students and help them find a way to fit into the policy’s definitions in some way. By not using clear and precise terms, the policy is more likely to be passed by conservative board members. However, the lack of clarity has the potential to lead to discrimination in admittance behind closed doors. For these reasons, I hope students will
continue to organize around this issue to make Scripps the inclusive community
to which it aspires. 

Flora Field SC ’17 is an English major from Portland, Ore.

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