Editorial Board: In Policy Change, Scripps Must Strive for Clarity

The gates at Scripps are opening. On Nov. 13, Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga announced a proposed change to the college’s admission policy (see News, page 1). Bettison-Varga’s email announcement stated that the amended admissions policy would include “applicants assigned female at birth and/or those who identify as female at the time of application.”

In an email to TSL, Bettison-Varga suggested that both transgender men and non-gender conforming individuals would be included under the proposal. However, within the language presented in the Scripps administration’s proposal, the specifics of the admission policies are not made clear. While the policy implies that transgender men and transgender women are eligible for admission, it does not incorporate clear language to explain the specifics of the changes.

We support Scripps’ proposed policy change but would like to see greater clarity in the wording to more fully address the diverse identities of those applying for Scripps admission. We believe that a more clearly worded statement would lessen any confusion regarding Scripps’ policy and take an important step with a clear stance in having a transgender- and non-binary-inclusive admissions policy.

To this end, we applaud Scripps students for their efforts in advocating for additions that they would like to see incorporated in the admissions policy. Over the course of this fall, Scripps students have largely headed the efforts and conversations surrounding change to the college’s admission policy. Students have initiated meetings, hosted BeHeard Forums and circulated a petition to obtain over 500 signatures in support of a more gender-inclusive policy amendment. In the widely circulated petition, students proposed that cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men and individuals of other genders, including non-binary and genderqueer individuals, be considered for admission.

We support that petition and the students’ clear advocacy for what they would like to see implemented. Students have researched and discussed the issue, and ultimately come up with a petition that over half the student body supports. This, in itself, shows student persistence and strong feelings surrounding the policy—both of which should be recognized by the college through the creation of an amended admissions policy.

We recommend that Scripps draw from these recommendations and from Mount Holyoke College’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page about its admission policy. On that page, Mount Holyoke helpfully clarifies its policy, providing detailed explanations of eligibility.

We hope that the Scripps administration demonstrates continued receptivity to student input on this issue, and we hope that the Board of Trustees takes into account all the work and thought that students and administrators alike have put into crafting this recommendation.

Finally, we hope members of the other Claremont Colleges pay attention to the administration’s announcement and the Board of Trustees’ decision. While this is ultimately a concern of greatest relevance to Scripps, we hope that all members of the Claremont Colleges community consider what Scripps’ progress on updating its admissions policy means for developing a consortium of inclusive and welcoming communities.

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