Diversity at Scripps: Student/Alumnae Ask Hard Questions Scripps Community Seeks Answers

Since September of last year, campus banners have heralded “Scripps at 75: Women of Voice and Vision” in honor of the College’s past and present, and with a proud nod toward Scripps’ future. While many students and alumnae wholeheartedly agree with this boast, some women have taken exception to a proclamation that begs the question, “Whose voice? Whose vision?”

As we prepare for the next 75 years, there is perhaps no better time to take a penetrating look at diversity at Scripps. Are we meeting our strategic plan goal to “build a diverse and scholarly community dedicated to women’s education”? Are we following our own “Blueprint for Diversity,” set forth last year and backed, in part, by a grant from the Irvine Foundation? Where have we succeeded and where have we failed? And what are our practical and visionary plans for the future?

While not all of these questions have been answered, members of the Scripps community are publicly asking and discussing—a clear change from the past.

Diversity Coordinating Committee

Recognizing the responsibility and rising to the challenge posed by the questions, the College opened the subject of creating excellence through diversity to the entire community and offered various avenues of debate and discussion throughout the academic year.

This included the formation of the Diversity Coordinating Committee, which met weekly, during the academic year to oversee and monitor the College’s efforts in this area. The committee, consisting of faculty, students, staff, alumnae, and trustees, is headed by Dean of Faculty Michael Deane Lamkin; Amy Marcus Newhall, associate dean of faculty and associate professor of psychology; and Carolyn Ditte Wagner `72, director of foundation and corporate relations. (The Bulletin will publish a detailed account of the steering committee’s activities and report from members in its next issue.

Outside the committee’s work, various alumnae, notably Denise Nelson Nash `76, reached out during the year to Scripps students for informal conversations on diversity. And last fall, a coalition of students claiming that “voices of women of color have been silenced for too long,” convened a teach-in on grievances and issues of concern to women-of-color groups. Following the teach-in, seniors Courtney Mayeda, Elizabeth Lee, and Fabiola Ceballos met with Director of Alumnae Relations Stephanie Vasilovich `82 to discuss the possibility of students working with Alumnae Relations to present a women-of-color event during Alumnae Weekend. This led to the creation of the Alumnae/Student Diversity Committee.

All Day Retreat

On April 21st, the Alumnae/Student Diversity Committee held its first all-day retreat, organized by Fabiolla Ceballos `02 (committee co-chair along with Brenda Ching `93 and Sue Talbot `69) and facilitated by trustee Diana Ho `71. By discussing campus issues, the committee hoped to create links between students and alumnae on the subject of diversity/ multiculturalism and to develop shared goals, programming ideas,and commitment.

Out of the retreat came plans for an alumnae/student mentoring program, regional recruiting activities, leadership training for students, career planning/internship planning/networking programming, and additional alumnae/student retreats.

“The retreat was an eye-opener and excellent starting point for this new relationship between students and alumnae of Scripps,” said Ceballos. “What a success!”

Further, the students on the committee, with the help of alumnae, presented an event on May 3 during Reunion Weekend to which all Scripps alumnae were invited: “A Celebration of Women of Color at Scripps: Connecting the Past to the Present to Build a Positive and Empowering Future.” Approximately, 50 women viewed a teach-in video, “Whose Voice? Whose Vision?,” and attended a Q&A session facilitated by Fabiola Ceballos. Afterward, Michelle Garcia `83 said, “It was great to meet everyone and see the film. The teach-in underscored how courageous and organized the women of color are at Scripps.”

Committee Members

In addition to the co-chairs, members of the Alumnae/Student Diversity committee include: Betzy Barron `03; Coren Cooper `03, Diana Ho `71, trustee; Nancy Katayama `77, trustee; Elizabeth Lee `02; Hun Ly `03; Meghan McCloskey `03; Ofelia Velazquez-Perez `84, Alumnae Association President, 2000-02; Emily Rankin `97, associate director of alumnae relations; Stephanie Vasilovich `82, director of alumnae relations; Alejandra Velez `05; Carolyn Wagner `72, director of foundation and corporate relations; and Vivian Young `03.