Then and Now: A Glimpse at Scripps from 1978

By Deborah Patton Partain ’78Guest Writer

Motley to the View didn’t exist, there was no Scripps Store, every dorm had its own dining hall, and Claremont McKenna was still Claremont Men’s College when I began my years at Scripps. My daughter grew up hearing stories about the four-college water fight in September and the constantly stolen “No-Tell Motel” sign hanging outside of North Dorm at Harvey Mudd that flashed into my dorm window every night. I told her about the candlelight processional that spread through Scripps as women gathered to sing carols on the cold December nights and Thursday night study breaks that started at 10 p.m. in a Scripps dorm living room every week.

Reny listened in disbelief as I described the two hour shifts everyone in the dorm had to take each week, working a switchboard for incoming calls that looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Or the computer room that was a remote terminal in a windowless room in the Humanities Building where I tried to feed in hundreds of cards to get my analysis of variance to run in time for my next statistics class.

I came to Scripps with an interest in an obscure disability, autism. My interest was nurtured and became my passion—and then my profession. As a Psychology major I was able to study applied behavior analysis, children in contemporary cultures and developmental psychobiology, but still find time for classes in life drawing, Irish literature and Chamber Ensemble.

Perhaps it was my quiet comments about the diversity of intellectual pursuits available at Scripps that first caught my daughter’s interest. Maybe it was the tone of reverence in my voice when I spoke of the peace of Denison Library and the reading room that was my favorite study retreat that made her look closely at my alma mater. Perhaps it was recounting the relationships I developed with professors during my years at Scripps, sipping tea with the Writer in Residence in his office while we discussed Beckett and Brecht, where I knew my voice was heard and my opinions were valued, that made Reny choose Scripps for herself.

I never intentionally urged Reny to apply to Scripps. In fact, during her college search I was almost mute on the subject. Yet, I was thrilled when she shared that Scripps was her top choice because I wanted her to experience all the exceptionally unique qualities that made Scripps perfect for me.  Over the years many things have changed at Scripps, and the traditions have been modified to fit the times. Everyone has a cell phone and a laptop and TNC is at CMC rather than Scripps. But the relationships at the core of the educational experience remain the same; professors still care intensely about their students, the students are passionate about learning and women are empowered and respected in the Scripps Community.