Diversity, Sensitivity and Core I

By Elizabeth Lyon '12, Contributing Writer

In trying to make Scripps a more welcoming place, a few changes have been taking place. On Sept. 29, six students and three professors met to discuss the infractions of trust, mutual respect and free speech that have been occurring in Core I discussions.

The meeting occurred because of three discrete in- cidences of racist and classist comments being made—by students and professors alike—in Core I discussions. The first of these incidents occurred in a Core I discussion class being led by Professor John Peavoy. In another case, a student felt like her comments had no validity in class because of her ra- cial demographic. Additionally, some students feel alienated by class discussions and reading, and do not feel comfortable contributing their opinions.

The student-faculty committee will check in with one another on a weekly basis, alerting one another to any issues that arise. In addition to addressing issues as they arise, student representatives and faculty will meet fortnightly. The current means of addressing these sensitive issues is retroactive, but the committee hopes to expand to anticipate and prevent such incidents in the future.

The committee wants to find a standardized way to encourage trust and respect for everyone’s opinions in the classroom, and to establish a formalized way for students to address issues as they arise. Members of the committee want diversity workshops to be made part of first-year orientation and require first-years to attend events on diversity. Committee members have also suggested that professors go through sensitivity and diversity training.

Wanawake Weusi President Zaneh Williams (’14), who is one of the students in the student-faculty committee, expressed skepticism over the progress being made during these talks. “Scripps is not doing anything to address the real issues,” said Williams. “It’s much deeper than Core discussions. What we need to address is the lack of an inclusive environment to all students regardless of race, socio-economic status or sexual orientation. The administration says we should ‘talk about it,’ but talking is not actively changing the situation.” One solution to these problems, Williams said, would be to have a more diverse student body and faculty, with unified administration to support all students.

Over the first weekend in Octo- ber, members of SCORE gathered to watch Whose Voice? Whose Vision?, a DVD created 10 years ago to address is- sues regarding diversity.

“These are problems we saw ten years ago,” Williams said. “We’re still dealing with the same problems now as we did then, which shows the lack of progress and interest pertaining to these issues on campus.”

Additionally, the committee briefly discussed Core I readings. It has been noted that the readings privilege a heteronormative identity and some international students feel alienated from the curriculum.