A LOOK AT SCRIPPS’ NEW CAMPAIGN: DO WE WANT MORE?

Each and every morning when I walk out of the intricately lovely Toll Hall to start my day, the beauty of Scripps College strikes me, no matter how much else is on my mind.The well-kept orange trees lining the walkways, which wind among beautiful buildings, astonishing gardens, and manicured lawns; the mountains; the blue skies; the happy students — all are daily reminders that I am exceedingly privileged to be able to call such a beautiful place my home.Yet beginning at the end of last semester when the “We Want More”fundraising campaign was launched,black and white banners demanding“more justice,” “more knowledge,”“more beauty,” “more truth,” “more opportunity,” “more innovation,”and “more leadership” appeared all around campus, detracting from the beauty of Scripps College, and leaving many students uneasy or downright infuriated.“Of course we want to raise more funds,” says Hannah Huston(’17). “But proclaiming ‘we want more’ sounds so ridiculously bratty that I’m embarrassed by it.”She’s not the only one who feels this way. Ali Smith (’17) says, “It makes us seem as though our faculty and student body are sitting around and complaining about our already very well-off and privileged school, and not actually putting the work in to get the things that we are legitimately lacking. Especially when looking at the boards where students were asked to write the things that we want more of, and seeing that they are primarily complaints about petty things like our limited selection of dining hall salad dressings.”Several students have also pointed out the classism of the campaign.Says Aidan Harley (’16) “While I cringe at the words ‘we want more,’ and the blatancy with which we are demanding more money, I think it ironically highlights how little we talk about and understand material wealth and material privilege on this campus. I wait for the day when this school can have an honest conversation not only about the ways in which class is quietly but firmly asserted on campus, but also the ways in which our school operates that assumes all students are materially privileged.” This concept struck Isabella Rosett (’17) and her family just as strongly: “When my dad first got the promotional letter with the [we want more] motto on it,he texted me saying, ‘Sorry Scripps,you already have all my money and my only daughter, not much else I can give.’ Now that’s all I can think of when I see those banners.”But beyond t h i s , publicly proclaiming that “we want more”means, in the words of President Bettison-Varga, “no complacency.No settling. It means taking on the challenge of victories not yet won.Discoveries not yet made. Answers not yet found,” is in direct conflict with what many Scripps students believe in. Certainly it seems to go against everything I and other first years learned in Core I this past semester. Affirms a Scripps student who prefers to remain anonymous,“Beyond the sense of discontent and greed suggested by the slogan,it seemed to undermine the values that were emphasized in Core I and other Scripps courses. I had been encouraged to recognize and to question privilege, to appreciate more than I ever had before my access to such wonderful academic opportunities when such chances are unavailable to such a large portion of the world’s population,by no fault of their own. After discussions regarding the unjust distribution of power, the need to strive for equity and to recognize and correct exploitative patterns currently apportioning power, it seemed like ‘WE WANT MORE’ was the wrong way to share the Scripps vision.”In fact, during our unit on colonialism, right before a lecture regarding the genocide and subsequent misrepresentation of Native Americans and their culture, a flyer appeared comparing Scripps’ self-declared new vision to expand as part of its destiny(for, proclaims the fund-raising video, “When Ellen Browning Scripps founded Scripps College, she wanted more [and] had no intention for settling for less, and neither do we”),with the vision of Manifest Destiny which inspired “American” men and women to take over more resources for their own means, regardless of the genocide and unjust distribution of power the fulfillment of their vision cause. (While fundraising is certainly an exceedingly far shot from genocide, the correlation between the two visions in terms of perpetuating the unequal distribution of resources is clear.)The “We Want More” angle of the $175 million fundraising campaign misrepresents what Scripps students are all about. While not all object to the campaign in and of itself, the seemingly greedy and classist way in which the campaign has been publicized makes many feel uneasy,ashamed, and outraged. In fact,some have even commented that if they had seen those banners as prospective students, they would have felt a lot differently about the school.True to Scripps’ character, the students and families I spoke with did not voice complaints without offering solutions. A student who wishes to remain anonymous best articulates the view that many people have voiced in response to the campaign: “Perhaps we should focus on sharing the remarkable resources that we already have,and voice our gratitude.” Come on, Scripps. You can BE more.