Dear President Lori Bettison-Varga and the Scripps Board of Trustees,
As members of the Scripps College community, we hold a deep love for our college, the ideals it stands for, and its future potential. Among those ideals is diversity. When we came to Scripps, we were told that, here, we didn’t have to choose between our myriad interests in the arts, sciences, social activism, business, law, technology, or public service. We felt encouraged, then, when the mission statement of the LASPA Center for Leadership reflected values Scripps purports to uphold by emphasizing a wide range of opportunities in a multitude of sectors. The rejection of Margaret Okazawa-Rey symbolized a rejection of a vision of diversity and inclusivity for both the LASPA Center and Scripps College as an institution.
We believe that LASPA can serve the breadth of interests, talents, and voices of Scripps students. Students are interested in business, STEM, community engagement, yet no resources in these fields are available on our campus. The LASPA Center must provide the resources, opportunities, and real-world connections for students to develop 21st century leadership across these fields in order to give back to our communities and the College. As a diverse group of CLORG members and student leaders, we know it is essential that the values of LASPA are centered around the needs of underrepresented groups. An institution that enables the most marginalized members of its community to thrive will inevitably benefit all of its constituents.
Establishing a unique identity for Scripps is essential to the growth of our college, and the LASPA center provides a crucial opportunity to do just that. Though we look to the models set forth by the other Claremont Colleges—Claremont McKenna’s Kravis Leadership Center that fuels the spirit of entrepreneurship at CMC or Pomona’s Draper Center that develops community partnerships—we are not the other Claremont Colleges. Scripps has the essential values to encompass all interests, and the LASPA Center need not marginalize some in order to advance others. Instead, we envision an interdisciplinary center that upholds Scripps’ value of diversity and inclusivity by reflecting students’ many interests. Building interdisciplinary leadership in the 21st century requires embracing social responsibility, consciousness, and ethics—qualities that mark Scripps students as exemplary leaders.
These values are imperative and must be explicitly integrated into the mission of the LASPA Center. In order to create not only a more inclusive LASPA Center but also a future for Scripps with more justice, knowledge, and truth, we believe the following demands are non-negotiable:
1) The values of diversity and inclusivity should be at the Center’s core. This means that the needs and voices of under-represented and marginalized groups will inform all aspects of the center’s work, which will then serve as an organizational model both nationally and internationally.
The LASPA Founding Director must have a vision that compasses our institution’s commitment to diversity. This vision must be achieved in collaboration with students, faculty and staff.
2) The mission of the Center must include a definitive statement that bans the training of leaders who perpetuate systems of exploitation in all sectors (the corporate world, government, civil society).
A student vetoing system should be implemented to ensure a system of checks and balances in the event that the Director or any LASPA staff member pursues a collaboration with an organization that violates this stance against exploitation.
3) The LASPA Center must work to enhance, rather than detract energy and resources away from, the pre-existing work of CP&R, SCORE, or Off-Campus Study.
4) The LASPA Center must work to create leaders in all fields who are socially conscious, responsible, and accountable to the diverse experience of the Scripps community.
This includes better support within the center for students in all fields, including art, science, NGOs, government, entrepreneurship, social activism, technology, law, and public service. We stress the importance of not segregating these fields, but instead incorporating interdisciplinary methods of bridging their differences.
5) The numbers of faculty, staff, students, alumni, Board of Trustee members, and other constituents who voted for each of the final Director candidates must be published in Scripps Voice or in the Student Union.
6) The foci expressed in the Center’s acronym must be defined. The College should collaborate with faculty to define “analysis” and “scholarship” and with SCORE to define “public service” and “action” in order to build on work already in process, thus allowing the LASPA Center to smoothly transition into the campus climate. These outcomes should be published in Scripps Voice or in the Student Union.
7) Hire a Program Coordinator at SCORE that has all of their FTEs at SCORE and is limited to sitting on no more than two committees. We demand that funds for this new position be allotted from the We Want More campaign.
8) Raise the wage for maintenance and housekeeping workers and all workers not currently earning a living wage. We demand that the colleges do not hire temporary workers, and do not engage in the practice of scheduling a 28-hour work week when there is a minimum number of 30 hours to receive benefits, as Pitzer has done.
9) Increase resources for Black, Latina, Native American, Trans* and Disabled Scripps students by increasing the number of Scripps staff who have knowledge of working in these marginalized communities and increasing financial resources.
10) Strengthen Scripps’s commitment to women by strengthening the Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies Department. Increase the budget of the department and open 2 new positions up in addition to the one that Professor Chris Guzaitis quit.
The signed organizations below endorse the demands proposed in this letter. A detailed response to each of the demands including how the President will achieve each demand is required in print by March 10th, 2014.
Asian American Student Union
Asian American Sponsor Program
Café Con Leche
Disability, Illness, and Difference Alliance
Indigenous Students Alliance
The Editors-in-Chief of The Scripps Voice [Megan Petersen & Aidan Harley]