I love you Scripps, and that’s why I need you to change. There are these things that you keep doing that leave me sad and frustrated. It’s why I spent all night campaigning, flyering, writing, meeting. Because I want to see change. I need to feel hope.
One of the best parts of the College is the amazing people here. If it wasn’t for them, going here would be a much sadder experience. There was an e-mail sent out recently by President Lori Bettison-Varga stating that the search for a LASPA director was going to be restarted. LASPA is a leadership center that Scripps will inaugurate next year. The search for a director had whittled down to two candidates, one being Margo Okazawa-Rey. Besides being involved in international anti-violence work and being one of the founding members of the Combahee River Collective, she has the credentials and decades of work experience for the job. She was the director of other leadership centers, and is committed to fostering every student’s individual type of leadership.
On a personal note, I had met with her over the summer, where she was scheduled to give the generic “diversity” talk for the organization I was a part of. To my surprise, she went above and beyond in her work. Unusual for a one hour talk on diversity, she covered complex areas such as hegemony and intersectionality. Immediately after the talk, I went to one of the Scripps administrators and said, “I would love her to be the speaker for the first years’ diversity and inclusivity meeting.” She didn’t get the position, but they reassured me that the chosen speaker they hired would be just as great.
So of course I was thrilled to see her be a candidate for the LASPA director position. Because I knew she would be amazing. Because she was a queer woman of color (Japanese/Black) who would look out for the interest of underserved communities. Administrators, in my eyes, had always painted this center as somewhere I would not want to be. Something that cannot serve me. (Note: The following was told to me over the summer so the plans might have changed.) It would have a wall full of LCD screens, so that they can constantly broadcast the world’s news. They would also be used in order for Scripps students to have video conferences with leaders across the world and to have their job interviews with employers outside of California. To me, it serves to evoke images of what it would look like if a corporation had a child with the United Nations.
Margo Okazawa-Rey, with her candidacy, inspired me to broaden my view of the center. She introduced values that could be essential for creating a successful center, even if it wasn’t the one receiving the most donations. We could have a center that also focuses on social justice. On community engagement, not just internationally, but with our local surroundings, like Ontario and Pomona. We could helpeveryone, and develop each type of leadership, including campaigning for public office, community organizing and teaching.
In order to advocate for her selection, there were petitions, surveys and individual letters sent out. In addition, she had the support from the faculty in the selection committee and from alumni. And yet, she wasn’t chosen. Actually, no one was chosen since the process has been restarted. And that, to me, was a way of shattering my dreams. We were all confused. As a student body. Angry too. Because if Lori-Bettison Varga will not acknowledge the product of a democratic process, then why even have it to begin with? Why ask for student input at that point?
What kept me sane, and what is still keeping me sane, is that there are many people that feel the way I do. Because if I were the only one, or I didn’t know anyone else, I knew it would have weighed on me. Because there are fewer feelings that sink to your gut than that of being silenced. Then that of feeling incompetent, knowing there is nothing you can do.
And so I am grateful to have so many amazing people around here that can fight back. So that we can join together and make sure we are heard. So that I can keep having hope that Scripps can be a place for students, whom outside of the Bubble, are already cast out.