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“The Voice, the Pen”: A Peek into Historical Scripps Student Publications

Ellen Wang ‘25
Copy Editor Intern

Long before The Scripps Voice was founded, a range of student publications graced the racks of Scripps’ campus. Several of them will be highlighted in this piece, along with a hodgepodge of tidbits I discovered while looking through the hard copies at Denison Library.

The Scripps Voice was started in 1991 by Dara Pressley ’93 for women of color and of diverse cultural backgrounds, “the voiceless,” to express their voices on a campus where they were silenced. The origin story as well as a call from Pressley for the paper to find our voice again is published in a noteworthy article from 2018 that can be accessed through the TSV website. That article underscores the value of remembering our history, not just the histories of this paper but of our campus too.

The Scripture
The Scripture (1931-1955) was the earliest and once the longest-running student newspaper at Scripps, now overtaken by TSV. The first edition from Feb. 23, 1931 can be found through the Claremont Colleges Digital Library, where almost half of the editions are digitized. “We believe Scripps College has reached the point in its development where a paper devoted to the news of this campus can be supported and maintained properly,” wrote the founding editors. “The only way to prove this is by the famous trial and error method, so we present the Scripture to the Student Body at large for any criticism and comment. The Scripture, then, is a trial to see whether it can be helpful in any way, if only an amusement. We have not severed our connections with the Pomona Student Life, and we feel that this paper, issued only once a week, will supplement and not replace that publication on the campus.”

A front-page World News segment ran for much of the publication’s history, including snippets such as Volume V Number 9 on Nov. 27, 1934: “President Roosevelt has caused a stir among the representatives of major industries in Washington by his recent pledged support to a program of employment insurance…” Letters to the editor, including one in response to a previous letter allegedly championing “separate but equal” policy (see The Associate section for more on segregationists), offered students an opportunity to express opinions on nearly anything under the sun.

Other neat sections included “Book Marks” spotlighting books at the library and “Odd Passages” – short snippets on happenings around campus: “Last Thursday Browning gave forth the beautiful perfume of burnt frog — just a zealous biology student cooking her project too long. You’ll have to ask her why anyone should want to cook a frog for a biology project.”

The Associate
The Associate was started in 1953 between Scripps, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer College. In the editorials section of the first issue, the editors wrote: “THE ASSOCIATE is the official student newspaper of Scripps, CMC, and HMC, published every Thursday during the academic year, with the exceptions of holidays and examination periods. It strives to promote the best interests of the Tri-Colleges and stands ready to speak out against any action contrary to the good offices and traditions of those institutions. Editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the college administrations, facilities, or the student bodies but the power to express them has been granted by all.”

Among the columns going back and forth about experiential learning was something that stuck out to me, then confused me, then horrified me — a letter sent from Governor of Alabama George Wallace to The Associate was published in the Jan. 23, 1964 issue on the Brown v. School Board Supreme Court case, in which he droned on promoting segregation, asserting that the court’s decision was not “the law of the land” and to be obeyed by all citizens. For the sake of length, please look him up. What was more disturbing was the editors’ agreement to publish the piece in the name of representing “both sides,” but that topic could fill an article of its own.

The Grain
The longest-running literary magazine at Scripps, The Grain, published poems, prose, and artwork into the ’70s. The first issue in 1960 was published by the Scripps Class of 1961; an editor’s note at the beginning of the first edition stated: “It has been felt for several years that Scripps, as a Liberal Arts college, has a definite need for a literary magazine, in which students would be encouraged to express themselves through creative writing. Towards this end, the class of 1961 is publishing the first edition of The Grain. Through the selections chosen, we have tried to capture some of the spirit of the students and the college. We hope that this edition of The Grain will be the first of a continuing series of publications.”

A piece from 1969 covered activism on campus surrounding racial tensions, where Scripps students and faculty met and organized to “arrive at a specific form of action that [they] could commit themselves to in order to demonstrate their support of the autonomous Black Studies Center.”

The Ivy
This Scripps newspaper’s first issue was Sept.-Oct. 1984 containing the headline: “Search Firm Assists in Dean Choice.” The paper also included letters to the editor and covered campus stories like the planning of racism workshops, discourse surrounding a “women’s dorm” corridor, and “Where are the Claremont students on a Friday night?” piece on 5C nightlife.

The then recently-established Pink Triangles, a student organization for LGBTQ+ women, submitted a humorous list for “When You Meet a Lesbian Person: Hints for the Heterosexual Woman,” including #5: “Do not assume you are not attracted to her.”

Bonus Pubs:
Amaranth was a literary magazine from the ’90s that published poems, prose, artwork, and even included an alumni contribution section.

The Script was a short bulletin started in 1975 that showcased a calendar for events on campus as well as student life news and notices. It was put together by one person, similar to our Gossip Squirrel today.

The former Social Science/Political Science corridor had its own weekly publication that featured opinion and miscellaneous writing from its members, such as a 1989 pro-choice piece rallying for action that made me feel things in light of today’s anti-abortion legislation.

The Scripps Journal of interdisciplinary academic writing produced by the Scripps College Writing Program started in 1999, where the first volume included six student essays: among them a Core 1 essay, a Core 3 essay, a Writing 50 Sands Award-winning essay, and other papers from different fields.

The Scripture Volume VIII Number 8 Nov. 23, 1937 issue covered the Dec. 10 release of “The first edition of the Pomona-Scripps literary magazine, ‘The Criterion.’”

Voice
The first issue of what was then called “Voice” (now The Scripps Voice) was published on Oct. 16, 1997. Stories included “Lack of free condoms sparks controversy” regarding resident assistants no longer being required to put a basket of condoms outside their doors and the construction of a new dining hall, Elizabeth Hubert Malott Commons, breaking ground in the old Lang Art building.

The paper began to also publish student poems in addition to feature stories, like the 2000 Dorm Olympics, and opinion pieces, like the April 2, 1998 discourse surrounding starting a sorority at Scripps (a survey reported students voting majority ‘against’). A “Community” page published profiles of members of the campus community such as Residential Network Technician Donna Rueff, who helped Scripps students (then 73% owning computers according to a survey in the article) connect to the network.

In the May 8, 2000 issue, a story covered the Pomona acapella group Men’s Blue and White putting up racist flyers for their winter concert, followed by demands for accountability from AASA (Asian American Student Alliance, a 5-college political group): “The flyer showed a racist picture of a ‘Mongolian warlord’ from old movies, speaking broken English, and advertised the Blue and White concert as ‘more fun than being chased by ‘Mongrel Hordes.’” Needless to say, TSV has always been a needed channel for feminists and women of color on campus.

Venturing through the history of Scripps student publications was quite the journey. It felt bittersweet seeing the progressive measures or calls for progress from decades ago that still remain critical today — heartwarming to know there are histories of resistance and activism that precede my enrollment, generations of Scrippsies (once a derogatory term referenced extensively in the publications I combed through) who have fought these same battles and offer inspiration and hope, and also a poignant reminder that women of color and other marginalized groups were previously barred from attending Scripps, a sentiment reflected in the student body and still pertinent today.

I encourage everyone to check out these historic publications through the library, digitally or in-person at Denison via rare materials appointment, so as we may know our history and never lose our way.

Image Source: Ellen Wang ’25

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