Overheard at Scripps

By: Alexandra Rivasplata, Scripps ’22
Staff Writer

My first year at Scripps has been quite a memorable one. I have endured orientation, made it to (almost) every lecture during CORE 1, seen the rise and fall of Writing 50, met life-long friends, and danced many nights away. For all of these memories, I am so grateful. But, as my first two semesters here come to a close, I feel a strong need to articulate this: Scripps deserves better…from everyone.

As a historically women’s college that is part of a greater co-ed consortium, I knew that attending Scripps would come with its fair share of challenges. Before I stepped onto the Scripps campus as a student for the first time, I was already very well aware of 5C culture and the stereotyping within it. However, Scripps is set apart by these stereotypes because they insult the intelligence and sexual autonomy of Scripps students.

The thing is, this perception is unfounded.

The argument is that Scripps is statistically not academically on par with the rest of the Claremont Colleges. We’ve been told that the average admission test scores and GPAs of an accepted/enrolled Scripps student is lower than that of one that may attend the other 5Cs. The ranking of the other institutions are higher.

Let’s clear up this misconception right away: this is simply untrue. According to the Office of Admissions, Scripps students have virtually the same or better GPA, ACT, and SAT scores as students at both Pitzer and Claremont McKenna College. Moreover, these scores are not far below those of Pomona and Harvey Mudd students.

It is also important to keep in mind that Scripps is a self-selecting college in which half of the population is excluded from the application process. Moreover, rankings of colleges are often based on alumni network, endowments, and salaries made after graduation. These are factors that are automatically lower in women’s colleges in a country where it takes until April 2 for the average woman – race excluded – to make the same pay as a man does by December 31. Lastly, Scripps is less than 100 years old. As a college that once regularly admitted fewer than thirty students, Scripps does not yet have the money or the network to gain the prestige of some of its older women’s colleges which have had since the 1830s to acquire them.

Despite our peers suggesting that the statistics and rankings indicate otherwise, Scripps students are held to the same standard as its peers at the other campuses. Thus, there is no reasoning behind the unbalanced power dynamic Scripps students face on a daily basis. So why does everyone still think Scripps students are not as smart as the rest of the students at the Claremont Colleges if not because of discrepancies in statistics? Largely, because they don’t know the facts. By being a relatively new women’s college, being a self-selecting institution and subsequently having a deflated the admittance rate, it is clear that admittance rate is not an unbiased reflection of the caliber of students that attend. But, we can’t ignore the other reason: Good, old, never-ending sexism.

At the end of the day, Scripps is a women’s college. No matter what the stats are, no matter the caliber, Scripps is always going to come out last when compared to the other colleges.

The stereotypes of Scripps derive from the misogyny that coils inside of our peers. Sure, Pitzer has to deal with being “the potheads” and Harvey Mudd is known as being “anti-social, computer science majors”. These stereotypes may as well be unfair and disrespectful in their own way. However, no one can deny there is a difference between these, and the students at Scripps being told that their IQs are lower than those of the students at the rest of the 5Cs, as Dena Kleemeier was told, simply because they are from Scripps. Not because of any substance or lifestyle, but because they are at a women’s institution with an acceptance rate and a ranking that is not ‘on par’ with its neighbors.

Many students at Scripps express feeling “disempowered” because of the constant need and pressure they face to prove they are academically on par with their peers and thus gain their respect. Stories of classmates across the 5Cs exclaiming Scripps classes “are classes you take for easy As,” or professors saying that majors may be ‘too difficult’ for them are just handfuls of academic disrespect the Claremont Colleges direct towards its Scripps students.

“I internalized the power dynamics…at some points,” Samhita Kadiyala ’21 posted in a Facebook thread about her first-year experience. “I felt proud that people thought I went to Pomona, I would almost put myself on some weird pseudo-Pomona pedestal above my own [Scripps] classmates, and that sort of thinking is so toxic.”

Due to the assumption that numbers and rankings make Scripps students ‘unworthy’ of being in classes with the rest of their peers or that they are bound to perform poorly in comparison, Scripps students often feel a pressure to prove their worth. They do this not only for themselves but for Scripps, as if performing well will somehow legitimize the institution in the eyes of those around them.

Another aspect of being a Scripps student that I was not prepared for was the sheer amount of inappropriate sexual comments students receive. Remarks regarding Scripps students’ sexual orientation and sensuality are irritating, potentially gross, and widely, unnecessary. These are typically remarks shared by women of other women’s colleges because of the negative connotations people have about attending a women’s college.

When I asked for Scripps students to share experiences of when they have been faced with overly sexist remarks regarding sexuality I was shocked by some of the responses. One common thread was that Scripps students are assumed to be sexually ‘easy.’

“My freshman year [I] had a guy at a party tell me he loved [S]cripps girls because we were “easy meat” to my face,” Layla Moehring ’19 said.

This hurtful stereotype translates into disrespect that then is associated with the way Scripps students should be treated. There is a perception that Scripps students must act less like “Scrippsies” to earn respect. This is dangerous behavior: it does not make it acceptable to oversexualize students simply because of the college they chose to attend.

Moreover, the conclusion that a women’s college surrounded by co-educational colleges are just looking to ‘steal’ men and will be ‘easy’ because of this perpetuates an unhealthy culture in which Scripps students begin to receive less respect in other aspects of their lives.

“[Once my econ professor asked how] much I would be willing to pay for a drink and then cut me off before I could answer to say, ‘well you don’t know how much a drink costs cause pretty girls never have to buy their own drinks,’’” Zaidee Laughlin ’20 said.

When Scripps students are not facing explicit instances of sexism or condescension regarding their intelligence and sensuality, they are reminded of it in regular discussion. In 5C-stereotype based memes, in which students love teasing and focusing on perpetuating outdated, annoying, and boring judgments. Yet, there is something different about the Scripps memes. When we ask ourselves where this misogyny and sexism come from, gender-based microaggressions reveal themselves when we least expect it: memes insulting the intelligence and sensuality of Scripps girls are excuses to perpetuate biases. By choosing a women’s college in Southern California, I am prepared to be the butt of many jokes.But let’s keep it at jokes. We cannot, as a consortium, continue to perpetuate this idea that Scripps students can’t keep up academically. We cannot accept that because Scripps students must walk four feet off of their own campus to interact with cis-men, they don’t deserve the same sexual respect that the women at the other colleges receive.

The 5Cs love to tear each other down, but what binds them together even more than that is the shared love of tearing Scripps students down.