Renaming the Lang Building: One Woman’s Journey


Nina Howe-Goldstein ’25
Guest Writer

It is a universally acknowledged truth that Scripps College loves acronyms and abbreviations. The idea is ingrained in new students from their very first days of (case and point) NSPO, where the PCD (Primary Contact Dean) webinar made so many vague references to “alphas” that it took the entire Class of 2025 GroupMe to figure out that it simply meant “alphabet.”

My most miserable encounter with the Scripps abbreviation practices came about one day during course registration, when I made the dutiful pilgrimage to my advisor’s office. It was a hot November day, and I was carrying three Williams Sonoma “Holly Dolly Advent Calendars” (My mother had decided to beat the supply chain hassle by ordering them back in September, and I was praying to the Queen of Country for a registration miracle). I was looking for my advisor’s office, which he had helpfully labeled “Lang 2[redacted]” in an email.

“Oh!” I, like a fool, assumed that it was simple. “He must mean the ‘Language’ Building. My Core classroom is labeled ‘Hum.s 119.’ I’m looking for the second floor of the Languages Building. This is easy, and I am going to win course registration, something that is both reasonable to want and possible to achieve.”

Second question: where was the Languages Building? Having learned from my time in Froutt, I assumed that it might actually be a wing of the Humanities Building. I went there first. No dice. Everything was dark.

Then a bulb lit up in my head, and I felt so clever for remembering that there were language classrooms next to the big auditorium! My advisor must be there! I was keeping him waiting, so I rushed across the lawn and up the stairs.

Out of breath and still lugging Dolly around, I ran into another problem: these room numbers only ran into the low 220s. My advisor’s office did not exist in this hallway, if at all. I knocked on the door to an administrative office.

“Excuse me?” I asked pitifully. Dolly’s smiling face seemed to be laughing at me. “This is the Language Building, right?”

The woman at the desk looked at me with absolute confusion. “This is Balch,” she said.

Eventually we established that I was looking for Lang 2[redacted], and she informed me that it was actually next to Steele. I thanked her profusely and left.

As I walked across the street, it occurred to me that my advisor—an art professor—might have been an unlikely candidate for an office in this fictitious “Language Building” after all. I considered breaking into the Williams Sonoma chocolate a month early. I was definitely late.

Arriving at Steele Hall, I considered the fact that the building is an ugly, ugly structure. The dedication might have actually been an insult to Harry and Grace Steele, not a complement. During move-in, my mother had commented that it needed a powerwash. Knowing her tendency towards politeness, I assumed that she thought it needed to be exploded with dynamite.

Turning right, I finally came face-to-face with the sign I had ignored for the past several months: Florence Rand Lang Art Studios.

“Are you ****ing kidding me??” I thought.

My quest at an end, I rushed up the stairs to my advisor’s office, only to find him still running overtime in conversation with another student. Even Dolly Parton couldn’t save that. I sank to the ground, not quite sobbing, but definitely distressed, and contemplated the nature of deceptive abbreviations.

I have no idea where the actual Florence Rand Lang’s passions lay, but I have to wonder if her interest in the arts could be excused in favor of having mercy on tragically-confused first years. If the school ever gets around to dedicating a specific languages building, could her name not be appropriated for that?

Time is a precious, fleeting thing. It’s something to be treasured while it lasts, like a tender newborn lamb sacrificed at the altar of the Oasis station at Malott, or a Mudder traveling on foot. Let’s not waste it on making abbreviations that actually steal precious hours of our lives.

And when the time comes to rededicate the Lang Studios, could I suggest someone with the first name, “Art”?

Image Source: CO Architects

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