@Scripps Culture

Topless at Tiernan: The Attack on Areolas

Anna Odell ’27 and Chloe Swickard ’27
Social Media Manager and Staff Writer

Nipples. We all have them, and they come in many shapes and sizes: brown, pink, tan, hairy, the size of pepperonis or a penny, or one more than normal if you’re Harry Styles. Yet, according to Scripps’ policy, those nipples must be covered if they’re attached to anyone who identifies as a female. This clearly aligns with our society’s traditional view regarding nipples, which is that any nipples attached to anything resembling a boob should be covered (i.e. some trans men, men with gyno, etc). While Scripps may come across as progressive compared to society’s customs, as they advocate for women’s rights and seem to embrace gender-expression in all its forms, a closer look at their policy reveals baffling logic.

This conversation was initiated by the student-run Topless at Tiernan event, a space envisioned to be safe and empowering for Scripps students to go topless during Scripps Only Hours and defy the aforementioned societal standards regarding the female nipple. We arrived fashionably late, being the professional investigative journalists we are, and immediately noticed the event being tampered with. A large sign stated, “Reminder! Appropriate swimwear must be worn in pool area. Tops are required for folks who identify as female.” This stood guard at the entrance of the pool, ensuring that nobody missed the message.

The pool itself was being watched by two administrators, patrolling the area and preventing students from committing the heinous crime of freeing their nips. The first brave soul to take their top off was quickly instructed to cover up. Other Scrippsies present observed this and became wary to take off their tops, tarnishing the intention of the event.

One attendee, Lily Camp ’27, voiced her frustrations. “The fact that a bunch of people came here with the hope of being able to be topless and that being acceptable, and then to be told that they can’t is really strange,” she said.

When asked if they thought the nature of the event would have been empowering, many Scrippsies responded positively. “I think it’s definitely empowering, but I do think it’s performative if Scripps is like ‘oh we’re pro-women’ but when it comes to women organizing events where they can have their bodies out, they stop it,” said Julia Buchanan ’26.

Despite the initial setbacks, more people came to the event and united under a common goal. Soon enough, about one-fifth of the students in the pool had their tops off, overwhelming the two administrators. We witnessed Deborah Gisvold, Assistant Dean and Director of Tiernan, march over to one of the topless students and ask, “Do you know our policy? If you identify as female you have to cover up.”

These commands, however, seemed to have the opposite effect; students became increasingly motivated to rebel against the policy. Tops kept coming off and nipples were multiplying. The administrators were virtually powerless against it because of the many students that started participating.

The frustrating aspect was that having one’s boobs out wasn’t an issue, until the individual identified as female. This policy at its core appears anti-women and doesn’t align with Scripps’ usually gender-inclusive and accepting culture. What made this event different from past nude events, such as the annual senior Naked Brunch held every spring? We reached out to past SAS presidents to understand the process behind Naked Brunch.

“We worked closely with administration and OSE, and they already knew the ‘drill’ when it came to orbiting and set-up,” anonymous former members of SAS explained. “There weren’t any major problems regarding the Scripps policy, but during the event we had about a ton of ‘adult staff’ monitoring the event from the outside, which felt a little intimidating for students.”

Naked Brunch has been a tradition for many years and is organized professionally by the senior class presidents. Our interviewees described the Scripps’ faculty as more than happy to hold the event, so we asked for advice regarding the planning of similar nude gatherings in the future.

“I would definitely work with people in OSE first since they were the ones who helped us organize this entire event,” the former SAS presidents advised. “They can’t really help you get the event approved, though; that usually comes from the Dean and if they will allow it.”

As Naked Brunch has been a tradition for many years, it’s hypocritical of the administration to permit it while refusing to allow an event like Topless at Tiernan to take place. Tiernan has Scripps Only Hours, so being topless should be an option for students during these hours and it should not have to be an arranged activity.

The resounding consensus from the Scrippsies we spoke to was that a weekly Topless at Tiernan day would be empowering and enriching for our tight-knit community. There is power in numbers, and hopefully the whispers of a recurring #freethenipfridays will gain traction. For all those reading, Scripps Only Hours are Friday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Be there or be square.

Image Source: Alyssa Wend ’24