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Message From President Tiedens: Scripps Stands Against Racism

Dear Scripps Community Members,

Over the past several weeks, our national consciousness has been inundated with evidence of the racial violence repeatedly perpetrated against Black communities. Throughout the world, people are uniting in their call for an end to the systemic and structural racism that deprives Black people of their lives, freedom, opportunities, and human dignity. Recognizing that recent events are manifestations of a deep-rooted, historic legacy of inequality, millions of protestors have called for concrete and tangible action to end police brutality and affirm the value of Black lives. So too, have members of the Scripps community expressed the need for real action and particular plans to address our own history of institutional racism and its cumulative effect on Black students, faculty, and staff.

Far too many of our Black students, other students of color, and alumnae, staff, and faculty of color have not felt the sense of belonging, value, and support that we intend to provide on campus. Worse, many have experienced Scripps as a place that does not care about or attempt to understand the challenges, frustrations, and pain that result from navigating an environment that they do not perceive as designed for their success. This differential access to the Scripps promise is not acceptable. Scripps was built to expand access to education and eliminate disparities in opportunity, and we must continue our work to ensure that this core value is upheld and realized for our Black students and all students of color.

The senior team has worked together to identify the following actions the College will take in the coming months to expand support for Black students, elevate the community’s consciousness about race and racism, and measure and communicate the progress of our efforts to address inequalities experienced by students, faculty, and staff of color:

·         Establish a fellowship program to provide grants to faculty and students for research, internships, and service projects designed to advance scholarship and impact on national, statewide, and local racial justice, inequality, criminal justice reform, and related topics. This program was established by a generous donor and will be sustained through private philanthropy.

·         Require anti-racist learning modules for the Scripps community. We will form a working group of faculty, students, and staff to identify and create content and incorporate learning modules into the Scripps experience. 

·         Create a public dashboard measuring the College’s progress toward increasing diversity, creating better experiences for marginalized groups on campus, and eradicating institutional racism.

·         Implement recommendations from the 2019-20 Presidential Committee on Inclusion Diversity, and Equity:

·        Revise the Scripps Community Principles of Diversity with community input and display prominently on the IDEA website.

·         Conduct a review, inventory, and gap analysis of all College activity regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion to catalog and assess current IDEA activities and initiatives.

·        Collaborate with members of the Tongva community in identifying where and how to incorporate and acknowledge the history of the Indigenous people of the area with the history of the College.

·        Augment existing mental health and wellness resources with app-based services.

·        Remove the eight-session limit for the off-campus referral program for mental health services, expanding student access to therapists from diverse backgrounds. This change will take effect this fall.

·         Expand campus and public programs that foster dialogue, engagement, and reflection on urgent topics such as systemic racism, transformative organizing, and the disparate effects of the pandemic on communities of color.

·         Designate June 19th as an official day of observance of Juneteenth, the annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Members of the Scripps community will be given a day off and encouraged to spend the time reflecting on how each of us can participate in and contribute to the dismantling of racism in our community.

To ensure that these and other initiatives achieve sustainable change and eradicate institutional inequality, we will also prioritize fundraising for the following initiatives designed to drive structural change and secure our future as a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community:

·         Prioritize establishment of and seek funding for a Faculty Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This person will be tasked with developing strategies for inclusive pedagogy and anti-racist education, hiring and retention of underrepresented faculty, and serve as a resource to and collaborator with Dean of Students, including Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE), Admission, the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) initiative, and Human Resources. Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Amy Marcus-Newhall will assemble a faculty working group to scope out the role and responsibilities of the position, maximize faculty expertise in and commitment to anti-racism, and determine the structure that will best generate the necessary integration across the College. 

·         Promote existing giving opportunities that support diversity, equity, and inclusion and benefit underrepresented students, such as the Presidential Scholarship Initiative, Student Emergency Fund, SCORE, and the First-Generation @ Scripps program. Invite alumnae, families, and friends to designate gifts for racial justice and equity initiatives such as educational programming, community-building, and civic engagement opportunities in surrounding communities.

These strategies aim to build on the ongoing work of students, staff, and faculty, the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) initiative, efforts that have been led for years by the Dean of Students and the Dean of Faculty to create an inclusive living and learning environment, and the expansion of enrollment strategies to diversify our applicant pool by the Admission and Enrollment team. We will continue to engage our community in conversations over the summer and into the fall to seek input and ideas about how best to amplify and accelerate our efforts to create a more equitable environment.

Mapping the path forward will require the consistent and ongoing energy and investment of the entire Scripps community. I am confident that we have the desire and the will—and we are developing the processes and resources—to combat systemic racism, support students, faculty, and staff of color, and advance social justice on this campus and in our local, national, and global communities.

Sincerely,

Lara Tiedens, President

Dean Calvo, Treasurer and Vice President for Business Affairs

Binti Harvey, Vice President for External Relations and Institutional Advancement

Charlotte Johnson, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs

Amy Marcus-Newhall, Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs

Denise Nelson Nash, Vice President, Secretary of the Board, and Convener, IDEA Initiative

Victoria Romero, Vice President for Enrollment

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