By Emily Glory Peters
Last year as part of its broader mission to accelerate antiracist work on campus and beyond, Scripps College established its first Equity and Justice (EJ) Leadership Team.
The team is currently led by Assistant Dean and SCORE Director Marissiko Wheaton; Associate Dean of Faculty for Racial Equity Mary Hatcher-Skeers; graduate fellow Liz Banuelos-Castro; and Vice President, Secretary of the Board, and Convener of the IDEA Initiative Denise Nelson Nash ’76. Together they create elevated dialogues among Scripps faculty, students, and staff that center on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ). In late June 2022, the EJ team released its inaugural DEIJ progress report to share updates with those connected to Scripps.
“Each member of our community has their own unique voice and experience,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Amy Marcus-Newhall in the report’s opening letter. “This year-end report highlights the many ways our community stepped up and stepped out of the confines and forged new pathways to enhance and accelerate the College’s DEIJ goals and foreground antiracism work.”
DEIJ Learning Opportunities
This year, the EJ team partnered with several departments across the College to lead workshops for staff, faculty, and trustees on DEIJ topics. Discussions focused on creating community in classrooms, belonging, gender identity and pronouns, trauma-informed practices, and the intersection of learning, language, and leadership.
Thanks to donor gifts to Scripps’ Creating Community Fund, the team also connected with students at its fall community dinner and spring leader lunch, which they co-hosted with Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE).
Additionally, Scripps sent more than 80 faculty, staff, and trustees to attend monthly virtual sessions with USC’s Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA), a coalition of colleges dedicated to advancing antiracism in higher education. Resources and recordings from these “eConvenings” were collected and shared with the broader Scripps community. Themes included hiring and retaining faculty of color, fostering inclusive classrooms for students of color, leading productive conversations about race, recovering from COVID-19’s racial inequalities, meaningfully integrating racial topics in curriculum, and many others.
DEIJ Research Opportunities
A generous donor gift has enabled Scripps to fund its own antiracist research through student and faculty fellowships. This spring, the College awarded grants to its second cohort of fellows, including Lincoln Visiting Artist in Ceramics Jasmine Baetz, alum and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Melissa Mesinas ’12, and Assistant Professor of Africana Studies Maryan Soliman, as well as students Molly Chao Yeselson ’23, Lizbeth Valdivia-Jauregui ’22, and Mica Barrett ’23.
“I’ve heard anecdotally about the minimal effort other selective liberal arts (SLA) colleges across the nation are putting into equity initiatives,” shares Barrett. “I am more motivated than ever to do my part in contributing to the development of administrative, academic, and social antiracism on campus.”
To better understand campus perspectives on DEIJ at Scripps, the College also administered the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) survey to students and staff. The survey received a 25 percent and 33 percent response rate, respectively, and the EJ team will leverage their valuable feedback in upcoming DEIJ initiatives.
Looking Ahead to Future DEIJ Projects
While the EJ team has enriched existing DEIJ programs and laid the foundation for new projects, more is on the horizon at Scripps.
Future goals for 2022–2023 include updating the College’s diversity and inclusion plan, distributing the NACCC results and its corresponding action plan, increasing participation in DEIJ workshops with a target of involving 100 percent of the campus community, collaboration with new Scripps President Suzanne Keen for high-impact DEIJ practices, and securing sustainable funding for the EJ team’s projects. Support from Scripps’ community will continue to be essential in keeping momentum high for this necessary work.
“As we look to the next academic year, the focus will remain on community building,” noted Marcus-Newhall in the report. “Your voice counts.”
Scripps is committed to embedding antiracist practices and policies into our College culture. To make a gift to our Racial Justice and Equity Fund, please click here.