The Scripps Experience: Women’s History Month: Programming Celebrates Leadership in Action

As a women’s institution, Scripps College constantly celebrates female leadership, empowerment, and achievement. Yet March, marked by Women’s History Month, calls for extra attention. Since the month’s designation in 1987, Scripps has honored women’s contributions to history and society through additional programming and events. This year, students had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend a Women and Congress seminar; lunch with women composers who are breaking new ground; listen to Opal Tometi, CEO of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, speak about racial justice; and to learn about sustainability through a feminist lens through SCORE’s Sustainability Series.

Students Take an Alternative Spring Break

Laspa Students Take an Alternative Spring Break

During this year’s spring break, eleven Scripps students traded their swimsuits for business suits. Through the Alternative Spring Break program, funded by the Laspa Center for Leadership, participants flew to Washington, D.C., to attend a Preparing Women to Lead (PLEN) Women and Congress seminar, meet with Scripps alumnae, and visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

At the Women and Congress seminar, Scripps students networked with students from other women’s institutions and women from all sectors of Congress who are leading national policy.

“There is something really special about uniting with other women’s institutions,” says Lauren Bartlett, program coordinator of the Laspa Center. “To be in a women-centered space with national leaders, you’re able to envision yourself with how you can fit in with a growing community.”

Opal Tometi Speaks at Scripps

Opal Tometi Speaks at Scripps College

Opal Tometi, the CEO of Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and a co-founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, spoke in Garrison Theater on March 22 about her advocacy for racial justice and what leadership means to her in the 21st century.

BAJI engages African American and black immigrant communities around racial, social, and economic justice issues. Local BAJI organizing committees in California, Georgia, and New York have built coalitions and initiated campaigns around, among other things, developing community-based alternatives to policing, pressuring cities to divest from private prisons, and facilitating communication between African diasporic communities.

A Nigerian American, Tometi also discussed race from an intersectional perspective.

“We thought Tometi would be someone our students could learn more about and would enjoy seeing,” says Bartlett. “She has a rich background that is relevant to them today.”

The event was co-sponsored by the Laspa Center for Leadership, the Scripps College Humanities Institute, and Scripps Presents.

Laspa Scholars Lunch with Prominent Women Composers

In partnership with Scripps’ Art and Music Departments, the Laspa Center co-sponsored two luncheons, with musicians Bosba Panh and Scripps alumna Anna Walton ’14, on the topic of women pursuing music careers.

Panh is a 21-year-old Cambodian composer and performer who is currently a student at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Interested in blending traditional Cambodian music with influences from Western music and jazz, she has released numerous recordings of her work, including albums and concert films. Walton is a composer of chamber, choral, and electronic music whose works have been performed across the U.S. and Europe. Her compositions are inspired by the sounds of natural spaces and the rhythms of everyday life.

SCORE, Laspa, and Sustainability Partner for a Sustainability Series

How do environmental justice challenges disproportionately impact women? What are women’s roles in promoting sustainable living? What does the term “ecofeminism” mean?

These are a few of the questions that were discussed throughout Scripps’ Sustainability Series. The semester-long series is a joint partnership between Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE), Sustainability Initiative, and the Laspa Center for Leadership focused on providing educational events and opportunities for action that target leadership, sustainability, and environmental justice. For Women’s History Month, the series focused on environmental justice through feminist lens. In addition to looking at racial and sociodemographic aspects of the food system, a major topic for March was ecofeminism, which is a movement that combines ecological and feminist concerns.

Daniela Canas Baena ’16, assistant director of SCORE, emphasize the particular importance of learning about sustainability at a women’s institution.

“Women are leaders of the movement, so I think it’s important as a women’s college to be passionate about things that affect not only us…but also the most marginalized people in our country and communities,” she says.