Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga talks potential trans admissions policy changes

President Lori Bettison-Varga. Photo courtsey of Scripps College. 

President Lori Bettison-Varga. Photo courtsey of Scripps College. 

On Thursday, Nov. 13, President Lori Bettison-Varga sent out an email to the Scripps College community stating that “the senior team has developed the following recommendations [regarding transgender admissions at Scripps College] to the Board of Trustees for consideration at its December meeting: 

Effective for the class enrolling in Fall 2016, Scripps College will: 

• Consider applicants assigned female at birth and/or who self-identify as a woman at the time of application; 

• Continue the practice of not requiring government issued documentation for gender identity purposes; 

• And continue to award a Scripps degree to any student who completes the baccalaureate requirements, regardless of gender identity or expression.” 

This email came as a result of the Board of Trustee’s indication “that the insights and perspectives provided to them in October have accelerated their readiness to discuss updates to the College admission policy.” 

The Scripps Voice corresponded with President Bettison- Varga to discuss transgender admission at Scripps, the recent recommendations, and the steps moving forward: 

TSV: What were the main influences for discussing transgender admissions at Scripps College? 

LBV: These discussions started last year as part of a broader conversation about how we might nurture a climate of inclusion and build capacity to have dialogue across differences. Last year, with the arrival of Denise Nelson Nash, Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, we began formulating a roadmap as a follow-on to the adoption of the diversity and inclusivity strategic plan that was spearheaded by Dean Amy Marcus-Newhall. As part of the execution of the [I.D.E.A.] Initiative, a series of workshops and trainings were offered for students and staff on breaking down the binary and transallyship. Over the summer, more than fifty per cent of the staff participated in trainings and workshops led by Antoinette Myers ’12 and SCORE professional staff. Concurrently, the trustees formed an ad hoc committee on diversity and inclusion while robust conversations continued on campus. All of these activities heightened awareness of and support for a more inclusive admission policy. 

TSV: What are the steps going forward that would turn this recommendation into policy? 

LBV: The Board will consider the recommendation at its December meeting. 

TSV: What does the timeline for making this decision look like? 

LBV: The Board’s goal is to make a decision by the end of the school year to allow any changes to go into effect in 2016. 

TSV: What has student involvement with this issue looked like in terms of influencing policy-makers at Scripps? 

LBV: Students have been actively engaged in every step of this discussion, and have shown tremendous leadership in raising awareness and understanding while expanding the network of allies across campus and the 5Cs. I’m very proud of our students’ vocal and visible portrayal of the Scripps values of social justice and equity. They’ve not only been an important voice in the dialogue, but they’ve also participated in the governance process in a thoughtful and effective way. Students are fortunate to have such strong, dedicated representatives on SAS, trustee committees, and the president’s ad hoc committee on diversity and inclusivity, among others. 

TSV: What do you encourage students to do to be involved in this hot topic on campus? 

LBV: We are collecting comments on the proposed policy from the community through November 20 at www.insidescrippscollege. edu/admissionspolicy. These comments will be provided to the Board to help inform their decision, so it’s important for students and other stakeholders to take this opportunity