Dialogue re: “Women’s Colleges Accepting Self-Identified Females”

Letter to the Editor RE: “Women’s Colleges Accepting Self-Identified Females”

We are writing in response to the article “Women’s Colleges Accepting Self-Identified Females” by Sophie Fahey. It’s frustrating to read such an irresponsible discussion of a critical issue in the Scripps community. 

This article included both oppressive language and factual inaccuracies, and while we appreciate the attempt to addressing the push for trans inclusive admissions policies at women’s colleges, all this article provides is a serious miseducation for the Scripps community at a time when Scripps students most need clear information and inclusive language. This miseducation is detrimental to the conversation around trans inclusion at Scripps. 

The article claims that Mount Holyoke and Mills have similar policies when in fact their policies are vastly different and the erasure of these differences limits the discussion of the policy that Scripps and other Women’s colleges can create. The policy released by Mount Holyoke, unlike the one Mills has adopted, accepts applications from trans men and nonbinary individuals, excluding only cisgender men from applying to Mount Holyoke. This difference in policy is critical for Scripps to explore and understand as we question what a trans inclusive policy at Scripps should look like, particularly in light of the fact that we have no official policy, which the article incorrectly claims exists.

Additionally, the article includes exclusive and oppressive language, such as referring to trans women as "Biologically-born men who identify as female or transgender” and countless other misuses of gender and sex, failing to demonstrate respect for how people describe their own genders. The AP style guide, which is widely accepted, is clear that transgender people should be referred to by their gender, not the gender that was assigned to them at birth. Calling a trans woman a “biological man” is unclear, inaccurate, and violent. Scripps students need a better and more nuanced understanding of inclusive language and gender, and we encourage people to explore resources (such as those listed below) or attend a teach in (to be announced soon).

Finally, the article fails to include any comments or opinions from students—all quotes are from the administration. At both Mills and Mount Holyoke the policy changes were a result of student advocacy and pressure; similarly, there are many Scripps students who are shaping the discussion, and have been critically reflecting on Scripps policy and pushing for trans inclusion. Their voices, and the voices of passionate alums, are at the forefront of urging Scripps to adopt a clear trans inclusive policy, and they deserve to be highlighted.

We urge the Scripps Voice to publish this letter online and to issue an apology and clarification to the Scripps community both via email and The Scripps Voice website. It is imperative for The Scripps Voice to respond swiftly; as a Scripps publication it has the power to either normalize oppressive language and ideology or to challenge it. We are excited to continue the conversation about trans inclusive admissions at Scripps College and we want to do so in way that gives this topic the nuanced reflection and discussion it deserves. 


Claire Hirschberg 

Tara Partow 

Eli Erlick

Mia Shackelford 

Danie Diamond

Jasmine Russell

Laura Kent

Eden Amital

Felicia Agrelius 

Keanan Gottlieb 

A few resources:




Letter from the Editors:

Dear Claire, Tara, Eli, Mia, Danie, Jasmine, Laura, Eden, Felicia, and

First of all, thank you for reaching out with your concerns. We
recognize that composing such a response requires much time and thought,
and it is always a good thing to be made aware of where improvements
must be made. We agree that your points are important and should be
heard by the Scripps community; we assure you that they will be.

Going forward, we as Editors-in-Chief will ensure that all articles are
written with more sensitivity to word choice and fact. We’ll ensure that
our writers are aware of the resources at their disposal that will
prevent such inaccuracies to occur- for example, those who are writing
about a topic whose appropriate vocabulary they may be unaware of will
be encouraged to reach out to those who are more learned in that area.
In fact, we are open to consulting with a member of your group when
writing on something about this in the future.

Further, as you may already know, TSV publishes articles covering all
BeHeard Forums; next issue will therefore include coverage of the
discussion surrounding Scripps’ policy on transgender admission. If any
of you, as members of the Scripps student body who are clearly very
well-educated on the topic, would be interested in covering that piece,
you are more than welcome to do so. We also both welcome and encourage
guest articles, and are more than happy to discuss this topic with you
as we move forward. Again, this is because we really do value accurate
journalism and care about the issue under discussion.

Again, thank you for reaching out, and we do deeply apologize for the
flaws that we published. We plan to move forward with the steps outlined
above, and hope that this helps to undo any damage that this piece may
have inadvertently caused.

Lucy Altman-Newell (’17) and Elena Pinsker (’17), Editors-in-Chief

1 in 950: Laura Borruso ‘18

By Melanie Biles '18
Staff Writer
From: San Juan Capistrano, California; Rennes, France; Sicily, Italy
Intended Major: Foreign Languages
What is your favorite subject?
In high school I took a class on marine science. I don’t know if I would ever pursue it, but I found it fascinating. Besides that, I love languages. French and Italian are my favorites.

Laura Borruso '18

Laura Borruso '18

Why did you choose to come to Scripps?
I came here for the atmosphere. Part of the women’s college experience for me is that everyone is here to learn, grow and become a better person. That said, there’s still balance in the social life because of the 5Cs. They also contribute to a feeling of diversity and multicultural interaction which I really appreciate.

Why is that so important to you?
My family is from Italy, I’ve lived much of my life in California and studied abroad in France so I know what it means to be a citizen of the world and to bring different cultures into one life. I wouldn’t be able to go to a school where everyone had the same background, outlook, identity and culture. It would be too boring.
How have you been most surprised by life on campus?
I think the most surprising thing is the independence. I’ve been away from my family before, but there’s never been quite this level of freedom. It’s really nice to be able to lead my own life based on what I want to do.
Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
I’d like to say my entire family. As I said, we’re Italian, which means that we’re always in each others’ lives, interfering in the best way possible. If I had to pick one person, though, I would say my grandpa. He taught me that with honesty you can succeed at anything. If you have to lie or cheat to achieve something in your life it just isn’t worth it. I’ve really kept that with me.
What was the most influential event in your life and why?
When I was a junior in high school I spent nine months living in France on study abroad. It’s a little bit unusual to go that young but it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I learned so much about myself and the world in those nine months. Most importantly, though, France taught me that every person has a story and we can all come together to create a collective story that is so much better than any individual’s.

The first-year experience: a hard-hitting, undercover investigation of year one

By Melanie Biles ‘18
Staff Writer

So here’s what I’ve learned about being a first-year: it’s awkward. Moving into your dorm and negotiating your space? Weird. Sleeping in a room with complete strangers? Uncomfortable. Trying to learn two hundred names in two days? Impossible. Just call everyone you meet Maddie, Sarah, or Ellie, and you’ll have about a 50% chance of getting it right.
Move-in day dawned bright and early as we all stumbled onto campus at 8 a.m. Even by then we were almost too hot to function (little did we know that it was only going to get worse). As everyone awkwardly went up to the roommates they recognized from thorough summer Facebook stalking and introduced themselves, Peer Mentors flitted about handing out keys and welcomes.

After a substantial amount of time getting lost down random hallways I found my way to my dorm room, newly-minted ID card in hand. Over the course of the next hour my three roommates arrived and we each laid claim to a bed and desk, passive-aggressively laying our possessions over the ones we wanted. Our parents, acting as pack mules for the time being, hauled cartons upon cartons up stairs and down hallways before dumping them in the room and going back for the next load. Thus began the adventure of fitting the belongings of four girls into one closet, two shelves, and four dressers. Though this was akin to storing the Atlantic Ocean in a teacup, we somehow managed and almost even made it to the opening speeches on time. (Emphasis on the almost.)

Fun fact: If you’re late to opening speeches they won’t have room for you in Garrison. Instead, you’re herded into an adjacent room where you watch all of the happenings on a huge projection screen with a mild lag so that you hear everyone in the actual Garrison applauding before the onscreen speaker says anything worth applauding. There’s also no applause protocol — do we clap even though they can’t hear us? For how long? Why?

In the time spent here we heard from four speakers about what makes our class just as unique as every other first-year class. It’s true — we have girls hailing from as far as Ethiopia and as close as Claremont, girls who danced and played football and squash. We have leaders of clubs and organizations and yearbooks and teams; first-generation college students and girls whose mothers, aunts, and grandmothers had come to Scripps. We are here to learn from each other, to grow, to change and to leave here better women.

And so it begins.

Are you a feminist? Just say yes.

By Evelyn Gonzalez ‘18
Feminist Columnist

It always interests me to see the different responses I get when I align myself with the term “feminist.” Responses range from “So, what, do you hate men?” to “Oh, I could never call myself a feminist because I believe men and women should be equal.” I think what shocks me the most is how misguided the views of feminism truly are and how these misconceptions make it easy to dismiss its ideas and goals. It is easy to scorn something when you do not understand it, and I think that is the major issue here.

When I first came to Scripps, I was very surprised to find that not only do many women here not identify as feminists, but that they actually feel strongly about distancing themselves from the word.

This uneasiness towards the term, I think, stems from years of misconceptions surrounding the idea of feminism and exactly what it means to be a feminist, which is where it gets a little tricky. In the 90s, Pat Robertson defined the feminist agenda as  “a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” It is understandable that many people would not want to align themselves with an idea that has been so muddled and misinformed as to become misleading. The word, however, has emerged and changed over time and with it, I believe, came a positive shift in society.

Let me make it perfectly clear: you are a feminist if you advocate for women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality and in doing so believe in eradicating the restraints that gender places on everyone — men, women and gender queer. Feminism’s goal is to ensure that a person’s gender does not restrict or discredit any of his or her successes or inhibit his or her capability for prosperity and happiness. While it was once (and sometimes still is) considered a “dirty word,” the term feminist is now being welcomed and embraced.

Where before celebrities carefully tiptoed around the term to avoid its negative connotations, such as when Katy Perry said “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women,” icons like Ellen Page and Beyoncé are now openly identifying themselves as feminists. In doing so, they become activists for the term.

There are many different ways to be a feminist and many different types of feminism. But when you choose not to identify as a feminist, what you are essentially saying is that you are choosing to be willfully ignorant of the issues that currently affect our society. In doing so you tarnish every name that has ever made efforts and sacrifices so that we as people have the rights and freedoms that we do now.

I think it is important that we learn not to dismiss other people’s ideas of feminism (unless it is Robertson’s). Everyone’s struggle is as different as his or her background. We, as a society, have so many different experiences in terms of gender, sexuality, race and socio-economic class that  it is often difficult to understand each other’s viewpoints.

In that respect, we have a long way to go. No movement is perfect. But it is important to remember that feminism has the capability of being an all-encompassing, inclusive term, and that is so important. When you really start to believe in the message of equality and everything that it stands for — you will soon find that you, in fact, have been a feminist all along.

NYC Climate March holds potential for real change

By Isobel Whitcomb ‘17
Current Events Columnist

In general, I have always been skeptical of our generation’s attempts at activism. We seem too worried about stepping on others’ toes to fight for the changes we want. I know times have changed with the advent of social media. Yet social media campaigns such as #Kony2012 seem petty in comparison to the demonstrations of civil disobedience of the 60s and 70s.

At my most discouraged, I fall into the trap of criticizing my own peer group for apathy and laziness. However, this week, when a peer informed me about the People’s Climate March happening in New York City on Sept. 21st, I felt hopeful that I might have misunderstood our generation.

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, an organization committed to global climate change through “online campaigns, grassroot organizing and mass public actions,” first announced plans for the People’s Climate March in May of this year. The event was to take place on the same weekend as a United Nations summit on climate crisis. It was over the summer that the march gained tremendous momentum. According to PeoplesClimate.org, the event is now expected to draw over one thousand businesses, schools, unions, environmental groups and more. Organizers of the event are calling it “the biggest climate march in history,” and estimate that over one hundred thousand people will participate.

After doing my research, I sat down and thought about why this feels like such a momentous event. Thousands of people marching will not lower the temperature of the planet several degrees. It does not  even guarantee a policy change. So why is it that I feel hope and excitement, rather than skepticism? What differentiates this demonstration from countless sincere attempts to “raise awareness” via social media? The only answer I came to was community.

Social Media is a paradox. As much as it connects us to one another, it also isolates us. Even as we post about movements we are joining, campaigns we support and money we are donating, our activism is so tied into the formation of our own identities via the internet that it becomes isolating rather than community-building. And if there is any one element necessary to making momentous change, it is community. A movement against a crisis like climate change cannot afford to be fragmented.

At this point most people realize that in order to fight climate change, serious changes have to be made by everyone. But we still have to prove to ourselves and to the rest of society that as a community we are capable of making these changes. To achieve this goal, social media activism alone is not enough. A major part of showing one’s support for a movement is taking a risk and physically showing up. This is why the People’s Climate March is such a big deal.

What could be better proof of our solidarity and willingness to change than tens of thousands of people all flocking to New York City?

“This is an invitation,” Bill McKibben wrote in his piece titled A Call to Arms, published in Rolling Stone Magazine. “An invitation to come to New York City. An invitation to anyone who’d like to prove to themselves, and to their children, that they give a damn about the biggest crisis our civilization has ever faced.” This invitation succinctly summarizes why The People’s Climate March could make a difference. As a society, we need to prove to ourselves that we give a damn. And next weekend, New York City might do just that.

Ice Bucket Challenge: Con

By Chloë Bazlen ‘18
Staff Writer

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a remarkable example of how social media has spread its influence, creating a new category of philanthropy that would not have been conceivable even five years ago. This new category, jokingly referred to as “#activism,” poses many questions as to the authenticity and effectiveness of the charitable ventures of social media. For as much as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has done to raise awareness and money for the cause, there are a few flaws in the system to be considered.

First, the challenge easily perpetuates “slacktivism,” or actions that feign activism but actually do little to help the cause. The Ice Bucket Challenge has become known as dumping ice on yourself or donating $100 to ALS research. In theory, one is supposed to donate a smaller amount of money to the association even after dumping ice on oneself, but this fact has been lost in the trend. It promotes a “slackers” culture, making the accepter of the challenge look like an activist while not actually doing anything to help the ALS cause.

Another pitfall of the challenge is the fact that people want to be able to post their videos on Facebook. Getting a new notification makes people feel good about themselves — they love the attention and want a visual representation of their good deed for all of their friends to see. Thus emerges this odd reasoning wherein if you fail to dump ice on yourself, you have seemingly failed to support the fight against ALS. In reality, it is the opposite that is true — the videos mean nothing and the money donated is what actually helps. People are encouraged to choose the route that means more ice and fewer donations.

A third flaw in the challenge relates not to social media but to the environment. California is in a drought. It is something that has been heard a thousand times — so why are so many people dumping water coolers and storage containers full of ice and water on their heads, completely wasting the water that is contained? It is true that not every state is in a drought but the conservation of water should be a top priority. The Ice Bucket Challenge is, in effect, helping one cause only to hurt another. And the real kicker? The water is not even necessary in order to actually provide help.

The ALS Association deserves all of the money and support possible, but draining the planet is unnecessary, as is trying to boost the appearance of philanthropy among Facebook friends in order to help those with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Scripps College deals with the drought

Natalie Camrud '17 and Erin Matheson '18 talk with the Scripps College Grounds Department and student leaders about how Scripps is saving water.

Read More

Athlete Spotlight: Bryn McKillop

Bryn McKillop is a Scripps first year and Cross Country Runner, still in the midst of her first few weeks of training with the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Athenas. During her senior year of High School, McKillop ran an impressive 19:10 5k, placing 12th at the Oregon 5A State Meet.

Read More

Motley opens for 2014-2015 school year

By Evelyn Gonzalez ‘18
Feminism Columnist

On Thursday, Sept. 11, The Motley opened its doors to kick off its opening night with a tribute to the past. Festively-colored crepe paper covered the tabletops, confetti lined the floors and banners with pictures of favorite actors from the good-old days hung in the doorways. Consumers were encouraged to come sporting their best “throwback” attire; neck chokers were provided. Many students sat on the plush sofas, drinks in hand, engaged in idle chatter with friends. Meanwhile, others, encouraged by the animated music provided by Angeles Flight — an LA-based band that played at the coffeehouse months before — bobbed their heads to the contagious rhythm.

Students seemed overjoyed to see the return of what they described as the coolest hangout spot on campus. Haley Godtfredsen ‘16 said she “spen[ds] all her time between classes” there and finds it to be “a great study environment,” while others like Monika Lee ‘17 choose to “come [there] for the variety of drinks.” The consensus seemed to be that the atmosphere at the Motley is relaxing and inviting, regardless if you want to grab a drink or sit and work for a while.

Possibly even more excited than the students were the Motley’s managers and baristas. This year the barista team consists half of new hires — some of which are first years — meaning that most of the people working there are new to their positions this year. Becca Shope ‘16, Facilities and Flozec manager, said that she is “really grateful to be a part of a community of women that are incredible workers and that blow me away everyday with the fact that they can run this business.”

On that note, many Scripps students are excited to see what this season is going to bring for the Motley. Here’s to another year of delicious drinks and amazing, inspiring female-led student entrepreneurship on Scripps campus.

Math Spot opens for 2014-2015 school year

Scripps’ walk-in tutoring center for math students, Math Spot, opened on Sunday, Sep. 14. Math Spot is an appointment-free, student-led tutoring program offering help to math students every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.
Help is available for students in the following classes: Math 23, 30, 31, 32, 60, 101, 131-135, 102 and 111. Math Spot is held at the Career Planning & Resources Library in Seal Court. Questions can be directed to .