Community Statement from Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Charlotte Johnson
Posted: November 20, 2015
November 20, 2015
Dear Scripps Community,
As most of you are aware, a photograph taken on Halloween, and depicting students in outfits aptly described as cultural caricature, includes a Scripps student in one of the costumes. While I will not disclose any details regarding a student’s dealings with the college, I will confirm that Scripps has in place a process for addressing such matters, a process that has accountability and education at its core. In the almost two decades that I have worked in higher education, I have come to believe that most students involved use the process as an opportunity for reflection and growth. Nothing about my Scripps experience contradicts this belief.
I have also been educated. Specifically, I have learned that students experience our campuses as fluid. Because race matters, in society and on our campuses, students of color have a unique interconnection across The Claremont Colleges. For this reason, and others, I am in solidarity with students of color at Scripps and their counterparts at CMC. This support extends to the April 9, 2015 “proposed actions “ CMC students presented to college administrators. To be clear, these proposed actions make no mention of my now former colleague, Mary Spellman. Additionally, I would not presume to tell another institution how to proceed. In my role as dean of students, Scripps College represents my primary sphere of influence and focus. Even at Scripps, my advocacy does not guarantee outcomes.
I have also learned that students of color are intent on ensuring we move beyond the status quo toward full inclusion. As an African-American woman, I know first-hand that racism and racist acts persist. As an educator, I know the pretense of colorblindness, the failure to acknowledge that race impacts students’ reality, is experienced by students as institutional violence. We are obligated to rigorously pursue the goal of ensuring students of color do not just survive on our campuses, but rather receive the support they need to thrive. Inclusive excellence requires nothing less.
As Scripps continues its work to make our campus better, beginning in the Spring 2016 term we will provide progress reports each semester on the recommendations presented by students at the October 2, 2015 meeting of the BOT Student Affairs Committee. Those recommendations, as well as the names of the student organizations which made the recommendations, can be found here (PDF).
Scripps College is a special place, founded upon and fueled by the principle of inclusion. I am confident that, as we move forward, we will do so in ways which continue to exemplify the strength of community and generosity of spirit that are so profoundly, Scripps.
Charlotte Johnson Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
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