Scripps Students Protest 2016 Photo / The Student Life

Don’t Expect Nothing in Return From Scripps College: They Just Want Your Money

I just threw away at least the 5,000th expensive, elaborately-folded, Scripps College fundraising brochure I’ve received since I graduated from the college in 1983.

By the way: I never write ungrammatically without reason.

I told Bruce, “When I die, do not give them a penny. If we ever get any more money, don’t let me weaken. Not one cent.”

Some people might think I would have turned my back on my alma mater because of the obviously disturbed “culture” on campus by which students invest precious hours and enthusiasm they should spend learning protesting Trump “chalkings” or joining with Claremont McKenna students to drive Manhattan Institute fellow Heather MacDonald off campus.

No, it’s because I went through nearly four years of college there as a full scholarship student (1979 — 1983) and the only thing that seems to have changed in the three intervening decades is that the price is 6 times higher, and the great professors who made up for what happened to me have retired or passed away. They don’t seem to have been replaced by many instructors of similar capability and dedication. The Administration? If judged on ability to perform their jobs: it was bad then, and now seems considerably worse.

So, I am writing this because even though I know Heather MacDonald is an insufferable self-entitled bluenose, I was going to write about the student protests against her and the lame Claremont responses. She should have been allowed to speak. It’s called the First Amendment and if you don’t like what someone says: don’t listen to them. More important: present a coherent, opposing perspective. Don’t insult yourself and others by yelling meaningless slogans. In the case of MacDonald, why not try what I do: research and write about facts regarding systemic racism that kills and imprisons. Write about facts regarding the impossibility of achieving MacDonald’s social status unless you are, like her, born to be her.

But a couple of minutes of research showed me a much more serious issue, one I didn’t hear about in any fundraising letter or featured in City Journal. Scripps’ Resident Advisers are on strike. And unlike the MacDonald protests this strike is for highly-justified reasons.

A Scripps RA, a young woman only 20 years of age, took her own life in March. Tatissa Zunguze was her name. She was a student anyone would have been proud to call friend, and her achievements were incredible. The lack of administration’s appropriate response highlighted the poor work conditions and poor academic provision the RAs and the rest of the students face, leading to the strike.

I might not care about the College administration, endowment or anybody who says they’re in charge there, but I care very much about the students. This is an unconscionable tragedy and my thoughts, prayers, and love are with her family, close friends and all of the students, especially her fellow RAs who are now on strike.

As they should be.

Or rather — shouldn’t.

Tatissa’s life was worth something. It was worth a whole lot more than the pathetic non-responses by Scripps administration documented in the RA letter. These students are not protesting over a one-time speech by a distasteful or even “racist/hateful” speaker.

They are speaking to the core of why no graduate of Scripps College should support the school right now if they have any type of conscience or capability for self-reflection.

Scripps College has had more than 30 years to fix its inability to educate students decently in an environment of dignity, safety, responsibility and respect. Instead, they not only have not improved: they’ve gotten worse. The school is daily proof that money doesn’t buy integrity, decency or a good education for all students.


When I was Alumna in Residence on campus in 2013, I noticed a few problems. The students were incredible: most of the faculty were absent. The Deans of Students and Faculty at Pomona College met with me and organized sessions with Pomona College students (who were also fantastic); neither the Dean of Students at Scripps, nor any other Dean or Administrator ever acknowledged my presence. I was allotted a brief meeting with the college President at the time, Lori Bettison-Varga. I chose to take the brief visit to inform her of the concern I had — that there was no academic coordination of any type with my presence except for one faculty member who had worked professionally and appropriately with me. As a current faculty member at a school considered to be “poor” and “downgrade” compared to high-priced, prestigious Scripps, I was a little embarrassed to note the oversight and point out it was of concern.

And I chose to phrase the glaring problem highlighted in my college experience with Ms. Bettison-Varga in this manner.

“I was a full four-year scholarship student. By the end of my senior year I was working full-time and taking a double load of classes to receive my degrees. I was not only sexually predated upon by a Scripps faculty member, I was raped by a Pomona College professor.”

Some students take a “gap year.” In my case, it was a “gap decade.”

I so mistrusted the college environment after that, I thought just about anything would be better than returning to the “Academy” and getting raped again or worse.

Why did I tell Lori this after so many years? It’s not like I made a big deal about it or told anyone outside of my personal life over the years. And, I might have been able to parlay it into a New York Magazine article like Naomi Wolf!

If only it had been a heavy, boneless hand on my thigh …

No — I had kept my mouth shut for years because I wanted to recover my own life. I was inspired to speak up because I had met with and read the current student magazine editors and staff. To my astonishment, in 2013, one whole issue of the online magazine was about rape experiences. Not academic concepts of “rape culture” but actual experiences, fears and stories of rape or sexual harassment. It not only could have been written back in 1983, if the date had been changed and it was printed on paper, I would have thought it had been written during my time. It seemed that nothing had changed.

I chose to phrase it this way to Bettison-Varga and she appeared to understand:

“The school invested a lot of money in me, Lori. Even then, the tuition and fees were over $11,000 a year. But it seemed willing to throw it all away for the momentary sexual and violent pleasure of a predatory man.”

Isn’t that a waste? I asked. Oh yes, a terrible waste.


Current students: I have an acquaintance with the Dean, Charlotte Johnson, whose resignation you have demanded. The actions you describe that she took, or failed to take, following Tatissa’s death, are so very familiar to me.

See, I was raped on a Sunday morning 11 days after my 21st birthday in 1983. I thought he was going to kill me, but instead, he let me go. I did go to the hospital, and I went to the Claremont police, and I talked to the Dean at Pomona College.

That guy believed me. Because it had happened before.

Then I talked to our Scripps College Dean of Students, Daryl Smith. I wasn’t as accomplished as Tatissa, but I wasn’t bad, either. I had a few forms of recognition to my name, and I had served on the College Council and was editor and publisher of the 5-College newspaper. I had also gotten a great internship at the Los Angeles Times. I am only saying this — don’t you remember your classes that the “victim” shouldn’t have to justify themselves? — the costlier the school, the more students who are poor, lack family support, or are of diverse ethnicities or gender orientation must justify themselves — it’s true.

Guess what that nice lady said to me when I told her what had happened? [plenty of marks, too — cops took a lot of photos and I can show you the bite marks and cigarette burns].

“Write it down with the date and put it in a safety deposit box.”

It wasn’t that she didn’t believe me. Not only did she not care, she wanted me out of her office as quickly as possible. I read quite a few similar statements in your letter, RAs. The statements and behavior of Charlotte Johnson sounded familiar. Pomona College’s Dean knew he had a named chair of Literature who was also a serial rapist and sexual predator on his campus and he knew it was wrong. The ordinary city cops knew this guy was what he was, too. Scripps Dean? Didn’t give a rat’s ass.

I don’t remember if Daryl Smith went on vacation shortly thereafter, but it was the third week in March so I bet she went on spring break.

You know what, you nasty bitch?

I recovered. And I’ve had a pretty good writing career. And despite all the crap that’s happened to me of which the rape was just ONE THING just like everybody else from a similar background to me — I’ve had a great life. My experience was good enough for your shit ass snob factory to invite me back (after rejecting me for a political consultant that apparently bombed big-time) to campus and ask me to be a recent Graduate Trustee and invite me to your “muggings” and so-on and of course: quarterly massive printed mailings and solicitations for funds.

Oh: and yeah I interviewed for that job where you got that big $multi-million grant that went unspent for over 3 years for “Women’s Leadership.” LASPA? Yeah that was it.

For this interview which I mistakenly, moronically, cared about, I made a book highlighting all the things that not only I, but my mother — who came from a poor family and wanted to attend Scripps, but couldn’t — had experienced and done. She invented Mr. Magoo.

The book had my symbol, the Chameleon, on the cover.

One of your fine trustees, a lady who did not attend the college but who is rich enough to be on the Board, passed the book along to her neighbor during this interview.

Her comment was,

What is that? A worm?

That’s not a micro-aggression.

You, dear alma mater, are very lucky you do not have labor and hiring discrimination lawsuits from more than one of your distinguished alumna over this nasty ass total debacle that humiliated your paid SEARCH FIRM STAFF and APPLICANTS ALIKE not once, but repeatedly. WTF would you have done if you hadn’t had the search firm? Make candidates dance naked in the Margaret Fowler Garden?

If you’re an angry Administrator reading this: first, fuck you, your complacency is a great deal of the problem that led to this young woman’s death and your most-valued student leaders, the RAs, on strike and writing about how grossly incompetent, uncaring and generally messed-up you are and second I do get that you are that way because the fish rots from the head. I get you are not treated well either and few people would want a job at a place that treats everyone so horribly — a tissue-thin veneer of a palatial estate covering up a plantation of fee-paying money machines disguised as “students.”

You are still incompetent, uncaring, unprofessional pieces of crap.

Few of the people I care about who were at Scripps are with us any longer. I kept my tongue because of them. Because of all the good that has been there and could still be. But it will be a hell of a lot of hard work and that is something people like that trustee, like Daryl Smith, like this Charlotte Johnson, do not understand and people like me do ever damn day of our lives.

I’ve been up since 5:30 working and I am doing this in my “spare time” and breaks.

This mess is what happens when rich, selfish, self-entitled people spend their whole lives sucking off other people and doing what they feel like day in and day out.

YOU KILLED HER AND YOU ARE CHEATING AND ROBBING THE REST OF THE STUDENTS WHETHER YOU KNOW IT OR NOT FOR YOUR GODDAMN MONEY AND EASY LIVES.

I know how you’ve been treated, RAs, because absolutely nothing has changed since 1983. It’s just gotten worse. There used to be the very best professors on that campus who counteracted the Administration’s bland, greedy disregard.

Solidarity: this is what that means RAs. Solidarity means your daily lives. Your future and ability to learn and grow and live with dignity and respect in a decent, safe environment. It is so bad that Tatissa died. There’s no excuse for what your letter documents the Dean did and yes, certainly in a functional college environment, that type of judgement would be cause for not damn well being hired or put into the position in the first place. Someone who acts like that didn’t just get that way overnight and the historical evidence and performance is this is the type of person the college hires for all the wrong reasons: not the best. People who oppress others want incompetent employees who won’t question orders and who’ll keep the money flowing.

How much other damage has been done?

30 damn years worth. One of the most expensive degrees in America and what is the value delivered?

As far as I’m concerned until these students are treated with respect which includes a strong curriculum and education first and foremost — i.e. a Dean who might find some academic merit and 15–20 minutes worth of time to coordinate with a WEEK LONG ACADEMIC VISIT PREPARED BY AN ALUMNA, and a decent living environment and working conditions as in “You can afford to pay them decently and should not have students making the types of academic, pay and work conditions described in their letter while you dun the rest of us constantly for cash” — the school should get nothing from nobody and this includes tuition payments.

Just a bunch of bluenose snobs who wouldn’t know reality or decency if it flew up and hit them in the face. The kind of people who’d let a stone cold rapist rape and molest dozens of young women for years and cover up for it for decades. And give him awards and shit. The kind of people who’d look the other way while any number of sexual predators drew down high salaries and devastated countless of their high-tuition-paying students’ lives by using them sexually because they were too cheap to pay prostitutes.

Oh yeah: the same people that would invite Madeleine Albright to speak at Commencement right after she announced, cackling, that young women would “burn in Hell” if they didn’t vote for her good buddy. She is a war criminal and a shame to our nation. This must be questioned and her thought process and behavior must be stopped. Most Americans are unaware of how many lives are lost because as badly as Scripps has treated vulnerable students or anyone lacking the endowment power to force its rich snobs to pay attention over the years: our nation treats other nations, including women, men and children, a thousand, million times worse every day with no signs of stopping. To this day, we break every word ever made to Native Americans and poison the environment. And little white boy I saw in a photo?

Don’t wear a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt if you don’t do business with, respect, talk to and interact with black people on a daily basis and understand how WRONG IT IS that this S**T is on TV constantly and no one ever lifts a finger to STOP IT. That’s the flip side of MacDonald’s talk you dumbass. Yes, she is a “racist white snob” — but she’s at least trying to address part of the inhumane mess we live in. You? You’re some rich moron in a t-shirt advertising something you know nothing about that’s already become Rainbow Doritos and Wells Fargo Black Lives Matter. Wells Fargo took our homes. Black and white alike. They do not sponsor DeRay McKesson because they want to save a black man or woman’s life who has been pulled over and is at risk of being shot to death. They are the same skanky, scummy, amoral liars as all the rest so quit wearing their corporate ad t-shirt and protesting “for them.”

DO NOT GO BACK TO WORK UNTIL THEY MEET EVERY DEMAND RAs.

I have your back in public. I will not allow you to be dragged in the public square for asking for human common decency at one of America’s priciest private schools.

And no, parents: it’s not worth it.

PS: if you have not been a crime victim or poor, but you think students do something worthwhile when protesting speeches by conservatives like Heather MacDonald, here’s a tip: the human ticks who get fat off your very life’s blood want you to do that. Heather has some moral basis for her writings and is a female urban planning scholar, like her or not. She points out the way you allow no opportunity for people of color, poor people, disabled people, people of differing gender identity, and any other person who is not part of their .00001%. Every minute you spend protesting is another minute they collect interest off everyone’s life work. You’re not saving a single black person’s life by doing this and you might even be costing some because they WANT EVERYONE TO HATE THE FUCK OUT OF EACH OTHER while they pick your pocket and make book off bombing the hell out of Yemen and the other seven countries students cannot identify on a map. You know how Muhammad Ali did not want to fight in the rich man’s war? That. They want you to call someone you might have otherwise worked with or cooperated with a “racist” or a “Nazi” or a “Trump supporter” or get all upset about gun control and scream at a gun owner because while you are occupied in that manner, they have six more pipelines through Native Americans’ land: land they have already stolen, polluted and destroyed. If you cannot hold your tongue or shut the fuck up for five minutes to listen to someone else then you are ONE OF THEM or worse: you want to and … do you like this? How does it feel: You are their slave and you will never be one of them because you are “just not good enough.”

FUCK YOU. And with all the violence done to me you should damn well bet with my last strength I will fight you.

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