Bryn Mawr vs. Scripps: social and political dogma and other aspects of college life

Hi everyone. This is my first CC post! I’m comparing these two women’s colleges. Both are great academically and in other ways, but even though I am a political liberal who is committed to equality, social justice, and civil rights, I don’t like dogma, either left-wing or right-wing. I also believe in listening to and learning from conservative voices I disagree with. In case you’re wondering, I’m a straight, Asian American female who supported Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton in my very first election, last November.

I realize that at women’s colleges, there will be a high percentage of hard core feminists (which the world needs - I guess I’m one too), and students will be more sensitive to LGBTQ needs and issues. I’m all for that. However, there’s a difference between being FOR something and being angry with or AGAINST everyone who doesn’t meet your narrowly defined criteria. Based on my visit to Scripps, talking to current students (including friends) about being an “ally” and gender-fluid pronouns and “cultural appropriation” blah blah blah, and reading articles such as this one, I’m a little concerned about the white-male-hating atmosphere there. I think some women take things too far and police anyone who disagrees with them. Women can believe what they want, but it’s the policing that annoys me.

For Scripps students, alumnae, parents, and people at other 5Cs who interact regularly with Scripps women, my question is to what extent this affects students in everyday life. Are women going to be all over me for voicing an opinion that contradicts the unofficial survival guide positions? Or am I just hearing about the most extreme, exaggerated cases?

For people familiar with Bryn Mawr, I am wondering if the college has a similar environment and culture, or if it’s not as extreme. I’ll be visiting the campus for the first time during Bryn Mawr in Focus in a couple of weeks.


Also, is the Core Curriculum at Scripps really about critical thinking or brainwashing?

If you are uncertain, the best thing to do is visit…definitely go for Bryn Mawr in Focus!

I have visited Bryn Mawr several times, including an overnight stay, and been to 3 classes. I definitely got an impression of pronouns being part of normal culture, however this seemed inclusive and welcoming. Most bathrooms are labeled “All Gender Bathroom” and my host said that the LGBT flag under the gate is proudly flown from the Pem Gate during a campuswide Pride Week.

I dont think that most students would tolerate homophobia/transiphbia, racism, sexism, ableism, etc very well but obviously its incorrect to say that all students are very liberal or even that tolerance is inherently liberal.

The fact that BMC students can take classes at Haverford, Swarthmore, and UPenn and that those students take classes at Bryn Mawr expands the community a lot!! As a Mawrtyr, you could eat your meals at Haverford or either of the Bryn Mawr dining halls, and Haverboys could dine with you at Bryn Mawr. Again, I am not familiar with schools that Scripps partners with that might be similar to this.

I’m actually going there in the fall as a first year and have paid my deposit. If you have questions feel free to add to this thread or private message me!

@incognitocarbon - Congratulations! That’s great! It must feel good to finally send in that deposit! I’m very indecisive. I’ll probably wait till the last minute. Haverboys - is that what they call them? :slight_smile: I’m happy to hear that BMC is so welcoming and inclusive. I’m looking forward to my trip!

Thanks Orcinus. I found that I was able to ask current students questions and they were totally willing to share an email address or phone number… if you have questions (or think of them after you leave) its a good idea to ask!

Based on those two quotes, I wonder that you applied to Scripps- and whether your pre-conceptions are too strong to get past.

Be careful to separate an emphasis on being ‘mindful’ about language and a ‘white-male-hating atmosphere’: they are not the same thing. I know a lot of college campuses with the one but no evidence of the other. You will find student activist groups at most colleges and universities, though the relative size of the groups will vary considerably.

If you approach Core classes from an ‘am I being brain-washed?’ perspective, then you will be suspicious of everything that is different from the way you have been taught to think so far- which if you are true to the purpose of the course, will de facto require you to think critically :wink:

Fwiw, my SIL (who teaches at Scripps) tells more stories about the preppy kids than the social activist kids (who come across as more earnest than haranguing).

Definitely visit BM before deciding- the 2 schools are more different than you might think,

@collegemom3717 - Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of things about Scripps, which is why I applied and why I’m considering it and going back to visit on admitted students’ day. In fact, that’s exactly why I’m asking these questions. I want to know all the dirty details. Since it’s such a small college of <1000 students, it’s important for me to know how many other students are similar to the group I met while I was there. Maybe they were THE activist bunch with the more negative attitude towards life, so they skewed my perceptions. Not the best bunch to represent a college to a newcomer. I am hoping to meet Scrippsies with a more positive outlook on my next visit. At this point, I am looking for reasons to choose one over the other - any reason - because it is a hard choice for me.

I get your point. I’m okay with the former but worried about the latter, and hoping that the majority of students are about being mindful, not hateful.

Here’s a perspective I found from a Scripps poli sci professor that is challenging my initial thinking:

I’m starting to believe that Scripps is taking on the status quo in a way many others are unwilling to do. That’s inspiring and thought-provoking.

Every college has a philosophy and an orientation, not just women’s colleges. There are many co-ed colleges and universities where you will find a strident atmosphere on one side of the aisle or other. For example, if you hear the directors of Columbia’s Core Curriculum talk about what they are trying to do with the Core and the purpose of it, you will realize that’s a type of indoctrination too. I went to a college that had a required first-year seminar that they felt was really important to the development of young Black women. That’s going to be true wherever you go.

I agree with the above poster in that you do realize that talking about being inclusive about pronoun usage, allyship and cultural appropriation do not make something a white-male-hating atmosphere. And if you want to voice an opinion that contradicts what’s in the survival guide, maybe think about the position that your opinion is coming from and why you’re quick to voice that position.

The other thing that you’ll have to realize is just like students at co-ed colleges, every woman at a women’s college is different. Some will be conservative! Some will be militant. Most will be somewhere in the middle.

For what it’s worth, I believe that the author of that Atlantic article is being deliberately obtuse.

@juillet - Thanks, good advice. The one thing that concerns me is the phenomenon of boycotting/ uninviting/ assaulting speakers with whom the majority disagrees. This isn’t specific to these colleges, of course. We saw what happened in Berkeley and Middlebury recently. At Scripps, they uninvited George Will and when Madeleine Albright spoke at commencement, several faculty members boycotted the ceremony. The speaker series Will was supposed to speak at was all about listening to other viewpoints. Obviously, everyone has a right to protest. And what George Will said about rape was appalling. But for me, college seems like a chance to learn about different, opposing perspectives, even the voices that disgust me. I would rather confront those speakers directly during Q&A and challenge their beliefs, rather than shut them down and suppress freedom of speech. At least, that’s how some of these incidents came across to me. I wasn’t involved, so I don’t know all the facts. I hope students and administrations change their attitude and embrace these events as “teachable moments”, as my mom likes to call them.

@juillet - If you don’t mind my asking, did you go to a women’s college, maybe even a historically Black one? I’m wondering because of what you said about the required first-year seminar. If so, I would be interested to hear about your experience and how it helped you in life. I’m also curious because I noticed that Scripps has a domestic exchange program with Spelman College as an alternative to study abroad. That might be something I’ll explore in the future, if I go to Scripps.

But for me, college seems like a chance to learn about different, opposing perspectives, even the voices that disgust me. I would rather confront those speakers directly during Q&A and challenge their beliefs, rather than shut them down and suppress freedom of speech./quote

But…that’s you. I think that you are arguing against yourself here: in effect you are suggesting that, in certain contained, specific ways, you are willing to hear opinions you don’t agree with- but you don’t want people to disagree in ways you don’t like. In The implication is that your approach is ‘better’ b/c it allows all voices to be heard. The Milo Y phenomenon is an interesting case study on that perspective.

At any rate, I doubt that you will find an academically selective college/university at which you will only find calm, rational, ordered, balanced airing of different opinions. Passions run high in third level institutions- and have for all of time (even the ancient Greeks complained about hot-tempered students). To be fair, the intensity of this sort of high-profile discord has crept up over the last couple of years (in parallel with the intensity of the political discourse). We can all hope it dies down. I think that the Middlebury incident genuinely shocked a lot of people.

What did you think of Bryn Mawr?

The main thing here is that criminal street gangs with a veneer of political leaning threaten political speech (both by invited speakers and peaceful protesters that are likely to show up). Unfortunately, such veneer of political leaning allows them to attract support when they should have none.

If a generic criminal street gang showed up and randomly attacked people in a crowd, everyone would cheer if the police came and arrested as many of them as they can catch. But if the criminal street gang proclaims that its violence is political against a crowd of different political leaning, attempts by the police to arrest them would likely face resistance from others of similar general political leaning.