This past week, Scripps College announced proposed changes to their admissions policies, specifically regarding transgender students. The Scripps proposal will be considered by the College’s Board of Trustees in December.
Earlier this semester, over 580 Scripps students—more than half of the approximately 1,000-person student body—signed a petition in support of a transgender-inclusive admission policy. The student petition supported a policy which stated:
“The following students can apply for admission consideration regardless of factors including, but not limited to, legal status, medical history, gender pronouns used throughout academic recommendations and documents:
The following students cannot apply for admission consideration:
For those unfamiliar with this language, here is a brief explanation of these terms:
For more detailed explanations, see GLAAD’s media reference guide for transgender issues or TSER’s terminology definitions.
The College’s recommendation to its Board of Trustees differed from the policy that Scripps students proposed. The administration’s proposal covered students “assigned female at birth and/or who self-identify as a woman at the time of application,” which does not include students assigned male at birth who identify as non-binary or genderqueer, though welcomes female-assigned non-binary people. The student proposal would have considered any non-binary identified students, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.
Scripps is not the only women’s college reexamining its admissions policies regarding different gender identities. Mills College in Oakland, California and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts both began accepting transgender students this fall, though their specific policies differ in a few crucial ways.
Similar to the current Scripps recommendation, the Mills policy considers “self-identified women and people assigned female at birth who do not fit into the gender binary,” which excludes trans men and male-assigned non-binary students from applying. The policy at Mount Holyoke, meanwhile, is more expansive than Mills’ policy or Scripps’ recommendation. Like the Scripps student petition proposed, Mount Holyoke welcomes students of all gender identities except for cisgender men. At all three schools, trans men who did not identify as such upon applying but transitioned after matriculating are welcome to stay and complete their education.
Adriana di Bartolo, the Director of the Queer Resource Center (QRC) for the Claremont Colleges, explained her role in the process in an interview with The Forum, saying, “I first did a training for the Student Affairs Committee of [Scripps’] Board of Trustees, and that was a really great moment. I think there were some folks who had different ideas of language, how to talk about trans issues, really almost how to talk about issues around gender, and the group includes administrators at Scripps, Board members, faculty, and students, and I think the overall feeling, and my feeling running this, is I felt hearts shift in the room.” The Scripps Board received the same QRC training undergone by RAs at both Claremont McKenna and Scripps.
Di Bartolo is enthusiastic about the prospects for the administration’s recommendation. As for the differences between the student and administrative recommendations for the Board, di Bartolo understood why some students were dissatisfied with the final version. However, she explained, “you need to think about the Board, and their experience at Scripps, and what will actually pass. And if this thing will pass—and it’s only the beginning, it’s not forever—this is an amazing first step.” In the future, the policy can be broadened to include male-assigned non-binary students, because “Our student bodies are changing; we have to change our policies to meet our student bodies.”
Di Bartolo noted that “we have to remember” that the administrators at Scripps “have to have their finger on the pulse of the Board and know what’s going to pass, keeping in mind how they want to move forward.” She also commended the Scripps administration for its ability to get this recommendation through on the timeline that they did; “they’re moving forward in a way that’s much quicker than we all thought—folks are on board and they’re ready for it.” While many students are still pushing for the broader and clearer proposal from their petition, di Bartolo emphasized that “this might take a little bit longer to have it really, fully inclusive the way folks want it, but this might be what’s going to pass right now.”
Di Bartolo also commented on the way the policy impacts the definition of Scripps as a women’s college. “I think that women’s colleges were founded as a space that folks could go and learn and grow and engage in academic risks, in a space where they’re not going to experience gender discrimination. If that’s the goal of a women’s college,” she said, “then how wonderful to be able to go there and not experience gender discrimination, and be able to learn and grow and take educational risks. So I think it comes down to, what is the academic mission?” Di Bartolo explained that what it will mean to keep the school’s mission in mind is “to keep that momentum going, and I think if we’re so concerned with what people’s sex assignment is—I mean, come on, folks. Let’s get it together.”
The Forum was able to discuss the broadening of Mills’ admissions policy with Brian O’Rourke, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Mills College. In an email to The Forum, O’Rourke wrote that “As a women’s college, Mills has a long tradition of challenging gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles,” and “We also felt it was important to reaffirm our identity as a women’s college as part of this policy.” He added that “there was certainly some concern on the part of students, alumnae, and the others in the campus community that development of this policy would be seen as the first step in consideration of becoming a coed institution and we wanted to make certain to be clear that this was not the case.”
O’Rourke also addressed the process of updating the policy and the different factors that impacted their final product. “In terms of how we came to the decision of who would be included as eligible for admission,” he wrote, “it was a combination of examining the practice we currently had in place, our mission as an institution, and Title IX considerations.” Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments mandates that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The Mills policy also concretely affirmed something that had already been informally practiced at the College, which is that trans men who transition during their time at Mills—including, for example, Mills’ current student body president Skylar Crownover, Mills ’16, a trans man—are still welcome members of the school’s community after transitioning. In an October 2014 interview with OaklandNorth, Crownover explained, “The more I am able to socially live my life as male-identified, the more I grapple with whether I should stay at Mills,” he said. “But I think that the policy and the way that it is written, has been really influential. It makes it clear that I am welcome to stay and finish.”
Morgan Flanagan-Folcarelli, a sophomore at Mount Holyoke, was excited about her school’s changes. “One of the things I find most beautiful about a women’s college is that it provides a safe and empowering space for people who are disadvantaged in a patriarchal society. That’s the fundamental point: women’s colleges were created to support and educate a minority group whose rights and status in society were limited,” she explained.
“Mount Holyoke’s recent decision to implement a trans-inclusive admissions policy was based on an understanding—advocated for by both current students and trans* activists outside of the community—that gender minorities as a whole are disadvantaged when it comes to receiving the type of education and support that women’s colleges were originally formed to provide,” Flanagan-Folcarelli continued. “The admission of trans* and genderqueer students is therefore merely an extension of the original aim of a women’s college, and not a deviation from it.”
Lynn Pasquerella, the President of Mount Holyoke College, added in an email to The Forum that in the development of the policy, “we considered what it means to be a women’s college in the context of a commitment to diversity and inclusion that challenges gender binaries,” with the understanding that “categorization as a woman is not independent of political and social ideologies.” To that end, President Pasquerella explained the importance of acknowledging that “gender identity is not reducible to the body” when considering admissions policies and defining who can and cannot apply to a women’s college.
“From our perspective,” at Mount Holyoke, she continued, “it is the positionality that biological women, transwomen, and male-assigned students with nonbinary identities share that is relevant when women’s colleges open their gates for those aspiring to live, learn, and thrive within a community of women.”
Finally, President Pasquerella noted that “While we remain committed to our mission as a women’s college, we could not simultaneously contest notions of a gender binary while forcing people who identify as neither to adhere to that binary.”
Flanagan-Folcarelli also commented on the fact that Mount Holyoke’s policy is unique from others, in that “along with its inclusion of transwomen it also explicitly states an understanding that those assigned female at birth who do not identify as female, as well as those assigned male at birth who identify as anything other than male, also face many obstacles similar to and unique from those of ciswomen,” which is why a women’s college, in the school’s view, is an appropriate community for them to join. “What makes Mount Holyoke’s policy great is that it is not a ‘women-only’ policy that has come to accept the womanhood of transwomen, but a positionality policy that has come to accept the common struggles of gender minorities, and the importance of a community that uplifts us all.”
In regards to the Scripps policy changes, Flanagan-Folcarelli noted, “I think the proposed policy at Scripps is certainly a strong step in the right direction, but it, like the Mills College policy, fails to come to the same explicit understanding of a commonality of discrimination, oppression, and disadvantage among minority gender groups.” She added, “Women’s colleges can be safe and empowering spaces for so many different people—I think it’s a shame that many are still reluctant to acknowledge and embrace their full potential by broadening their standards of inclusivity.”
Eden Amital SC ’17, a sophomore at Scripps who was involved in drafting the language of the student position that was circulated this semester, was both supportive and critical of the Scripps proposal. “The senior team’s recommended policy is fairly inclusive—it will, if passed in December, open admission up to cisgender women, transgender women, transgender men, and female assigned at birth non-binary folks,” she wrote to The Forum. In this respect, the Scripps recommendation partially satisfies Scripps students’ requests.
“I see two major problems with [the recommendation],” Amital continued, “the first being its vague and confusing language and the second being that it would not consider male assigned at birth non-binary folks eligible applicants. The student-written policy that we got over 580 Scripps students to sign in support of would open admission up to male assigned at birth non-binary folks, and is written using clear and specific language.”
Furthermore, Amital felt that certain attitudes towards the language in question had an impact the administration’s decision. “Why is the Scripps administration afraid to include the word ‘transgender’ in its policy?” she asked. “The Scripps that I want to be a part of celebrates and centers its trans students instead of hiding them.”
A student at Scripps who preferred to remain anonymous conjectured that the increased pressure on the Scripps administration and the Board of Trustees to make policy changes played a role in differences in student and administrative recommendations. Given the relative newness of much of the language regarding transgender identities, particularly lesser-known terms like “non-binary” and “genderqueer,” the student speculated that the Trustees may be more hesitant to accept a policy that allows male-assigned individuals who identify as “non-binary” to be included in the policy due to a lack of understanding of non-binary gender identities. The student emphasized the importance of the Trustees being educated on these issues and understanding the nuances of any policy they must consider.
Adriana di Bartolo expressed a similar position in our interview. “Folks are just barely getting to understand what it means to be transgender,” she told us, “and I think this non-binary piece is just not even in some people’s realms of imagination or thought, because to them, at least trans folks still stay within the binary. But I think the conversation is there,” she added, and that conversation can push the College forward in the future, just as the dial has moved in recent decades to get us to where we are today. “I mean, being a lesbian was scary in the 1980s here,” she noted. Despite the different levels of understanding about gender identity issues among the parties involved in Scripps’ proposal, di Bartolo said that “it’s been really amazing to see different generations of folks come together to talk about a really sensitive topic.”
When asked about the proposed changes at Scripps, Mount Holyoke’s President Pasquarella explained, “Each institution needs to articulate a policy that is consistent with their mission and values. I applaud the deep and abiding commitment to shared governance demonstrated by the Scripps administration in arriving at the proposed policy, as well as their leadership in fostering diversity and inclusion in championing women’s education.”
Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga was traveling and could not be reached for comment.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Adriana di Bartolo’s last name was incorrectly referenced as “Bartolo” rather than “di Bartolo.”]]>
Attendees will each be given a $25 voucher, provided personally by Professor Schroeder, to vote for one of the three charities. Featured organizations include: Project Healthy Children, which advances micronutrient supplementation strategies; The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, a group that focuses on deworming, and Evidence Action, which seeks to purify water through chlorination.
When asked what prompted him to hold the event, Professor Schroeder cited his involvement with organizations that utilize “effective altruism,” a philosophical and social movement that focuses on finding the most cost effective ways to achieve the greatest impact, as the inspiration for the event. Through this interest, he found that “world health literature often shows that really well-run charities can differ in impact by factors of more than a thousand – this means that a dollar given to one well-run charity can do more than a thousand times as much good as another dollar given to another well-run charity.”
These findings show that impact does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with the amount donated to a given cause. Professor Schroeder echoed this sentiment, noting, “many times when we think about giving money to a charity or doing charitable acts, we think about it in terms of how much we’re giving up rather than the impact of our money.”
He adds that, “charity isn’t about how much is being given away, it’s about helping people so it seems more sensible to focus on how much good you’re doing not how much you’re sacrificing.”
In applying this information to his class, Schroeder thought that it would be “very beneficial for students to do an exercise like this and to personally figure out how much more effective some interventions are than others.” The students presenting will be drawing on these ideas, using metrics and ethics of health organizations to try and prove why their respective organizations are the most effective.
Although this is the first time that the event will be featured at the Athenaeum, Schroeder had students complete the same project two years ago when he first taught the class, although he had students present in front of his family and friends. He called the previous outcome “quite successful,” and has great expectations for today’s event.
Tess Hubbeling ’15 is one of the students speaking on Friday. She hopes that audience members will come away with “a sense of the magnitude of the problems we will discuss, and an appropriate sense of awe and worry about the issues.”
She adds that, “all of the problems that we’ll discuss in the presentation are faced by billions of people, but we are sheltered from them and thus it is easy to be unaware of their severity,” and hopes that, “people come away understanding how much they can do with just $25. That’s an amount that any one of us regularly spends on concert tickets or a new shirt or what have you, and even that small amount can make a huge difference when employed in the right places.”
So, whether you are interested in public health or not, stop by the Athenaeum Friday afternoon to help support three critical health causes, listen to engaging and impacting presentations, and to enjoy tea and refreshments. As mentioned above, every audience member will be given a voucher. All you have to do to make an impact is show up. See the Facebook event here.]]>
I am a white male, born to two white, upper-middle class parents, and raised in a predominantly white, affluent suburb. These adjectives do not define me, but they did shape the reality I lived in for the first 18 years of my life. I was never harassed, threatened, thought less of or in any way prejudiced against because of my skin color, gender, or how I dressed, because of merely how I appeared on the surface. In addition to never experiencing these biases myself, I was completely unaware of how they affected those who do identify with marginalized groups.
I attended Central Catholic High School, a private school in Portland, Oregon, a region I had always thought wasn’t very prejudicial about these demographic divides. Then one day, a close friend of mine (who is black) reluctantly admitted that when he left the house at night, he made sure to wear Central Catholic gear as to “prove” to any police he might encounter that he wasn’t up to something sketchy (our school more or less has a “good” reputation). The first time he said this, I laughed. I simply had no idea, and had never even given thought to how these stereotypes actually affected people. But for him, this was reality: before leaving his own home, he had to think about possible encounters with police and how he would assure them that he had nothing to do with some non-existent crime. And yet we claim that our criminal justice system presumes innocence before guilt.
I wasn’t alone in being unaware of what it meant to have certain “privileges” that others did not. I put this in quotes because, to the privileged, these things never seemed like privileges. To many of us, these were just basic rights. They weren’t even acknowledged as rights. They were concepts so basic that no one ever taught us about them—not in school, not in church, not by our peers, not even by our parents. Sure, we may have done a brief unit on the Civil Rights Movement at one point. However, it was taught as a history course—it was an era from our past, and we were made to think that the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 dealt some coup de grâce to the atrocious racism that has infected our country since its founding more than 200 years ago.
But this is the present. And these seemingly basic, unalienable rights of human equality are currently being denied to far too many people in America, and it’s disheartening.
With the extensive publicity this summer of the police shootings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and the ensuing unrest in that community, it’s become difficult to ignore this issue. While these cases in particular have received much attention, they only scratch the surface of a nationwide, systemic problem of racial and socioeconomic injustice. It’s not just Michael Brown and Kajieme Powell whose lives have been taken, but those of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and many others. Further, there are countless citizens who lie in the middle of the spectrum, somewhere between “treated as an equal” and “shot and killed by police while unarmed.” In this country, we have prejudices so deep-seated that, not only have they gotten a person killed over a couple of sodas, but they’ve managed to prevent social mobility for entire classes of people. This epidemic isn’t just seen in the cases of Brown and Powell. But these events have served as a harsh (but gravely needed) wake up call.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a debate about whether or not Brown had his hands up or whether Powell was raising a knife. Likewise, it’s not about whether Officer Darren Wilson was justified in his right to defend himself, or whether the officers who shot Powell were following protocol, or even whether they themselves were racially profiling. These killings are just two recent manifestations of the problem. To nitpick about these facts is to distract ourselves from the larger issues, ones that won’t just go away if and when any of these officers are held formally or criminally accountable.
I’m not a community leader in Ferguson, not an established civil rights activist, not a professional journalist, not even an anthropology, sociology, psychology, or any other major that might have offered me some scholarly insights into some solution to this issue. But I do have one attribute that qualifies me to talk, and qualifies everyone to listen. In fact, we all have the same fundamental attribute that lies at the core of the solution: being a human being.
On the last day of my summer internship, our company had scheduled several hours during the first half of the day for “cultural sensitivity” training. They had found a woman who consults businesses on how to build inclusive workplaces, and we were all required to attend the four-hour session. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical. At first glance, this seemed like it would be one of those “don’t say stupid shit, be nice to people, and let’s all get along” type of deals. I thought to myself, check, I think I do a decent job with that. But embedded in those four hours was an idea so powerful and so elegantly simple that it truly changed the way I view other people.
Paraphrasing what she was teaching us about, I’ll call it the “iceberg analogy.” Briefly put, the concept is that people are much like icebergs: very little of who we are is visible from the surface—so much remains concealed until we look deeper. We had just finished an exercise where we were asked to reflect on the many “adjectives” that define us, the myriad dimensions that make up who we are. There’s race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, education, geographical identity, socioeconomic status, marital status, and parental status, among countless others. The point is that nobody is defined merely by one adjective—nobody is one-dimensional. Then, she had us recall a time where we had made a snap judgment about somebody else based only on what we could visibly observe. Everybody in the room, myself included, was able to come up with an example pretty quickly. This just went to illustrate how naturally and (often) how subconsciously we complete a sentence about someone without ever bothering to look beyond just what we see.
I’m sure that at some point in our social evolution, this mental shortcut was helpful for discerning friend from foe, an ally versus an unknown and potential threat. But we don’t need to do that anymore, or at least not in the same way: we have legal rules, moral codes, and social norms that help us handle uncertainty better—that is, with rationality and trust, not rashness and fear. The takeaway from the iceberg analogy is that if we make the effort to look beyond someone’s appearance, we find so much more. Hidden beneath their skin color or the clothes they wear are all of those dimensions, and while we’re bound to find differences, we’re also likely to find similarities. Even if you don’t find any overlap (though I’m putting the challenge out, let me know if you find someone who you are 100%, completely different than), you’ll always have your humanity in common. And that is a quality we should recognize and value EQUALLY in everyone.
Regardless of what adjectives you identify with, you deserve to be valued equally as a human being. The “golden rule” says to treat others as you wish to be treated, not only others that look, think, and act like you. However you choose to interpret a maxim like this, it all starts with empathy. If we all take the time to be more empathetic towards one another, to look past what’s on the surface, we will start to see the complexity of humanity that exists within every person, and we can begin to dissolve the prejudices that we currently hold.
However, what Ferguson shows us is just how short we are currently falling in the empathy department. And, sadly, for those born into disadvantaged “surface” categories (in this case, being black or poor), the inability of many Americans born into the advantaged ones to look past those shallow dimensions has resulted in unimaginable and wide-reaching oppression. As someone born into the advantaged group in almost every sense, I truly can’t imagine the degree to which this is felt. But I don’t need a certain skin color to show compassion to another human being. I don’t need to be an expert to recognize suffering, or to want it to end.
Yet, we often don’t even see this suffering. I’m sure many Claremont students followed the news closely this summer, and even for those who didn’t, our Facebook feeds probably ensured that we saw more than a few posts trying to tell us about the mayhem in Ferguson. But seeing and hearing secondhand digital accounts can only expose us to so much.
For four years (and for many of us, the 18 years prior), we sit naively within our bubble of academia, nestled in the pleasant little enclave of Claremont, surrounded by green grass and trees and quaint shops. As students, we typically encounter police (no, I don’t mean our pseudo-pacifist Campus Safety) when they come to break up the rare drunken brawl. This may seem a generous characterization of our city, and of course we have our share of issues, but in this case, it is all relative: when was the last time we had to square off with an assault rifle-laden SWAT team? And if a response is to claim that the citizens of Ferguson’s protests “turned violent,” when was the last time we had to literally put ourselves in harm’s way—let alone harm from our own police force—to protest an injustice?
Inside our bubble, our response to this injustice often looks very different. We tap out of the discussion whenever it inconveniences us—a liberty others don’t enjoy—and forget that, just past the borders of our tranquil city of Claremont is Pomona, no stranger to racial inequality and police brutality. Not far past that is Los Angeles, a city that has felt the force of these problems dating back to the heinous Rodney King beating, the Watts riots, and of course long before those as well. But even these communities are just far enough away that we often forget that systemic injustice is something they deal with every day. True, some of us are from these communities and this may seem very close to home. However, many of us have no close connections with the people dealing directly with these issues, and as a result, we underestimate how significantly their lives are impacted.
But we’ve received our wake up calls. We’ve seen enough evidence, enough studies, enough articles, enough stories, and enough senseless killings of our very own citizens—not to mention, by the very people that are supposed to protect and serve them. I don’t want to wake up another day in a world where people live in fear of those that look different from them. I love so many things about this country, but the way we treat certain groups of people, based on race or other attributes, is not one of them.
I hope that everyone can take the iceberg analogy to heart. Take the time to look below the surface with each person we encounter, embrace not just diversity but also the things we share, and value people simply for being people. Just like you are, just like I am. Just like Michael Brown and Kajieme Powell were.
We can’t rewrite the past, but the future is another story. And I hope we write it with more empathy and more compassion than we’re writing with now.]]>
The Forum spoke with Detective Bureau Lieutenant Mike Ciszek of the Claremont Police Department (CPD) regarding the investigation. While a police report is not publicly available right now, Detective Ciszek informed us that “the evidence that we have is slim at this point. The video that we have,” which he said came from cameras in Appleby’s laundry room and Campus Safety cameras located around campus, “is not the greatest video,” and “there’s no witnesses to anything.”
However, Detective Ciszek said that based on the video footage, which is “shaky,” the suspected arsonist “looks like it’s a skinny white male.” He encourages any students who may have seen someone fitting this description around the time of the fires to report it to CMC’s Office of Investigations, headed by Marcie Gardner, and the CPD. Detective Ciszek added that while “we’ve got very minimal leads, we’ve got some evidence we need to process through our labs,” and they are hoping that greater publicity around the incidents and the investigation will reach people who “may have seen something” that could contribute to their search.
One issue that multiple students who were at Appleby when it was evacuated described to The Forum was that the dorm’s fire extinguishers were inaccessible to the Resident Assistants responding to the situation that night. Eric Vos, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life, works directly with the RAs, and explained to us that the various fire extinguishers around campus are supposed to be accessible to anyone, not just RAs, in the case of an emergency.
The mechanism for accessing the North Quad extinguishers, Dean Vos explained, entailed breaking a sheet of glass in order to open the wall-mounted container holding the extinguisher. However, when the responding RAs attempted to access the North Quad extinguishers that night, the glass panel would not break, and they could not access the fire extinguishers. In response to this issue, Dean Vos said that the glass panels have been removed from the boxes holding the North Quad fire extinguishers, so that one need only reach through an opening to access the container, and need not break glass in order to do so.
While students primarily noticed the fires in Appleby on Friday night (technically, early in the morning on Saturday, around 3 a.m.) since the dorm was evacuated once the fire alarm went off, there were five fires in total set on campus. Only two of the fires were in Appleby. Marcie Gardner, CMC’s Assistant Vice President for Investigations, explained the incidents in more detail in an email to The Forum.
Of the two fires set in Appleby, Gardner said that one of them “was set to a trashcan on Appleby’s second floor and melted the trash can and damaged the hanging blinds in the window” behind it. There is are also large scorch marks visible on the canopy of the balcony just above where the fire burned. The second Appleby fire was inside of a dryer in the laundry room, which “destroyed the dryer,” she said. Regarding the other fires, she told us a third “was set on the first floor of Green Hall between two rooms,” which “damaged a chair and flag.” The fourth and fifth were small fires near Bauer Center, which “caused negligible damage to the interior of a cement trashcan and to a small patch of bushes at the base of a tree.”
Gardner also explained that the investigation into the incidents is being jointly conducted by CMC’s Office of Investigations and the CPD. “Detective [Hector] Tamayo is spearheading the law enforcement investigation for the Claremont Police Department,” Gardner told us, “and the Los Angeles County Fire Department was also involved in the initial investigation.”
While no additional information has been directly released to the community since Dean Spellman’s initial email, Gardner noted that “CMC intends to keep the student body informed as concrete information develops.”]]>
During fall of 2001, Halpern received a call from Ronald Riggio, Professor of Leadership and Organisational Psychology. Riggio met Halpern in 1979 when she was a professor at his graduate program, and he kept in touch with her throughout the years. When a position opened up at CMC at the Berger Institute for Work, Family and Children, her name popped up. Halpern came to campus the very next day, and her new role there was settled after a few conversations.
Halpern immediately left California State University in San Bernardino and became a Professor of Psychology and the first Director of the Berger Institute at CMC. Since then, Halpern has had a huge impact on students, faculty and the Psychology Department.
Sherylle Tan, the director of internships and Kravis Leadership Institute (KLI) research, was first hired by Halpern in 2003 to be the Associate Director of the Berger Institute. Tan worked by her side for almost four years, and noted, “[Halpern] helped to bring prestige to the Psychology Department at CMC. It’s a really strong department … and I think she’s helped to build that.”
Riggio credits the success of the Institute to Halpern. As a mother of two children, Halpern was a perfect fit for the job. Professor Dan Krauss, the current Chair of the Psychology Department, added, “She created a name for that institution and brought in this idea of work, family, life balance at the institution and globally.”
Mabelle Bong SC ’15 decided to be a Psychology and Art double major after taking Halpern’s introductory psychology class her freshman year. She explained that Professor Halpern taught her that “I’m a lot smarter than I think I am, and I need to trust that I can do it. She just has a lot of confidence in me and my fellow research assistants … and that drove us to work harder because we didn’t want to disappoint her,” Bong commented.
After three years at CMC, Halpern became the President of the APA, the world’s largest organization of psychologists. Not only is she one of the most famous cognitive psychologists of her generation, but Halpern is also an expert on gender issues. In 2009, she was named Trustee Professor of Psychology and George Roberts Fellow at CMC, in addition to serving as the Psychology Department Chair until 2011.
Despite her many accomplishments, it was hard for Halpern to pinpoint her greatest achievement at CMC. After a few minutes of deliberation, she said, “I would have to say clearly, and I say this honestly, it’s in the success of my students. Most students go on and do incredible things with their lives. If I was a little tiny piece of that, that’s pretty exciting.”
Many of Halpern’s students remember her for her humor, which provided comfort in times of stress. Despite being so well-known in her field, her down-to-earth and caring personality made her stand out from other professors. Christopher Pentoney CGU ’15 recalls Halpern’s ability to keep track of each student’s project and give individual attention. Pentoney mentioned, “she’s the kind of professor that … helps take you out of where you want to be, like where you’re comfortable with, and pushes you to where you need to be.”
As a colleague, Riggio describes Halpern as “ideal”—friendly, helpful, hard-working, even-tempered.
Tan commented, “If she believes in you, she’s an advocate for you and a mentor. She’s always willing to help you out, to advance your career, to just kind of give you that push and say, ‘you can do it!’”
Retiring is not an easy transition for Halpern; she noted how much she already misses CMC. When asked what she will miss most after retiring, she said, “I’ll miss the questions: ‘what did I mean when I said this’ or ‘had I considered something else.’ I’ll miss all the emails—believe it or not. I’ll miss my wonderful colleagues that I had the opportunity to eat lunch with and just hang around with for lots of years.”
And Halpern will be missed dearly. Without a pause, Riggio said, “I miss her already. I miss her colleague-ship. I miss going down the hall and talking to her, bouncing ideas off of her… And just her friendship. She’s been one of the people I’ve known the longest.”
Angelo Liao CMC ’16 added, “[I’ll miss] that I can just go to her office hours and tell her any good news, our check-ins about how I’m doing and what I’m doing with my life.”
“I’ll miss hearing her voice,” Tan continues, “When she asks me about my daughter, she calls her my ‘boopsey-bear’. Just little things like that, just these little sweet things that she says and does.”
Halpern wanted to thank the CMC community: “It is a incredible place. It’s hard to even understand the high quality education you get because you sort of get used to it. But it’s really a place where people can bloom and grow. And I’m very grateful for having been there. And for the wonderful people,” Halpern said.
Students and faculty members will honor Halpern in a celebration this spring, where renowned scholar and psychologist Robert Sternberg will be a keynote speaker. Though gone from CMC, she can still be found at Keck Graduate Institute’s Minerva program as the Founding Dean of Social Sciences, and she plans to visit often.
Currently, the Psychology Department is searching for new cognitive and health psychology professors. Krauss commented, “I’m hopeful that we’ll get a bright, energetic person, but we’re never going to replace her; we’re never going to have another person like her here at the college.”]]>
However, in the bucket of the financial aid, the numbers came up short.
Ernie Iseminger, Vice President for Development and External Relations, commented, “We try to be donor-centric. We care deeply about donors’ interests, and not all donors’ priorities will be scholarships. Some of them will believe in buildings, some will believe in professorships or speaker series. It’s obvious that they want to support their priorities.”
Coming out of the last campaign, President Hiram Chodosh decided to establish The Student Imperative, a special campaign focused on scholarships and financial aid. The goal of the campaign is to raise $100 million. This campaign is the first effort on the part of CMC to raise money exclusively for financial aid. Iseminger said of the campaign, “In the long run, it is critical as we move forward. The Student Imperative is critical in order to continue to attract the best students possible and we are very committed to it.”
CMC’s Financial Aid Office is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated need for admitted U.S. citizens and permanent residents. It usually requires around $27 million to support the entire student body. This number, coupled with the fact that the amount of the financial aid needed every year is unpredictable, makes it extremely difficult for CMC to calculate the annual financial budget.
“CMC is committed to be accessible to students who want to go here. It does require us to find the necessary resources to fund all the students that we admitted here. It is very expensive. It is a big number. That’s why we need more resources, so that whatever is required, we get the proper resources to cover it,” Iseminger commented.
This is the second year of The Student Imperative, which is a three- to five-year concentrated effort. So far, CMC has received a number of positive responses from alumni, parents and friends in the community. “We want as many alumni and parents to get involved in this, but we just got started. Ideally 100% of our alumni will make a gift, but it usually turns out to be more like 40 or 50%. They are very supportive and our job is to find the resources from the right people to support this Student imperative. Every gift matters to us no matter of the size,” Iseminger noted.
To support The Student Imperative, Ben Tillotson ’15, the ASCMC President, launched the Los Angeles Marathon initiative. Students themselves may not be able to make significant financial contributions to the campaign, but Tillotson was trying to think creatively about how else students could contribute. He finally settled on fundraising by running a marathon because of the dedication required to run 26.2 miles, the distance of a marathon. He wrote in an email to The Forum, “When we call members of the CMC community for donations, we want them to see that this is a cause we’re passionate about.”
The LA Marathon will take place on March 15th. Students of all running levels and abilities are encouraged to participate. Participating students will train as a team weekly. The group training schedule can be found here.
Staff and faculty members also have expressed interest in helping the student fundraisers. “This initiative is entirely student initiated and organized. The Development Office is helping with the logistics for fundraising, and the Public Affairs Office is helping us spread the word about this and hopefully create a blog,” Tillotson commented.
Rita Gilles ’15, another Marathon initiative organizer, commented on the importance of increasing the socioeconomic diversity of students on campus, which can be achieved with increased financial aid. “Most alumni we’ve spoken to have been supportive of the cause, and agree with the goal,” she noted.
Beyond fundraising, Tillotson and Gilles also see the potential for the event to have a positive impact on the CMC community. Gilles noted, “For one thing, we’re encouraging community spirit and acceptance. So many of the CMCers coming out to the initial training runs are not seasoned athletes, but everyone has been incredibly welcoming and positive about the experience. It’s also been inspiring to watch underclassmen stepping up as team captains, and seniors taking breaks from thesis (gasp?!) to come support us.” Tillotson and Gilles also discussed the possibility of strengthening the culture of social responsibility on campus through this initiative.
Kosta Psaltis ’15, a certified yoga instructor, is participating in the marathon, and has even offered yoga classes for the team to support of the training. “The community response has been tremendous, and we see the marathon as a wonderful way to bring together CMCers of all different years and interests.” Gilles said.
Although at this stage, the donations and the number of students participants is not finalized, Tillotson believes “the money we raise amounts to something. Regardless of how much we raise, I think this is putting a lot of energy into the campaign which certainly can’t hurt.”]]>