Scripps suggests paying minority students 'emotional labor'

Elliot Dordick
The Claremont Independent

  • Scripps College resident assistants (RAs) recently hung two types of signs titled “Emotional Labor 101” across campus to warn students against “making people uncomfortable.”
  • One flyer refers to non-white students as "victims of emotional labor" because they must exert energy to make others comfortable and live up to societal expectations, and suggests they should be paid for their trouble.
  • The other flyer, addressed to white students, instructs them to seek out other white people who are committed to social justice issues, and to be "mindful" of their privileged position.
  • Scripps College resident assistants (RAs) recently hung two types of signs titled “Emotional Labor 101” across campus to warn students against “making people uncomfortable.”

    One of the signs, printed on a white background, is titled, “Quick Guide For White Students.” The other poster, printed on black paper, is titled, “Quick Guide For People Of Color And Marginalized Backgrounds.”

    “Seek community of white people who are educating themselves/thinking about social justice issues.”   

    Both signs, which are marked with the Scripps College administration’s stamp of approval, define “emotional labor” as “the exertion of energy for the purpose of addressing people’s feelings, educating, making people comfortable, or living up to social ‘expectations.’”

    [RELATED: Claremont students refuse to live with whites]

    The sign addressing non-white students notes, “Victims of emotional labor can be cornered in the classrooms, on social media, or in social events. If you are constantly having to explain or defend this could be you.”

    The poster then asks, “What can I do about it?” and states, “First and Foremost: Take care of yourself. Decide if it’s worth your time. The burden does not rest on your shoulders! Remove yourself if possible/necessary. You don’t owe anyone anything at the expense of your mental health.

    The flyer then lists several tips to avoid overexertion, suggesting that minority students “Refer to a friendly Google search of the concept in question,” “call in professors and white peers to help educate their peer(s),” and even “charge for your services,” because “if you’ve decided you’re going to do it, at least get paid; Visit your designated [dean of students on campus] to talk about ways to address the mental toll.”

    [RELATED: Claremont funds racially exclusive program to fight racism]

    The guide addressed to white students, rather than discussing the experience of “emotional labor,” instead asks, “How do I know I’m causing someone emotional labor?”

    The answer, it explains, can be found by asking oneself questions like “Could I have Googled the answer but I chose not to? Do I find myself in a situation where people of color or people from a marginalized group are educating me? What power dynamics are at play? Do I find myself getting defensive? Are people telling me I’m causing them emotional labor?”

    The message to white students ends by listing options for “What can I do about [causing others emotional labor]?”

    The poster states that white students should “Be mindful of your place and position. Google it! Seek community of white people who are educating themselves/thinking about social justice issues. Compensate the labor you caused. Educate yourself, take advantage of ethnic studies courses, the internet, and SCORE [Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment] . Take ownership for the harm you caused. Do better next time!”

    Neither the Scripps College nor the RAs whose email addresses are listed on the posters responded to requests for comment.

    This article was originally published in The Claremont Independent, a conservative student newspaper affiliated with the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished here with permission.

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    Elliot Dordick

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent is an independent journal of campus affairs and political thought serving the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. The magazine receives no funding from any of the colleges and is distributed free of charge on campus. All costs of production are covered by the generous support of private foundations and individuals. The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of Upholding Truth and Excellence at the Claremont Colleges.

    The Claremont Independent is affiliated with Campus Reform through the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished on Campus Reform with permission from the paper. 

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