Monthly Archives: December 2011

Board of Trustees: Follow-Up to Campus Meetings

To:  The Pomona College Community

We want to thank everybody who met with us last week on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the work authorization issue.  All of us understood the human cost of the difficult actions we had to take and wish there was an alternative course of action we could have followed.

We received valuable feedback from the groups with whom we met regarding our procedures and external communications. We intend to offer suggestions on how to make improvements in these areas to help us better serve the College in the future.

We look forward to working with the community to make Pomona an even better institution.

Paul Efron, Board Chair

David Oxtoby, President

Jeanne Buckley, Trustee

Ranney Draper, Trustee Emeritus

Paul Eckstein, Trustee

Terry Hodel, Trustee

Meg Lodise, Trustee

Stewart Smith, Trustee

Jennifer Wilcox, Trustee

Lynn Yonekura, Trustee

Tagged

Media Coverage

Below is a list we have compiled of all media coverage pertaining to the document check process over the last month, ordered chronologically:

ETA: For a more updated list of articles, check out our Media Coverage page!

November 11
Pomona Reviews Employee Documents; WFJ Protest

November 16
Pomona College Food Workers Rally After Documentation Questioned

November 18
Faculty Resolve to Support Workers; Students, Staff Protest Document Checks

Students Should Follow Faculty’s Lead

November 21
Board of Trustees Calls For Document Audit

November 23
Letter to the Pomona College Board of Trustees

December 1
Letter to the Editor: A Response to the Pomona College Board of Trustees

Workers for Justice Boycotts Dining Halls

Alexander Vigil Protests Pomona’s Document Check

December 2
17 Employees Terminated Over Documents; Boycott, Vigil Extended

15 Arrested in Protests Over Documentation Firings

Why I Am a Part of the Alexander Hall Vigil

Vigil Shows Pomona Students at Their Best

Pomona College Protest: Terminated Undocumented Workers Chant ‘We’re Here And We’re Not Leaving’

15 Arrested in Protest of Pomona Dining Hall Firings

December 5
Pomona Terminates 17 Over Documents

Letter to the Editor: A Response to Professor Teter’s Letter

Letter to the Editor: December 5 Reply Letter to the Board

December 10
Letter from Sidley Austin to the Pomona College Community

Letter to the Editor: Hunger Fast Statement of Purpose

December 12
Closed-door meetings scheduled with Pomona College officials over dismissed dining hall workers

December 15
Nasty Bosses on College Campuses

BOT Hears Criticism, Suggestions in Meetings with Faculty, Staff, Students

Tagged

The Student Life: BOT Hears Criticism, Suggestions in Meetings with Faculty, Staff, Students

From The Student Life: Link to original article

By IAN GALLOGLY

Members of the Pomona College Board of Trustees held a series of three meetings with faculty, current and former dining services employees, and students on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the recent employment authorization reviews that resulted in the termination of 17 college employees on Dec. 1, general worker concerns, and ways to improve communication between the Board and other members of the college community. Trustees were on campus this week for their quarterly Board meeting. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

Voices of Concerned Pomona Students: If I Could Meet with The Board…

On Dec. 14, only select group of students from the extended vigil were allowed to meet with trustees. Students were able to circumvent (partially) those restrictions by presenting the following document, which contains a compilation of students’ names, organization/affiliations, and a short statement on what they would say to the Board.

What I Would Say to the Board

Tagged , , ,

Alumni mobilize

Below is a letter sent out by several members of the Concerned Pomona Alumni group to the College administration:

We have been reading about the recent developments at Pomona College and are concerned about the College’s recent decisions, namely in regard to compliance with federal employment regulations. We were very disappointed to learn that the College is being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board following allegations of imposing illegal sanctions on dining hall workers. Specifically, we have read that one of our top chefs was denied promotion for wearing a union button and the College has a policy that prohibits dining hall workers from talking to students during meal times.

During our time at Pomona College there were also myriad issues surrounding the ability of dining hall workers to form a union and receive a fair wage for their hard work. Given the centrality of food service to our residential campus, we believe that it is especially important to quickly resolve this dispute. After all, these are the very individuals who greet, serve and clean up after students at each meal. They have worked very hard to make sure that we were taken care of, even during stressful times, such as final exam periods.

As an affluent college, with a rather large endowment, it behooves the College to compensate these workers at a fair rate. The fact that workers are still claiming to suffer from abuses and low wages after more than a decade strongly suggests that the College is not addressing the issue with proper urgency. Also, the fact that the federal government has filed a formal complaint against the College does not enhance its image to the public and possible future applicants. Rather, this issue may irreparably damage the College’s standing.

For these reasons, we suggest the formation of a student-faculty-alumni committee to investigate the workers’ claims and to identify amenable solutions for our workers who have given so much to the College. Now it is time to give back to them what they have rightly earned over so many years.

Yours truly,

Nicki Lisa Cole ’02, Audrey Hill ’02, Susan Koppelman ’01, Charles Cange ’02, Jimmie Ahimsa Luthuli ’02, Tiombe Jones, Attorney at Law ’02

we are not alone

Concerned Alumni of Pomona College have also begun organizing around this situation! See their facebook page here: Concerned Alumni of Pomona College.

A little more about what this group is doing, as posted on their wall:

Please send your email addresses to Peter Kuhn ’98 kuhn.peter@gmail.com to get into the virtual headquarters Google group! Give him your name and graduation year along with any other information you have. Be sure to tell him if you are writing a letter or willing to make phone calls. Letter writing and phone banking are a part of this effort. Address your letter to the Board of Trustees and send it. There is no uniform message that everyone must include in their letters. Make your letter unique. I told him that myself and a couple of friends are writing a letter about the NLRB investigation, which does not relate to the 17 people fired. The feds are investigating Pomona for imposing a gag rule and practicing illegal employment practices including worker intimidation.

Never forget

Participants in the extended vigil painted Walker Wall today in recognition of the seventeen employees terminated by Pomona College at the end of the document reverification process.

 

Oxtoby: Response to Student Fast

To the Pomona College Community:

Many of you are aware that a group of four students began a fast on Wednesday evening. I have attached their statement of purpose to this e-mail. I wanted you to know that I have responded to their requests this morning. My letter is below. I hope that the students accept our proposal and end their fast immediately.

David Oxtoby

President

 

December 9, 2011

To Isabel, Will, Andrew, and Tracy,

Since I learned of your fast yesterday morning, I have forwarded your request and discussed it with members of the Board of Trustees. As I told them, I believe the proposed meeting between Board members and staff is a good idea on its own merits. It would complement other College efforts to ensure a full campus dialogue, including the scheduled meetings between Board members and students from ASPC and the Concerned Students vigil, and between Board members and a group of Pomona faculty.

For these reasons, and in order to respond constructively to your request, we propose the following agreement in return for an immediate end to your fast.

We propose a meeting next Wednesday at 10 a.m. between a small group of Trustees and any Dining Service employees who wish to take part, including former employees who were terminated on December 2. The goal of the meeting would be for the Trustees to hear directly from the staff and report back to the larger Board and the administration. Spanish translation would, of course, be provided. We would depend upon you to contact the terminated workers to invite them to participate, if they wish to do so.

Barring objections from the employees, we would agree to permit the four of you to be present to observe and offer quiet support to the employees, but not to participate in the discussions. We believe that any recording of the discussions could inhibit free and open speech and, therefore, we do not agree to this part of your request. However, we agree that openness and transparency are essential, so we are prepared, unless the employees object, to invite an editor from The Student Life to attend and report back on the meeting to the Pomona community. We would schedule the meeting in a neutral campus location, such as Rose Hills Theatre. Due to other time constraints on the Board, it could last no longer than one hour.

To help ensure that all parts of our community feel valued and heard, we believe that this meeting can play a significant role. We remain open to any proposal that might help the community move forward in a constructive dialog, but would like to stress that such extreme actions as putting one’s health in jeopardy are not necessary to ensure that we are listening and will give such proposals careful consideration.

We are all concerned about your health and welfare and respectful of your commitment. I hope you will agree to this proposal so that we can continue to move forward. Please give me your answer as soon as possible, so that we can continue with our planning.

Sincerely,

David Oxtoby

President of Pomona College

Tagged , ,

Inland Empire Weekly: Social Activism 101

From The Inland Empire Weekly: Link to original article

By TOMMY PURVIS

Pomona College administrators’ ivory tower group think and the finer virtues of noblesse oblige appear to stop at the bottom line. It was evident on Dec. 1 when College President David W. Oxtoby stood firm in the face of public pressure to fire 17 long-term immigrant employees following their two-year effort to form a union. The decision was met with simultaneous and instant direct action from students, alumni, faculty, community members, a workers’ rights organization and a formidable union.

For years, the Frary Dining Hall workers made fine college cuisine and cleaned dishes for students in the 80-year-old building made famous from the priceless hand-painted mural on the great north wall by Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco. The well-known image of Prometheus—the Titan from Greek mythology who stole fire from Zeus to give to the mortals—is proof that life does often imitate art. At least for the students from this liberal arts college who are awake and trumpets social activism. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , ,

Faculty weigh in

Today, during the weekly faculty meeting, Pomona faculty met and voted on a resolution pertaining to the recent document check situation.

The text of the resolution is as follows:

Resolution 1

The faculty finds that the recent firings of employees as a result of re-verification of immigration documentation was in contradiction to the principles of inclusion established by this body. The faculty calls on the Administration to offer to fully fund all reasonable legal and documentation related expenses for all employees who were identified as needing to re-verify their employment eligibility, especially for the 16 employees fired on December 1 in order to help them complete the necessary paperwork. When the fired employees have the proper documents, it asks they be rehired with back pay for up to two years.

The resolution was presented with the following rationale (not voted on):

Rationale

We are deeply disturbed at the direction the College has taken in its dealing with staff. We believe that the firings of 16 people on December 1 were unnecessary and could have been avoided. We also believe that the re-verification process itself was unnecessary and has caused distress to many who experienced the process as questioning their legitimacy as members of the community. We are further concerned that the re-verification process and the firings have intimidated workers attempting to exercise their legitimate rights to organize a union in the dining halls. Finally, we worry that these actions have riven our community and damaged the College’s standing in the wider society.

Despite repeated suggestions of legal and fair alternatives to the re-verification and firings that were suggested by faculty, students, alumni, legal experts, and members of the wider community, the Administration, apparently pressed by the Board of Trustees, took a set of actions that hurt loyal and long standing employees. Moreover, these firings have done damage to our community, raised disturbing questions about the College’s motivations, and violated principles of inclusion unanimously established by the faculty. President Oxtoby could have done more to slow the process or to seek alternative counsel, however, we believe that the Board of Trustees bears ultimate responsibility for these unfortunate developments. Therefore, it is with great regret, but also with the intention of healing the community, that we bring the following resolutions to the faculty.

A second resolution was also presented at the meeting, but because of time constraints, discussion and voting of the resolution was tabled until the next faculty meeting (scheduled for next Friday). The text of the second resolution is as follows:
Resolution 2
The faculty resolves that it lacks confidence in the leadership of the Board of Trustees to be a proper steward of the community of Pomona College. It asks that the Board meet with the faculty in a special meeting next week to discuss ways to restore our confidence.”