Contra Costa Times: Closed-door meetings scheduled with Pomona College officials over dismissed dining hall workers

From Contra Costa Times: Link to original article

CLAREMONT – Pomona College trustees have agreed to meet with current and fired dining hall workers, faculty members and students in closed meetings this week.
The first meeting was set for today between a group of trustees and faculty members at an undisclosed place and time. They will discuss the firing on Dec. 2 of 17 workers for lack of documentation to work legally in the United States.
“The college is hopeful the ongoing discussion among all parts of our community will help us figure out how to move forward in the best possible way,” said spokeswoman Cynthia Peters on Monday. “Its purpose is to facilitate the flow of conversation between participants.”
Two more meetings are scheduled for Wednesday.
One will include a small group of trustees, any current dining workers who want to take part and the fired employees.
The second meeting will include the board of trustee’s student affairs committee, representatives from Pomona College student government and members of the Concerned Students of Pomona College vigil who have set up tents in front of Alexander Hall in protest of the college’s actions.
The college reviewed personnel files of all employees and those who could not produce appropriate proof of legal residency in the United States were terminated.
The review was conducted because of a complaint to the board of trustees about the college’s hiring process.
The board’s decision to hold this week’s meetings followed a fast by four students to support dining hall workers. The students ended their fast Friday after the meetings were scheduled.
Pomona College faculty members approved a resolution in support of the fired workers on Dec. 7.
“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,” read the resolution.
“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 Dec. 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.” A 17th worker was fired but has asked for an extension.
Miguel Tinker-Salas, professor of Latin American and Chicano history, said the faculty had called for the board to restate its support for an inclusive community that doesn’t discriminate based on race, creed, religion, immigration status and other reasons.
“We think (dining hall workers) have contributed to the welfare of the college for the last 15 to 20 years. They should be treated with respect,” Tinker-Salas said.
“(The trustees are) looking to hear from dining staff about their ideas on how the community can come together to begin to heal from the process,” Peters said.
The four students who engaged in the fast could observe and “offer quiet support” but will not participate in the one-hour meeting, according to an email from President David Oxtoby.
“I think it’s been a real testament to the students who got a meeting with members of the board of trustees and will raise the level of the dialogue in that they’re now getting more information,” said Jose Zapata Calderon, emeritus professor of sociology and Chicano Studies at Pitzer College. He was one of 15 people arrested for obstructing traffic during a protest on Dec. 2.
There will be no tape recording of the meetings, despite a request from the students, but the college said an editor from “The Student Life” newspaper could take notes and report to the community what happened.

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