The Student Life: Letter to the Pomona College Board of Trustees

From The Student Life: Link to original article

The following letter was produced on Tuesday, Nov. 22, by a group of Pomona College students in response to the college’s ongoing review of the employment authorization documents of 84 college employees. For more information on the document reviews, please see stories in News.

Dear Pomona College Board of Trustees,

As students of Pomona College and members of organizations and groups that are committed to community engagement, social justice, and maintaining a safe and positive campus climate, we are writing you an open letter pertaining to the recent actions taken by the College with regard to employee documentation. This letter was initiated by a small group of current Pomona students, and it has since been circulated through informal channels, evolving with the additional input of a broader group of students. This letter was not created in collaboration or conversation with Workers for Justice, UNITE HERE, or any other union or labor organization.

On Monday, November 7th, 84 members of the Pomona College community – including faculty, staff, and students – received letters stating that there were deficiencies in their work documents. Recipients of these letters were required to meet with Human Resources in the ensuing days and given a deadline of December 1st to resolve any deficiencies. We believe this process has been unclear, unfair, and lacking in consideration for human consequences:

● Letters were distributed in a haphazard, impersonal, and insensitive manner – in some instances in front of other faculty and staff.

● The work statuses of many staff members have been questioned; some of these individuals have served the College for over 20 years.

● Members of our community have been given two weeks to obtain documents that often take much longer to procure.

● Only two college-selected lawyers, based miles away in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, were allowed to serve as legal counsel.

● The call for documents is occurring during a unionization attempt and at a time when our national government is deporting individuals at record numbers.

The pain and fear that these actions have caused in our community have directly impacted the environment in which we work, learn, and live. This college presents itself as an institution committed to fostering a close-knit and diverse residential community, promoting critical inquiry and civic engagement, and educating the next generation of leaders and citizens. The way in which this situation is being handled runs counter to the mission of the College and the missions of our various organizations. It is this inconsistency that has motivated us to address this letter to the Board.

We call on the Board of Trustees to declare a moratorium on the verification of documents of all college staff, faculty, and students. At a minimum, we urge the Board to immediately extend the December 1st deadline in order to alleviate the current climate of fear and intimidation and to remedy the rushed nature of this process. Finally, we call on the Board to set an example of what it means to demonstrate leadership and integrity, to engage in open and honest dialogue, and to stand behind and value every member of our community.


Alice Chan ‘14, Mentor in Asian American Mentor Program, ASPC Off Campus Relations Commissioner

John Bonacorsi ‘12, Residence Hall Staff, Public Policy Analysis Liaison

frank sánchez ‘13, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault, Residence Hall Staff

Razan Ahmed ‘14, Women’s Union Staff Member, Rare Diamonds Member

Vanessa Breeding ‘12, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Sarah Appelbaum ‘13, ASPC Commissioner of Community Relations, Queer Resource Center Volunteer Coordinator

Iris Jong ‘12, Asian American Resource Center Intern, Committee for Campus Climate & Diversity Member

Denise Liriano ‘12, Women’s Union Staff Member

Kori VanDerGeest ‘12, Asian American Resource Center Intern, Member of Pomona Students for Environmental Action & Responsibility

Julia Austenfeld ‘15, Women’s Union Staff Member

Kathy Lu ‘14, Mentor in Asian American Mentor Program, Claremont Progressive Editor

Kelly Park ‘12, Asian American Resource Center Intern, Claremont Progressive Editor

Rosa Greenberg ‘12, Women’s Union Co-Facilitator, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Kelebogile C. Zvobgo ‘14, Rare Diamonds Secretary/Historian, Ujima Peer Mentor

Evyn Espiritu ‘13, Head Mentor in Asian American Mentor Program

Eric Martinez ‘14, Improving Dreams Equality Access & Success Co-Chair, Chicano Latino Student Affairs Sponsor

Caryn McCarthy ‘14, Rare Diamonds Co-Event Coordinator, Residence Hall Staff

Zach Schudson ‘13, Queer Resource Center Staff Member, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Alexis Takahashi ‘13, Asian American Resource Center Intern, Students of Color Alliance Programmer

Tracy Zhao ‘13, Asian American Resource Center Intern, Intercollegiate Dept. of Asian American Studies Liaison

Anna Bax ‘13, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Jessie Yu ‘13, Asian American Resource Center Intern, Asian Studies Liaison

Samuel Wei Kean Pang ‘12, Asian American Resource Center Intern

Joaquin Estrada ‘14, Chicano Latino Student Affairs Sponsor, QUEST Scholars Vice President

Viridiana Chabolla ‘13, Empowered Latin@s in Action Co-President, Draper Center Coordinator

Albert Liu ‘12, Head Mentor in Asian American Mentor Program, Chemistry Liaison

Josh Nomkin ‘13, Draper Center Coordinator

Mitsuko Yabe ‘14, French Liaison, Pre-Health Liaison

William Loyd Gamber ‘13, ASPC Academic Affairs Commissioner

Hsuanwei Fan ‘12, ASPC Environmental Affairs Commissioner

Emi Young ‘13, Philosophy Liaison, Writing Fellow

Jessica Hsu ‘13, Asian American Resource Center Intern

Sonya Zhu ‘14, Mentor in Asian American Mentor Program, Draper Center Student Coordinator

Diana Dao ‘12, Asian American Resource Center Intern, Japanese Liaison

Diana Ortiz ‘14, Improving Dreams Equality Access & Success Co-Leader

Isabel García ‘14, Draper Center Coordinator, Students of Color Alliance Executive Board Member

Erika Parks ‘13, Draper Center Student Coordinator, Challah for Hunger Co-President

Praise Iyiewuare ‘13, Draper Center Student Coordinator

Morgen Chalmiers ‘13, Women’s Union Staff Member, Sponsor

Joshua Rodriguez ‘13, Empowered Latin@s in Action Member, Improving Dreams Equality Access & Success Member

Luis García ‘14, Empowered Latin@s in Action Member

Deborah Frempong ‘15, Women’s Union Staff Member, Committee for Campus Climate and Diversity Member

Elaine Smith ‘12, Residence Hall Staff, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Elaine Yu ‘13, Advocate for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Rodrigo Ranero ‘14, International Student Mentor, Spanish Language Fellow

Nicholas Murphy ‘13, Draper Center Student Coordinator

Shahriyar Zarafshar ‘12, Residence Hall Staff

In no way do we claim to speak on behalf of the groups or organizations with which we are affiliated. However, given our membership in these groups and our commitment to Pomona College as both a community and an institution of higher education, we feel compelled to call upon the Board to take action.


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