November 30, 2011
Dear Pomona College Community and Other Interested Parties,
As Pomona College students, we are writing to shed light on why we are holding an extended vigil outside of Alexander Hall and elucidate some of the reasons we have decided to take this action. In hopes of being upfront, we want to make it extremely clear that we are not affiliated—nor do we wish to be confused—with Workers for Justice, UNITE HERE, any other union or labor organization, or any Occupy movement. We are Pomona College students who are deeply disappointed and concerned with the recent actions taken by the College, specifically the Board of Trustees, with regard to employee documentation.
After much deliberation, discourse, and thought, we have decided to hold a continued presence outside of Alexander Hall, with the aim of expressing support for and solidarity with the students, staff, and faculty who received letters pertaining to their work documents, as well as any members of the community who have experienced distress as a result of the current situation. We are here to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with recent actions, to promote dialogue about the socially and politically significant underpinnings of recent events, and to provide a space for people to share their thoughts and feelings. Our aspiration is that people view our decision to remain outside of Alexander as a public illustration of our willingness to sacrifice time, comfort, and health for our beliefs. Additionally, we hope that we are permitted to continue with our non-violent, respectful demonstration, which is designed to not infringe upon any individual’s work or study.
We have made a deliberate decision to not conduct a highly obstructive form of action, such as an occupation of a campus building, because we do not want to encroach upon the daily activities and responsibilities of community members. Our presence is intended to create conversation and communication. While we think that there is value and urgency in responding to the actions of the Board of Trustees, we do not want to sacrifice any discussion because of activities that could be construed as combative towards or hindering to Pomona College students, staff, or faculty.
The actions taken by the Board have had a profound impact on us as students. We believe that this process could have been handled in an entirely different manner, and we call for efforts to ameliorate and remedy current wrongdoing and also to ensure that matters regarding the lived experiences of Pomona College members are handled thoughtfully, carefully, and more collaboratively in the future. In this regard, we demand that:
1. The Board of Trustees ceases and desists with its decision to re-verify work documents.
2. Absolutely no Pomona College employees are terminated because of the College’s failure to properly collect employee documents during the hiring process.
3. President Oxtoby and his administration are not held solely responsible for the College’s verification practices, given that deficiencies in many employee documents occurred during the preceding administrations.
4. The Board of Trustees does not hide behind a cloak of confidentiality and legality, when it is a hallmark of a democratic society that issues can be discussed and considered communally.
5. The Board of Trustees open channels of communication that are accessible to all members of the community and are not impeded by gatekeeping and bureaucracy.
It is our belief that we have already pursued a number of institutionally accepted forms of communication, that our concerns have not received adequate and timely responses from the administration, and that our voices, as Pomona College students questioning administrative actions, have not been sufficiently recognized or considered. These are primary reasons we have chosen to elevate the level of conversation by holding an extended vigil outside of Alexander Hall.
We stress that we are working to maintain a peaceful presence outside of Alexander in order to foster dialogue, demonstrate our support for individuals impacted by the Trustees’ decisions, and create a visible and open space for people to grapple with the myriad issues and challenges facing our community.
Concerned Pomona Students
Download a PDF version of the letter here:
Statement to Pomona College Community