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

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