The Student Life: Board of Trustees Must Release Internal Report

From The Student Life: Link to original article

We commend the time, thought and deliberate discussion that the Trustee-Student Task Force on Campus Community Communication spent developing its recommendations (to be voted on by the Student Affairs Committee today) to the Pomona College Board of Trustees to enhance dialogue between students and trustees. However, in order to live up to the stated purpose of the task force, the board must do more than the minimum that would be required in order to comply with the recommendations. Once the board has completed its internal review of the events that led to the firing of 17 Pomona employees last semester, it should publish the full text of the report produced by this investigation.

The task force has recommended that the board publish some version of the investigation’s findings—either the full report or a summary. We believe that publishing a summary of the report would not suffice. The board should publish the full report for three reasons. First, the publication would be an immediate and vital fulfillment of the stated charge to the task force: to promote “communication, responsiveness and understanding” between students and trustees.

Second, releasing the full report would promote the legitimate interest of the community in accessing all the information behind an event that caused deep pain for many students, faculty, college officials, community members and board members themselves.

Third, the release of the report describing the board’s specific handling of the complaint last semester would enable the Pomona community outside the Board of Trustees to play an informed role in the formulation of an updated complaint policy. The entire community deserves the opportunity to scrutinize the board’s response to last year’s complaint, which was handled by only a small group of trustees until after the external audit was complete. Trustees, students, faculty and staff should all participate in the debate over whether the same procedure should be used for future complaints.

In the interest of transparency, the report must be made available in a timely manner. And in order to ensure this result, students, faculty, administrators and staff must actively ask the board to release the full report when it is prepared. The timeframe of its completion is still unknown, so the community must press to keep this issue in the forefront. Ideally, the channels of access that the task force has proposed will serve as effective avenues for the community to make sure this publication gets circulated thoroughly.

If the board fails to release the full report, it will not be acting in the spirit of the task force. It will also reflect a failure of the community to ensure that the board cannot ignore this issue.

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