Tag Archives: Editorial

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. Continue reading

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The Claremont Progressive: Editorial on Document-Check Aftermath

From The Claremont Progressive: Link to original article

We’ve devoted the entire issue to reflecting on the events at the end of last year that shook our community to the core — namely, the trustee-ordered document audit of Pomona College employees that stripped 17 individuals, 16 of them dining hall workers, of their livelihoods on Dec. 1 — and the actions that various individuals and groups undertook in response.

Much of the uproar has died down since students have returned from winter vacation. Only the semi-permanent closure of Frank Dining Hall on weekends serves as a reminder of how the College has changed. Even this, however, has functioned mostly to deflect the attention back onto students’ lives and students’ problems. The surface-level inconvenience has distracted from addressing the deeply embedded, systematic injustices that brought it about in the first place.

There are questions that should be asked, but no one seems to asking them. We’ll ask them for you. How, for instance, did the terminated workers and their families weather the holiday season without the prospect of steady employment? And what about the workers who remain at the dining halls — how have they adapted to the sudden loss of skilled, experienced colleagues and friends? How has this affected the ongoing fight for unionization? On Tuesday, several workers, both current and former, spoke to those questions at an open panel. You can find minutes from that forum below. And as always, nothing should stop you from speaking with the workers in person. Continue reading

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The Student Life: Vigil Shows Pomona Students at Their Best

From The Student Life: Link to original article

By EDITORIAL BOARD

Two weeks ago, The Student Life and the ASPC Committee for Campus Climate and Diversity co-sponsored an event open to the entire Pomona College community where we discussed the role of this newspaper in issues of diversity on campus. Event attendees included TSL employees, members of the ASPC committee, and other interested Pomona students.

At the event, we discussed the meaning of diversity, ways to solicit opinions that are representative of the entire student body, and guidelines for promoting dialogue around controversial issues. We left the discussion with several ideas for improving our paper.

As we finalize our 11th and final issue of the semester, an issue that has put some of us at TSL through one of the most hectic weeks of our lives, we are reminded of that discussion. We are reminded of the articles and opinion pieces that spawned the conversations that eventually evolved into that discussion.

Some of those conversations were difficult to have, because we had to choose between providing a space for free speech and upholding our own values. But in our first Editorial Board of the semester, we made a pledge: to tell the stories that matter to you, and to foster dialogue, even about issues that make us uncomfortable. And as much as possible, we tried to stick to that pledge.

Over the past few weeks, there has been one story that’s generated more debate and made more people uncomfortable than any other: Pomona’s employment authorization reviews and the protests that have been held in response (see story in News). We expressed our opinion on the reviews in our Nov. 18 issue, and this week we’d like to pass that conversation on to our contributors (see Opinions).

But we would like to say this: there are few things more moving among the experiences we have had at Pomona than the sight of the faces of those students participating in the peaceful vigil outside Alexander yesterday, shortly after a handful of those students met with President David Oxtoby to request, without success, an extension of the 5 p.m. deadline for workers to reverify their documents.

This is a painful and emotional moment in Pomona’s history, and it no doubt warrants the anger that students, workers, alumni, and union organizers have expressed through boycotting Pomona’s dining halls over the past two days. It is also a shame that these boycotts may have in some cases intimidated some students approaching or entering the dining halls who would otherwise have no reason to oppose the workers and their cause.

The vigil, on the other hand, is entirely student organized. It is peaceful, quiet, and non-intrusive. Its message of frustration and sadness over the inability of the Pomona College leadership to manage this institution in a way that inspires trust and respect is clear and justifiable.

In the wake of the termination of 17 Pomona employees yesterday after they failed to reverify their documents, we praise the “concerned Pomona students” currently camped outside Alexander, who in their actions stand as a beacon of Sagehen pride on an otherwise shameful day.

The story does not end here. Follow our updates of the document reviews and protests online, and keep yourselves informed. Don’t stop asking questions, voicing your opinions, listening to those of others, and of course, reading The Student Life.

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The Student Life: Students Should Follow Faculty’s Lead

From The Student Life: Link to original article

By EDITORIAL BOARD

On Nov. 7, Pomona College issued letters to 84 students, faculty, and staff members requesting that they schedule a meeting with the Office of Human Resources before Nov. 11 regarding incomplete or deficient employment authorization documents. These employees were told to submit proper documentation on or before Dec. 1 or they could face termination.

Over the course of the past week, students, staff, faculty, and community members have participated in a series of events at which they expressed their opposition to the document reviews (see story in News). This came to a head Wednesday when the Pomona College faculty voted unanimously to express their concern for the effect these reviews will have on the Pomona community and to affirm their commitment to an environment of inclusivity at the college.

And yet, the majority of Pomona students have remained largely removed from the conversation. This Editorial Board would like to clear up some confusion surrounding the document reviews, request a more complete explanation for why the reviews are necessary, and urge the student body to recognize this issue for what it is: an undermining of the values that lie at the core of this liberal arts institution.

First, we find it unlikely that the document reviews are related to Workers for Justice’s (WFJ) unionization campaign that has been ongoing since March 2010. Not only is the administration too smart to attempt to subvert the unionization campaign in this manner, if that is even its goal, but only a quarter or so of the 84 employees who received letters were dining hall employees.

Second, we are not satisfied by President Oxtoby’s explanation for why the college must re-verify its employees’ papers. Oxtoby told the community in an e-mail last week that the Board of Trustees received a complaint from an employee of the college alleging that Oxtoby and his administration were not conducting thorough document checks of its employees. But we have yet to hear an explanation for why the external audit that followed was legally required. Why did that allegation carry so much weight? As some faculty pointed out on Wednesday, these questions may require answers from the Board of Trustees. Furthermore, Oxtoby said the rapidly approaching Dec. 1 deadline was chosen out of a concern that the college could be approached by federal agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if the documentation deficiencies are not corrected soon. But what is the foundation for that fear? We have heard of raids being conducted by ICE on corporations, but liberal arts colleges? And how would ICE have become aware of the deficiencies, many of which were clerical, if the college had chosen not to go through with an investigation prompted by unfounded allegations?

This leads to our third point: Pomona College is not a corporation; it is a liberal arts community. One of the values that we hold as members of that community is, as the faculty resolution that was passed on Wednesday articulated, “a commitment to an inclusive environment” that welcomes all individuals regardless of background or belief. This commitment is crucial because it sets a moral standard that, while perhaps idealistic within the context of a broader national discussion over immigration law, fosters an open, accepting community for the sharing of ideas that have the potential to effect positive change on our world, including the pursuit of social justice and equality.

Toward that end, we call on the student body to follow the lead of the faculty and stand behind all members of this community. The administration’s hands may be tied by the requirements of the law, but that is not an excuse to ignore the fact that the document reviews could result in the termination of several Pomona employees who have worked here for decades.

At its meeting on Monday, the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Senate should pass a resolution similar to that passed unanimously by the faculty on Wednesday. Students should e-mail administrators and contact trustees directly. And we encourage students to continue to protest these reviews, albeit in a way that recognizes this issue for what it is and offers to educate students who are less informed about the issue.

At the end of Wednesday’s faculty meeting, Professor Cynthia Selassie called for a moment of silence in honor of the late Corwin Hansch, who served on the faculty for 42 years. As faculty and students stood in silence, one couldn’t help but feel the spirit of the 124-year-old Pomona community echoing through the room. That community is under fire now. It’s time to stand up and protect it.

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