Tag Archives: Extended Vigil

The Los Angeles Times: Pomona College Protest’s Party Atmosphere Belies Strife

From The Los Angeles Times: Link to original article


The protest at Pomona College on Friday was much like a big outdoor celebration. Tables were set in the middle of the street, a mariachi played, and electrical and grocery union workers served carne asada. But beneath it simmered a dispute between dining hall workers and the administration that has placed the small liberal arts college on the map of the nation’s battles over labor and immigration policy.

The quarrel over a unionization effort, which had endured for two years, took a dramatic turn in December when the school fired 17 immigrant workers because they could not provide proper paperwork.

The firings galvanized workers, many students and some faculty. Months later, the unrest continues. For several weeks, some students set up tents in front of the campus in protest. Others blocked an intersection and were arrested. They have demanded that the workers be reinstated and that the school accept a neutrality agreement with union organizers. Continue reading

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The Chronicle of Higher Education: Firing of Workers Who Failed to Provide Documents Divides Pomona College

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: Link to original article


When Pomona College fired 17 employees in December because they could not prove they were in the United States legally, it created a divisive controversy on the campus at the same time that it raised a tricky question: How can a college best handle obeying a law that many students and faculty members disagree with?

Even David Oxtoby, Pomona’s president, has called the situation at the Claremont, Calif., institution ironic, given the college’s commitment to promoting Latino culture and diversity on campus. And while Mr. Oxtoby and members of Pomona’s Board of Trustees have said their hands were tied in the matter, some students and faculty members think the liberal-arts college, one of the wealthiest in the United States, could have handled the situation with more respect for the employees. Continue reading

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The Claremont Progressive: Critique of the Extended Vigil: Building a Stronger Movement

From The Claremont Progressive: Link to original article


As the first month of this semester draws to a close, to many, the campus has returned to a state of normalcy; the weather has been pleasant, the jabs at CMC have been plentiful, and ultimate Frisbee continues to imperil pedestrians on Marston Quad. The events of last semester, the tents, the firings, the struggles, have been all but forgotten beneath the braying of first years agonizing about the long trek to Frary, being a sponsor, and the lack of snack on South Campus. Many scoff at the idea of bringing these issues back into focus, insisting instead the past is past and what is done cannot be changed. While it may be easy to forget the past, history is power, and with the experiences of marginalized communities already silenced in the dominant historical narrative, we cannot let the struggle of the 17 fired workers be forgotten. In continuing this struggle, though, there also needs to be space for critical self-reflection in order to build on what has gone well and rethink what could have been more effective; my critique fits squarely into this space. As a supporter of both the extended vigil and Workers for Justice, I believe the extended vigil was a necessary action in solidarity with the workers fighting for their jobs, but the strategies and tactics used could have better supported their struggle. Continue reading

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The Claremont Progressive: (still) in the spirit of a welcoming and inclusive campus environment

From The Claremont Progressive: Link to original article

Dearest Board of Trustees:

hello Claremont Progressive readers! my name is frank sánchez, and i am in my third year at Pomona College majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and minoring in Music. i am one of several students who came together last semester to plan, organize, and participate in the extended vigil outside of Alexander Hall, which was held in response to the letters requesting work documents that were distributed to 84 Pomona employees and the subsequent firing of 17 individuals. i have been asked to write a reflection on the vigil with close to a month-and-a-half’s worth of hindsight. because i feel exhausted after being forced to navigate virtually unnavigable formal channels of communication, i have decided to write in a somewhat informal manner. the following poem/letter/whatever is an attempt to express my views on the experience(s) of last semester and what i hope will continue out of them. i want to emphasize that the opinions expressed in this piece are exactly that, opinions (more specifically, mine), and should not be misconstrued as representative of the thoughts of any other vigil organizers or participants. 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: Students Discontinue Vigil Outside Alexander

From The Student Life: Link to original article


Students returning to campus two weeks ago noticed that there were no longer tents in front of Alexander Hall, a change from the constant presence at the end of last semester. This semester the Concerned Students of Pomona have decided to discontinue their vigil, which was a response to the document checks and termination of 17 College employees.

The students considered extending the vigil, said Sarah Appelbaum PO ’13, one of the participants.

“[The vigil] made sense at the time,” Appelbaum said. It “was largely symbolic,” and reinstating it may have had different implications, she said. “[Alexander Hall] was a building where a lot of administrators had their offices, and some of us felt that if they weren’t there it didn’t make sense for us to be having the extended vigil.” Continue reading

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Board of Trustees: On the Student-Trustee Taskforce

January 17, 2012

To the Pomona College Students:

As Chair of the Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, I want to express my gratitude to the students who met with us in December. Our conversation about the issues raised by the students who held the vigil—and more generally about ways in which we can improve communication between the Board and the students—was substantive and constructive. We were impressed by the students’ commitment and thoughtful approach, and we share their concern about these issues.

Among the topics we discussed were ways to incorporate more two-way communication during the annual Trustee-Student Retreat, how to facilitate the distribution of information about issues before the Board, and ways to increase student understanding of Board governance. In order to build on and follow through with the many helpful ideas that emerged from this meeting, the Board of Trustees has authorized the creation of a new ad hoc Trustee-Student Task Force on Student-Trustee Communication, to explore and recommend ways to improve communication and understanding between the Board of Trustees and Pomona students.

Specifically, the Task Force will review the ideas raised by the students and trustees during the meeting; explore campus communication mechanisms and other measures adopted by the other college and university boards to promote communication, responsiveness, and understanding between students and trustees; and develop a set of recommendations for the future.

We have already selected the student and trustee members of the Task Force, which will be co-chaired by Trustee Jason Rosenthal and myself. We anticipate that the group will meet over the next month and half and present a set of recommendations to the Board at its next meeting in spring 2012.

As you may know, in addition to meeting with students, selected trustees met separately with faculty members and dining staff, including some employees whose jobs were terminated. Both of these meetings were likewise substantive and constructive. In fact, the meeting with dining staff was profoundly moving for trustees as it gave them an opportunity to hear directly from people who lost their jobs after years of faithful service to the College.

In order to address the issues raised in these meetings, the Board of Trustees will be undertaking a review of their procedures for responding to complaints and authorized the creation of a subcommittee to conduct an internal review of the actions taken in this particular case. The Board will also be considering ways of establishing a regular line of communication between the Board and members of the staff.

In every meeting, there was a shared sense that the events of the past few months are the result of a national problem—the harshness of U.S. immigration laws. The trustees have committed to work together with the Administration to set up a forum in the near future that will allow us to focus as a community on better understanding these complex issues and ways we might work to make things better.

This has been a painful time for all of us, and our hearts go out to those who were affected by the events that sparked these conversations. Trustees have joined others in the College community in providing additional help to the affected families through a local non-profit. I am heartened by the fact that as a College family, we are able to come together, learn from each other and look for ways to move forward constructively.

Lynn Yonekura ’70

Chair of the Student Affairs Committee

Pomona College Board of Trustees

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The Student Life: BOT Hears Criticism, Suggestions in Meetings with Faculty, Staff, Students

From The Student Life: Link to original article


Members of the Pomona College Board of Trustees held a series of three meetings with faculty, current and former dining services employees, and students on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the recent employment authorization reviews that resulted in the termination of 17 college employees on Dec. 1, general worker concerns, and ways to improve communication between the Board and other members of the college community. Trustees were on campus this week for their quarterly Board meeting. Continue reading

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Voices of Concerned Pomona Students: If I Could Meet with The Board…

On Dec. 14, only select group of students from the extended vigil were allowed to meet with trustees. Students were able to circumvent (partially) those restrictions by presenting the following document, which contains a compilation of students’ names, organization/affiliations, and a short statement on what they would say to the Board.

What I Would Say to the Board

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