Tag Archives: Hunger Strike

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

From The Los Angeles Times: Link to original article

By PALOMA ESQUIVEL

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

By EMMA ROLLER

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

From The Student Life: Link to original article

By IAN GALLOGLY

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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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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Contra Costa Times: Closed-door meetings scheduled with Pomona College officials over dismissed dining hall workers

From Contra Costa Times: Link to original article

CLAREMONT – Pomona College trustees have agreed to meet with current and fired dining hall workers, faculty members and students in closed meetings this week.
The first meeting was set for today between a group of trustees and faculty members at an undisclosed place and time. They will discuss the firing on Dec. 2 of 17 workers for lack of documentation to work legally in the United States.
“The college is hopeful the ongoing discussion among all parts of our community will help us figure out how to move forward in the best possible way,” said spokeswoman Cynthia Peters on Monday. “Its purpose is to facilitate the flow of conversation between participants.”
Two more meetings are scheduled for Wednesday.
One will include a small group of trustees, any current dining workers who want to take part and the fired employees.
The second meeting will include the board of trustee’s student affairs committee, representatives from Pomona College student government and members of the Concerned Students of Pomona College vigil who have set up tents in front of Alexander Hall in protest of the college’s actions.
The college reviewed personnel files of all employees and those who could not produce appropriate proof of legal residency in the United States were terminated.
The review was conducted because of a complaint to the board of trustees about the college’s hiring process.
The board’s decision to hold this week’s meetings followed a fast by four students to support dining hall workers. The students ended their fast Friday after the meetings were scheduled.
Pomona College faculty members approved a resolution in support of the fired workers on Dec. 7.
“The faculty finds that the recent firings of employees as a result of re-verification of immigration documentation was in contradiction to the principles of inclusion established by this body,” read the resolution.
“The faculty calls on the Administration to offer to fully fund all reasonable legal and documentation related expenses for all employees who were identified as needing to re-verify their employment eligibility, especially for the 16 employees fired on Dec. 1 in order to help them complete the necessary paperwork. When the fired employees have the proper documents, it asks they be rehired with back pay for up to two years.” A 17th worker was fired but has asked for an extension.
Miguel Tinker-Salas, professor of Latin American and Chicano history, said the faculty had called for the board to restate its support for an inclusive community that doesn’t discriminate based on race, creed, religion, immigration status and other reasons.
“We think (dining hall workers) have contributed to the welfare of the college for the last 15 to 20 years. They should be treated with respect,” Tinker-Salas said.
“(The trustees are) looking to hear from dining staff about their ideas on how the community can come together to begin to heal from the process,” Peters said.
The four students who engaged in the fast could observe and “offer quiet support” but will not participate in the one-hour meeting, according to an email from President David Oxtoby.
“I think it’s been a real testament to the students who got a meeting with members of the board of trustees and will raise the level of the dialogue in that they’re now getting more information,” said Jose Zapata Calderon, emeritus professor of sociology and Chicano Studies at Pitzer College. He was one of 15 people arrested for obstructing traffic during a protest on Dec. 2.
There will be no tape recording of the meetings, despite a request from the students, but the college said an editor from “The Student Life” newspaper could take notes and report to the community what happened.

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The Student Life: Letter to the Editor: Hunger Fast Statement of Purpose

From The Student Life: Link to the original article

By WILL MULLANEY, ISABEL JUAREZ, ANDREW DAVIS SAUL, and TRACY ZHAO

The following Statement of Purpose was distributed to members of the Pomona College community on Dec. 8 regarding a hunger fast initiated by students (undersigned) calling for a meeting between current and former Dining Services employees and members of the Pomona College Board of Trustees following the termination of 17 Dining Services employees on Dec. 1 after they failed to submit adequate employment authorization papers. President David Oxtoby responded to the request, and the hunger fast was ended on Dec. 9. A meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 14 between members of the Board of Trustees, employees who were terminated on Dec. 1, current Dining Services employees and the four students who authored this letter. An editor from The Student Life will also be present at the meeting.

To the Editor,

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with all those affected by the recent document check, particularly the 17 Pomona dining hall employees who lost their livelihoods on December 1. Since these individuals who prepared our meals everyday are no longer here, we have begun fasting and will continue to do so until we know that their voices will be heard.

We are deeply disappointed with the Board’s recent decisions and support all attempts made by faculty, Concerned Pomona Students, and other community members to initiate dialogue with the Board of Trustees. As active participants and supporters of the extended vigil outside of Alexander Hall, we are in part inspired by our peers’ willingness to sacrifice their comfort and time for their beliefs.

We do not believe the Board has yet responded to the concerns of Pomona community members in direct and substantive ways. We therefore request that the Trustees of Pomona College agree to hold a meeting with dining hall employees—including those who were terminated on December 1—and with a small group of students when the Board convenes on Pomona’s campus next week. To further ensure transparency and honesty from all parties involved in this process, we ask that the Board allow this meeting to be recorded.

Only by recognizing all workers—including those who were terminated—as integral members of Pomona College and actively listening to their concerns can the Board truly honor its commitment to inclusiveness. Because the 17 employees dedicated valuable years of their lives in service to our community; we now commit ourselves to continue to fast until the Board schedules this meeting.

In hopes of a more equitable Pomona,

Isabel Juarez PO ‘13, Will Mullaney PO ‘12, Andrew Davis Saul PO ‘14, Tracy Zhao PO ‘13

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