Tag Archives: Oxtoby

Board of Trustees Review Committee Report

At its meeting on Saturday, May 12, 2012, the Pomona College Board of Trustees voted to accept as written the report from the Board subcommittee that reviewed the facts and circumstances of the February 2011 complaint and subsequent work authorization investigation. The Board also voted to distribute the report to the Pomona College community, along with the whistleblower and complaint response procedures approved by the Audit Committee on May 11, 2012. The Board is currently developing procedures for ensuring a smooth transition and “hand-off” of issues between committee chairs and between Board meetings.

To view the full Review Committee Report, please click on the following link:

Link to pdf

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The Huffington Post: Immigration Reform and Unionization; Dining Hall Workers Seek Justice For All Workers

From The Huffington Post: Link to original article

By FERNANDO ROMERO

No one would’ve thought that the immigration debate would make a stop in the cookie-cutter community of Claremont, California. But the recent firing of 16 kitchen staff workers at Pomona College has caught national attention and caused immigrant rights groups and community activist in the Inland Empire to erupt in anger.

In its effort to prevent the kitchen staff’s unionization, the Pomona College Board of Trustees and school administration continued its history of union-busting tactics, manifested into unmistakable anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiments against the 16 dining hall workers who were fired last December. These acts committed by the trustees go against the very ideals the institution is supposed to uphold, and had done so since its founding in 1887. Taking center stage is the complex immigration issue. Continue reading

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KPCC: Students, faculty, former workers divided over firing of undocumented workers at Pomona

From KPCC: Link to original article

By RUXANDRA GUIDI

Two months after Pomona College fired 17 undocumented employees, students and kitchen workers are still demanding their old jobs back and hoping to start a union.

Pomona College President David Oxtoby has spent a lot of time defending the firings, but he has always insisted he was only following the law.

“The rules, the laws are pretty straightforward and strict,” he said, sitting in his campus office. “If you have any inadequacy, anything deficient in work authorization documents, you have to get that corrected. So that is what happened in the fall.”

It all started with complaints about lax hiring practices that reached Pomona College’s board of trustees. The school hired an outside firm, which found 17 workers – 16 of them in the kitchen – who were without legal documents.

Oxtoby admitted he was conflicted over the decision to terminate the employees.

“One thing that has been suggested is that we should simply as a college say, ‘this is an unjust law and we are not going to obey it’,” he said. “And we certainly did consider that possibility. That would be civil disobedience for a college. To me, however, that is something that an individual can make a decision on.” 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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Oxtoby: Announcement of 17 Terminations (English/Espanol)

December 1, 2011

To The Pomona College Community:

These last few weeks have been very difficult ones for all of us here at Pomona.  When I first learned that the College was required by federal law to ask a group of our employees to work with Human Resources regarding discrepancies in their work authorization records, I laid out three principles I believed should govern this process. The College would act supportively and compassionately, be as open as possible while respecting the privacy of each individual, and our actions would be consistent with the law.  While we have faced thoughtful questions from many of you regarding our actions, I am convinced that we have done our very best to meet those principles.

As you know, this all began with a complaint from a College employee to the Board of Trustees accusing me and my administration of illegal conduct and alleging that the College had never required employees to provide work authorization documents. The resulting investigation necessitated a College-wide audit of legal work authorization documents, which brought to light deficiencies in the files of 84 faculty, staff and part-time workers. These employees were then asked to schedule meetings to resolve the issues with their files, as required by federal law.  Each step of the way, we have tried to be as supportive and helpful as possible while complying with the law, including the offer of independent legal assistance, at College expense, to anyone seeking help in gathering the necessary documentation. And, as the deadline for document submission approached, we made it clear to affected employees that we were willing to assist anyone who faced difficulty or delays in obtaining their documents.

Most of these cases were, as we had hoped, resolved as employees provided the updated documentation that was needed. Unfortunately, in 17 cases, proper documentation was not provided and, as required by law, we had no choice but to end their employment with the College. For each person whose employment was terminated as a result of this situation, the College has provided severance benefits based on years of service, as well as a continuation of their current health care coverage at college expense until June 30, 2012.

Pomona College is a community where people care about each other, and so we all are affected by the pain suffered by people who, in many instances, were long-term members of our community and had given the College many years of service. This is also a place where students, faculty and staff are willing to make their voices heard and work for change. I am deeply proud of that.

I know that some among you question the College’s actions at different stages of this process, but I can assure you that at each step of the way, we have done only what the law compels us to do, and to the best of our abilities we have done it evenhandedly and with concern for each individual affected.

At the same time, the teach-in, protests and demonstrations that have taken place on campus have also strongly made the case that the current law that governs this situation is unduly harsh and unforgiving. I am in complete and heart-felt agreement. Consistent with my commitment to the DREAM Act, I believe that Congress should pass meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform that will allow people who have long contributed to communities like ours to become the full-fledged members that they deserve to be, without living in fear of an event such as this. This reform is long overdue, and unfortunately, will not come soon enough. However, we can make a renewed commitment to seek justice and opportunity for all by insisting on comprehensive immigration reform. I welcome your help on that front.

Our community will need time to heal from what has been an extremely emotional and difficult process for every one of us. Please share with me your thoughts for how best to move forward. You have my commitment to remain open and honest with you.

David Oxtoby

President

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A la comunidad de Pomona College

Estas últimas semanas han sido muy difíciles para todos aquí en Pomona.  En cuanto supe que la ley federal iba a obligar al Colegio pedir que un grupo de nuestros empleados trabajaran con el departamento de recursos humanos debido a deficiencias en sus archivos de autorización de trabajo, planeé seguir tres principios que pensaba que deberían gobernar este proceso.  El Colegio se comportaría de una manera compasiva; el Colegio sería lo más abierto posible mientras que respetaba la privacidad de cada individuo; y nuestras acciones cumplirían con la ley.  Aunque nos hemos enfrentado con preguntas de muchos de ustedes acerca de nuestras acciones, estoy convencido de que hemos hecho lo mejor posible para cumplir con estas reglas.

Como ustedes saben, todo empezó con una denuncia hecha por un empleado del Colegio contra la junta de administradores acusándome a mí y a mi administración de conducta ilegal y alegando que el Colegio nunca había obligado a los empleados a proveer documentos de autorización.  La investigación que siguió hizo necesaria una auditoría al nivel de todo el Colegio de los documentos legales de autorización de trabajo que reveló deficiencias en los archivos de 84 profesores, trabajadores de tiempo completo y trabajadores de tiempo parcial.  Entonces, se pidió a estos empleados que fijaran reuniones para resolver los problemas con sus archivos personales según nos exigió la ley federal.  En cada momento hemos intentado ser lo mas compasivos posible mientras que cumplimos con la ley, incluyendo ofertas de asistencia legal independiente, a cargo del Colegio, para cualquier persona que necesitaba ayuda en buscar la documentación necesaria.  Y, según se acercaba la fecha límite para presentar los documentos, lo hicimos muy claro a los trabajadores afectados que estábamos dispuestos de asistir a cualquier persona que tenía dificultades o retrasos en obtener sus documentos.

La mayoría de estos casos fueron, como esperábamos, resueltos según los empleados presentaban la documentación necesaria.  Desafortunadamente, en 17 de los casos, no se presentó la documentación necesaria y, según la ley, no tuvimos más remedio que despedir a estos empleados.  Para cada persona que quedó cesada como resultado de esta situación, el Colegio pagó una indemnización por cese en base a sus años de servicio y una continuación de sus beneficios médicos actuales a cargo del Colegio hasta el 30 de junio, 2012.

Pomona College es una comunidad donde las personas se apoyan mutuamente, y todos quedamos afectados por los dolores que sufre la gente que, en muchas circunstancias, fue miembro de nuestra comunidad por mucho tiempo y que ha dado al Colegio muchos años de servicio.  Este lugar también es un lugar donde los estudiantes, los profesores y los empleados están dispuestos a alzar la voz y trabajar por el cambio.  De esto estoy profundamente orgulloso.

Entiendo que algunos de ustedes cuestionen las acciones del Colegio en diferentes etapas de este proceso, pero les puedo asegurar que en cada paso hemos hecho sólo lo que nos obliga la ley y, de la mejor manera posible, lo hemos hecho de una manera imparcial y con una preocupación por cada persona afectada.

Al mismo tiempo, las manifestaciones que han sucedido en el campus han subrayado que la ley actual que gobierna esta situación es excesivamente dura e implacable.  Con esto estoy plenamente de acuerdo.  En concordancia con mi apoyo del DREAM Act, creo que el Congreso debería aprobar reformas exhaustas y significativas de las leyes de inmigración que permitirían a aquellos que han contribuido a las comunidades como la nuestra convertirse en ciudadanos de pleno derecho, como merecen, sin la amenaza de una situación como esta.  Hace mucho que se necesita esta reforma y, desafortunadamente, no se hará suficientemente temprano.  Sin embargo, podemos renovar nuestro compromiso de buscar la justicia y la oportunidad para todos insistiendo en reformas exhaustas a las leyes de inmigración.  Les agradecería su ayuda con este asunto.

Nuestra comunidad necesitará tiempo para cerrar la brecha que este proceso, extremadamente emocional y difícil, ha dejado.  Por favor, expresen sus ideas sobre como salir adelante.  Tienen mi compromiso que voy a continuar siendo abierto y honesto con ustedes.

 

David Oxtoby

Presidente

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Oxtoby’s First Public Statement of Document Audit

To: The Pomona College Community

 

As you may have heard, the College yesterday asked a number of employees to meet with Human Resources regarding their personnel records. While I regret that confidential matters relating to personnel issues have become public, I think it is important to give the community a general overview of the situation to avoid misinformation.

Earlier this year, a complaint was made to the leadership of the College Board of Trustees accusing the administration of having a policy of not obtaining proper documentation from the College’s employees at the time of hire and alleging that no such verification of employees’ legal authorization to work was ever undertaken.

Given the serious nature of these allegations, the Board was obligated to investigate, and Board leaders engaged outside compliance experts to conduct an investigation. Because the allegations claimed this was a long-standing situation, the records of all Pomona College employees were reviewed to determine whether the College documentation process was effective and whether it had been followed. The College administration was not involved in conducting the investigation, other than to make information available as requested and to answer questions.

When the investigation was completed, the Board leadership concluded that the College’s procedures to verify and document the legal work-authorization of employees when hired are in compliance with the law and that there was no support for the allegations against the administration or the College.

However, some deficiencies were discovered in the documentation of some employees—among faculty, staff and part-time employees. The law requires that the College follow up with all such employees to re-verify their legal work status.

The 84 affected employees were notified by Human Resources and asked to schedule confidential one-on-one meetings to discuss the issue with their individual file. We are hopeful that these issues will be resolved, and we are working to do so as expeditiously as possible. In fact, some of these cases have already been resolved.

As we work toward a final resolution on this issue, I hope that everyone will remember that these are private personnel issues. In a community such as ours, where we place a high value on civil discourse and mutual respect, I call on everyone to reaffirm our fundamental principles of fairness and respect for the privacy of every individual.

 

David Oxtoby

President

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