Tag Archives: The Student Life

The Student Life: César Chávez Day Rally Draws Hundreds in Support of Workers

From The Student Life: Link to original article


Hundreds of students, workers, immigrant rights advocates and union organizers gathered at Pomona College on March 30 in support of the dining hall workers’ efforts to unionize. The rally, which came in the wake the controversial firing of 17 Pomona employees in December, was organized by Workers for Justice (WFJ), UNITE-HERE Local 11 and other labor groups.

The protesters called for the Pomona administration to rehire the 17 fired workers and to commit to neutrality in WFJ’s union-organizing campaign. UNITE HERE Local 11 leaders estimated that more than 800 supporters attended the rally.

“Today is César Chávez day, which is a special day, and that’s why we want to highlight that what he stood for was to protect all workers, no matter their immigration status, and to do the right thing,” said Tom Walsh, President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “We believe it was wrong for the college to respond in this way. It’s gone against all the traditions of Pomona College.”

The event culminated in what the organizers called a “Dining Hall in the Streets,” with lunch cooked and served by union members from outside Claremont. It also included a march from Shelton Park in the village to campus, musical performances and speeches by WFJ supporters and Congresswoman Judy Chu, Democrat of California. Continue reading

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The Student Life: Why I Won’t Donate to the Senior Gift

From The Student Life: Link to original article


It has been three long and hard years of dance parties, keg stands and occasional studying, and we, the Class of 2012, have finally made it to the almost mystical time we only dreamed about as first-years: our senior year. For all of our countless hardships, we are rewarded by Pomona College with an amount of food, drink and ritual merrymaking so extravagant and exorbitant it could begin to make even Dionysus jealous. But these new bonuses are not free of stipulations; as seniors, we have two main responsibilities: to graduate as soon as possible and to cultivate a healthy habit of handing over portions of our future paychecks to the school’s annual fund, starting with the senior gift. The senior gift is described as a way to give back to and thank Pomona for all the “life-shaping educational opportunities” it has given us. And while this money does go toward academic programming, scholarships and student life, it is important to remember that it takes an entire community to create the experiences we have had here and that this community includes all workers, staff, faculty and students. Because this college does not treat all members of our community, especially its most marginalized ones, equally and with respect, I am committed to refuse to donate to the senior gift and urge all of you to think critically about your decision to donate as well. Continue reading

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The Student Life: WFJ and UNITE HERE Rally Against Pomona Board of Trustees

From The Student Life: Link to original article


Demonstrators gathered outside Pomona College’s Smith Campus Center Feb. 24 to show solidarity with the 17 Pomona employees fired in December when they could not produce immigration documents by the college’s deadline, and to support Workers for Justice, the pro-union group of Pomona dining hall workers. The event was scheduled to coincide with the Trustee-Faculty Retreat in Rancho Palos Verdes.

“We wanted to make sure that, as the Board of Trustees are in the greater area, that we sent a message that the people who really embody the values of Pomona and care about the values that the trustees purport to care about are workers, alums, students and faculty, and that we’re the community that is Pomona,” said Robin Rodriguez, an organizer for UNITE HERE Local 11, a southern California affiliate of UNITE HERE, a union representing workers throughout North America.

The organization of the event was a collaborative effort by WFJ, students and UNITE HERE Local 11. A group of supporters started the event by marching down Sixth Street, turning on College Avenue and ending on the lawn in front of the Smith Campus Center. Continue reading

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The Student Life: Religious Leaders Support Workers with Vigil

From The Student Life: Link to original article


Students of the Claremont Colleges, past and present Pomona dining hall workers and members of the local community gathered Feb. 22 for a vigil to support the 17 Pomona employees fired in December and to show solidarity for the unionization efforts ahead.

The vigil was scheduled to coincide with Ash Wednesday. It began with a welcome by Reverend Karen Sapio from the local Claremont Presbyterian Church, followed by Bible readings from several Pomona students, Reverend Dr. David Cortes-Fuentes from the Emmanuel Hispanic Presbyterian Church in Claremont and Father Peter O’Reilly from the Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Claremont.

The event ended with a ceremony to mark participants’ foreheads with ashes, which served as, “a pledge to work together despite difficulties, sometimes failure,” O’Reilly said. Participants also recited quotes from famous past labor organizers such as César Chávez. Continue reading

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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 Student Life: Flaws in Board of Trustees Call for Reforms

From The Student Life: Link to original article


Perhaps the most generous observation one might make about last semester’s documentation controversy is that it generated a great deal of conversation. From passionate TSL articles to Facebook diatribes to protest movements, I have never seen the entirety of the Pomona community as engaged as it was in the aftermath of the abrupt termination of 17 members of the Pomona College staff. Unfortunately, despite all of that engagement and conversation, I don’t think that our campus ever came to a consensus about the legal and ethical requirements of the situation—and I rather doubt that we will. The situation is still too unclear, the emotions too raw and the legal situation too vague for common ground to be reached easily (or maybe at all).

In light of the above analysis and the fact that the Board has already made its final decision on the matter, I recommend that we, the student body, set aside our ongoing disagreements about the particulars of the situation for the time being. I suggest we set it aside not to forget about it, but to focus on an underlying issue that the ugly events of last semester brought to the surface: the transparency, accountability and legitimacy of the Board of Trustees. Continue reading

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The Student Life: Where Things Stand with Dining Hall Workers

From The Student Life: Link to original article


After the tumultuous events of last semester, an eerie calm has settled over the Pomona College campus. Aside from Frank Dining Hall’s closure on the weekends, there is not much evidence to attest to the firing of 17 college employees and the unprecedented protests, debates, and meetings that ensued. Even the grass in front of Alexander Hall has grown back. Yet for those 17 employees—and, I’m sure, many other students, staff, and faculty—the memories are still fresh. The “new normal” that has enveloped the campus may leave some to think that nothing came out of last semester’s event, but this is not the case. 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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The Student Life: Trustees Review Audit, Communication

From The Student Life: Link to original article


The Pomona College Board of Trustees has opened a series of internal reviews and set up a task force on communication between students and trustees, prompted by the controversial document checks that cost 17 Pomona employees their jobs last semester.

Members of the Trustee-Student Task Force on Campus Community Communication, charged with developing ways to create better exchanges of information between Pomona students and trustees, said they plan to submit their recommendations to the Board of Trustees by the end of this month. Continue reading

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The Student Life: Frank Remains Closed on Weekends

From The Student Life: Link to original article


Pomona College’s Frank Dining Hall will remain closed on weekends until further notice, Dining Services wrote in an e-mail to the Pomona community Thursday. Frank was initially expected to revert to normal hours by the end of January, but the dining hall is still understaffed after the termination of 16 dining hall employees in December.

“Many of the workers we lost were high-level cooking professionals who were critical to the operation,” the e-mail said.

South Campus Representative Nick Lawson PO ’14 said that four of the college’s six highly-experienced Class Three chefs were terminated.

“We’ve been told that they have found two more, but I’m not sure if anyone has been hired yet,” said Lawson, who sits on the Food Committee.

“There are lots of applicants but not a lot of experience,” said Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes, also a member of the Food Committee.

The e-mail does not say when Frank is expected to return to its normal schedule.

“It is most certainly going to be closed until spring break and possibly later,” Lawson said. “They closed it on weekends with the expectation that they can get enough employees for it to open after [spring] break, but we’ll wait to reevaluate then.”

Lawson said the difficulty the college is having in the search for experienced chefs is unlikely a result of the college’s controversial decision to terminate employees who could not verify their employment documentation by a December deadline.

“That would be hard to believe, considering the amount of applications we got,” he said.

Frary Dining Hall will be open for extended hours on weekends and extra outdoor seating will be provided until Frank reopens.

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