Editorial Board | March 9, 2013, 12:46 a.m.
Last week, TSL reported on the marketing initiative that Mark Neustadt of Neustadt Creative Marketing proposed Pomona College undertake in the years ahead.
“The students at Pomona do not follow through on passions and commitments, because follow-through would interfere with the prevailing culture," Neustadt said when he presented his findings and recommendations to the community last week. This was just one among several of his arguments for de-emphasizing the narrative that Pomona is a comfortable and fun environment for students.
Although the college has not made any official indication that it will pursue the branding strategy Neustadt outlined, this editorial board urges the leadership of Pomona College to consider carefully the ways in which it can best achieve its apparent goal of building a reputation focused on the college’s opportunities and challenging academics.
The robustness of the 5C divestment campaign is one indication that students at Pomona and at the other 5Cs are not—contrary to Neustadt’s assertion— rendered complacent by the enjoyable elements of the college.
In addition to the possible merits of divestment, the campaign represents the sort of initiative that could increase Pomona’s visibility nationwide, bolster our image as an exemplary liberal arts institution with an engaged student body, and demonstrate our capacity to follow through with meaningful action. Importantly, it would be a means to accomplish these aims with a substantive measure rather than through empty, cost-ineffective measures such as renovating the college mark, altering the content of prospective student tours, or cleaning up our advertising strategy.
We encourage Pomona’s administration to focus its resources on improving the college through serious reflection and thoughtful action rather than continuing with an effort to merely market ourselves as an ambitious, intellectually stimulating place. The college must align its internal practices with its desire to be perceived as productive and “daring” by taking the student divestment movement seriously, rather than dismissing it as unfeasible or unimportant. If we wish to demonstrate our resourcefulness, the school must employ its immense resources—rather than clinging to mere cosmetic adjustments—to defeat the obstacles currently standing in the way of divestment.