EDITORIAL BOARD: Pomona shutting out students, reporters from faculty grading meeting is unacceptable

With students dispersed around the globe due to COVID-19, the discussion of grading policies for the spring semester has recently become a heated, important topic among 5C students. 

With Pitzer College, Scripps College and Harvey Mudd College announcing their updated policies in the last week, Pomona College scheduled a 12 p.m. Zoom faculty meeting today to vote on a proposed motion to grade students on a universal pass/no record/incomplete basis.

Pomona’s faculty meetings are generally open to all students and TSL reporters. But after TSL staffers joined the meeting today at the invitation of Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr’s secretary, Starr asked all students, including TSL reporters, to leave, saying that the meeting was only open to voting members of the faculty. 

This is completely unacceptable.

In the last two weeks, Stephanie Navarro, Starr’s secretary, let a TSL reporter join three separate faculty meetings, before also sending the reporter today’s meeting invitation. Further, TSL received confirmation from Faculty Executive Committee member Dan O’Leary that reporters could attend remote faculty meetings.

“TSL has always been welcomed to our in-person faculty meetings in Rose Hills [Theatre], and I wouldn’t expect things to be different with online meetings, other than gaining access to the Zoom link and ensuring its respectful use,” O’Leary told a TSL reporter via email last Thursday. 

Starr defended her decision in an email to TSL later Wednesday. 

“As we had students from ASPC present at the first discussion, and given the heated nature of some discussions offline, I felt it was important that faculty be able to deliberate as a single body of the voting faculty,” she said.

This explanation completely misses the point, though. 

One of the main reasons discussions on this topic are heated is because students want to know what is going on. By banning student reporters from attending the meeting, the college only ensured that its students would be further uninformed and even more frustrated with the decision-making process.

This meeting clearly has gigantic implications for students’ courses and lives, both this semester and in the long term. Students have the right to know what the faculty are discussing, and how they reach their decisions, especially on this issue.

This article was updated April 15, 2020 at 4:18 p.m. to include a response from Pomona President G. Gabrielle Starr.

TSL’s editorial board is comprised of its editor-in-chief and two managing editors, and does not necessarily represent the views of other TSL staff members.

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