E-mails to Alumni Discourage Donations

An e-mail sent out to a large number of alumni the week of Oct. 11 called for a pledge campaign to withhold donations to Pomona College in response to the college’s dispute with Workers for Justice, drawing a rebuke from the college administration.

Pomona sent out an e-mail addressed to the “Pomona Community” in response to the original letter, which was signed by alumni Francisco Dueas ’99 and Vickie Ramos ’98. In the college’s e-mail, Alumni Relations Director Nancy Treser-Osgood wrote, “In recent weeks, a number of alumni have reported receiving unsolicited emails from supporters of a group called Workers for Justice (WFJ). We want to assure you that these e-mails were sent without Pomona’s knowledge and against our policies.”

The e-mail also explained the administration’s stance on the issue and provided a link to information about the issue on the college’s website.

Treser-Osgood said that the majority of the alumni who have contacted her regarding the letter have been “upset that they received the WFJ e-mail and were asking me how they got their e-mail addresses and wanted assurance that they would not be receiving further communications of that type.”

Treser-Osgood said that she responded to alumni concerned about their privacy by giving them the option to hide their contact information in the online directory. Alumni who opt to withhold their information would not be able to be contacted by other alumni but would still be accessible by the college. Treser-Osgood also said that her office is looking for ways to make the user agreement more secure and “less open to interpretation.”

“Only one person who had already donated this year said that he would be watching the issue, and that might impact his additional donations,” she added.

Treser-Osgood said she believed that “any alumni reaction that we’ve had has probably come in by now.” She also added that while she had heard various reasons for not donating over the course of her 21 years working at Pomona, this is the first time an issue and a call for withheld donations have been “linked in that way.”

Peris Castaneda PO ’11, a student caller for the Annual Fund’s Star 47, said she noticed that in the few weeks since Dueas and Ramos’ e-mail, “each week there was a growing number of alumni who had heard about the Workers for Justice.”

Castaneda estimated that about six or seven out of approximately 100 alumni she had spoken to over the last few weeks were refusing to donate because of the Workers for Justice issue.

“They tell me the reason why,” Castaneda said, “and a couple of alumni have also said, ‘pass this on to the administration, to whoever you can.’ They really want to get the word out to the administration that this is going to become a problem among alumni.”

She added that the alumni who brought up the issue seemed to be younger and also tended to emphasize community in the conversation.

“They stress that Pomona’s a community, and that’s what they’re really upset about, that Pomona would choose to take care of its students … look out for its students, its faculty, but not dining hall workers, who are also a part of the Pomona community,” Castaneda said.

As of press time, Peter Kuhns PO ’98 said that roughly 215 alumni have pledged to not donate to Pomona until the Workers for Justice issue has been resolved.

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