Dozens of Pomona students identifying as “a group of marginalized students who have not been served by Pomona College” presented a list of demands to President David Oxtoby last night, Nov. 17, calling for greater institutional and administrative support from their college.
The students set forth the following demands: issuing a statement in solidarity with CMCers of Color, who led a protest at Claremont McKenna College last week calling for greater institutional support for students belonging to marginalized groups; implementing or improving resource centers and/or cultural spaces; increasing the quality and funding for mental health resources at Pomona; and pledging to increase faculty diversity, both in terms of academic departments and the faculty themselves.
Pomona College students entered the 9 p.m. meeting with President David Oxtoby and the President’s Advisory Committee on Diversity (PACD) to present the demands. Following an initial statement, students present at the meeting aired their grievances with the Pomona administration for nearly two hours, citing examples of insensitivity and lack of diversity on behalf of the administration, including the faculty, Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services and the financial aid office.
After students were finished speaking, Associated Students of Pomona College President Nico Kass PO ’16 announced that the students presenting the demands did not intend to leave the room until Oxtoby signed the demands.
Oxtoby then signed the document, noting that he intended to release a statement of solidarity with CMCers of Color by this Friday, Nov. 20, and offer a “detailed response” to the students’ demands on Monday, Nov. 23.
Before the group of students presenting the demands entered the room, Oxtoby had set forth three goals addressing some, but not all, of the students’ demands. He pledged to set aside a day for all students of the Claremont Colleges to talk about diversity issues, increase the funding allotted to Monsour and the diversity of counselors, and create a space on campus for first generation and undocumented students.
The complete list of demands as presented to PACD can be found below.
We, a group of marginalized students who have not been served by Pomona College, demand that President Oxtoby support and implement the following:
I: Statement of solidarity with CMCers of Color
We demand that Pomona College’s President, David Oxtoby, invoke his power and leadership at the Claremont Colleges by releasing a public statement of support and solidarity for “CMCers of Color.” Pomona College, as an institution, should acknowledge the validity of their demands for institutional change, which include but are not limited to: a permanent Resource Center by Spring 2016, student representation in hiring the next CMC Dean of Students, and hiring a CMC Diversity and Inclusivity Chair.
Although CMC is a separate college, we exist as interconnected institutions. We are all part of the Claremont Colleges—we have peers at CMC and we take classes at CMC. Pomona must be held accountable because we are all affected by this larger campus culture and institutionalized racism.
With this in mind, Pomona should also publicly state that campus protests, in all forms, are legal and legitimate and that any policy outlawing them invalidates the legitimacy of challenging established power structures. Without this, we as a consortium community are complicit in the oppression of marginalized students, staff and faculty.
This formal commitment and statement must explicitly use language that will directly acknowledges the inequities that exist within these institutions and that legitimizes the experiences of marginalized communities by recognizing the different systemic factors that contribute to their oppression. Explicitly, this means that the terms “marginalization,” “institutional racism,” “failure to support,” and “violence” should be present in this statement.
II: Resource Centers
We demand that each affinity group has a personal meeting with President Oxtoby to discuss our individual, unique needs and struggles for the creation or improvement of cultural spaces (or the reassessment thereof). These meetings will begin this Friday, November 20, 2015, and will be weekly with a different affinity group. President Oxtoby is to reach out to campus communities listed (and unlisted) below to schedule these meetings.
These affinity groups are defined as:
•Indigenous and Native American students
•Black and African Diaspora students
•Any other affinity groups that feel the need for a meeting
There are countless accounts in which the resources in their present states have failed many marginalized students. There is a disconnect between many of the staff members of these offices, which means these students are further marginalized. Therefore, creating or assigning these liaison positions will create institutional accountability in regards to the experiences of marginalized students.
III: Mental Health Resources
We demand an active and formal commitment to allocate and increase funds for Monsour and other mental health resources so that students who request counseling have the opportunity to receive it as needed, especially for urgent cases. The college should provide upfront payment of copays for off-campus resources, effective immediately. We expect an analysis of how much each college contributes to Monsour yearly, where funding is allocated, and a solution on how to address the current problem to be provided by 11/24/15. The hiring process of full time counselors who are specially trained in queer and trans mental health issues should begin by 01/19/16. Sensitivity training for all current counselors and staff must be completed by 01/19/16.
Pomona College, in partnership with institutions within the consortium, should prioritize the timeliness and quality of counseling that students both need and deserve. We demand that Pomona College and the Claremont University Consortium increase the number of counselors who identify as persons of color and LGBTQ+ to reflect the diversity of the campuses so that all communities can best be served. We expect the hiring process to begin on 01/19/16.
Separately, Pomona College must hire a confidential advisor for survivors who can foremost support survivors and also direct to various resources, arrange accommodations, explain the school’s disciplinary procedure, and guide them through the adjudication process. We expect the hiring process to begin on 01/19/16.
IV: Diversity of students, staff, faculty, and curriculum
We demand the following: starting with the 2025-2026 academic year, at least half of all tenure-track position openings must be offered to underrepresented minorities; by the 2017-2018 academic year, a program coordinator must be hired to implement measures to increase representation among faculty and the curriculum, including the establishment of a Disability Studies and a Native American and Indigenous Studies department; and there must be an increase of student representation in the initial candidate vetting process for hirings of new faculty.