Senate Briefs 11/14/11

A Review of the Reviews

President David Oxtoby visited Senate this week to discuss the employment authorization document reviews currently taking place on campus. According to Oxtoby, the Board of Trustees received an allegation from an employee of Pomona College (but not a member of the administration), that Oxtoby and his administration were not obtaining proper documentation when hiring new workers. An investigation into the allegations revealed that Oxtoby’s administration is not guilty of what it was charged with, but it did reveal that there were problems of deficient documentation for some workers that, by law, needed to be addressed. As a result, Oxtoby has been handed the unenviable job of managing the process of reviewing authorization documents, which he said he wants to do in the most “thoughtful, humane, and confidential” way possible. He added that if the employees whose documents are deficient (84 in all) do not present valid papers to the Office of Human Resources (HR) before Dec. 1, there is a possibility that these individuals will be fired. However, they would be treated as being terminated “not for cause,” which means they would be eligible to receive some sort of severance package. Oxtoby added that the documentation reviews have “absolutely no relation to” the campaign for unionization that some workers have been involved in.

Mullaney Mulls It Over

After Oxtoby’s introduction, he opened the floor to questions. Commissioner of Communications Will “Tough Cookie” Mullaney PO ’12 raised his hand first, questioning Oxtoby about allegations that Oxtoby hand-delivered letters to only half the employees affected by the reviews and, similarly, that he informed only some of the employees about the Dec. 1 deadline. Oxtoby responded by saying that he never personally handed a letter to anyone, nor did he personally tell anyone that there were any problems with his or her employment status.

Leslie FTW

As the discussion unfolded, Vice President for Finance Leslie Appleton PO ’12 accurately pointed out that the whole thing was, for lack of a better term, a “s— situation”. According to Oxtoby, the law ties the college’s hands, since if a federal agency ever decided to investigate the college, and documents were found to be deficient, people could “lose [their] jobs and be deported.” To assist in the document review process, Oxtoby said the college has offered to provide legal assistance to employees free-of-charge, and these lawyers would not report back to the college. Employees are also welcome to consult with their own lawyers, but they were not allowed to bring their own lawyers with them to their meetings with HR last week. Oxtoby explained this last policy by pointing out that meetings between employees and HR have always been one-on-one to help ensure confidentiality, and that the HR representatives didn’t have lawyers either. Does HR really need its own lawyers?

practice Makes Perfect

After thanking Oxtoby for his time, Senate discussed what role it should have in the document review process. Vice President for Campus Activities theory friction practice PO ’12 argued that if the role of the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) is to represent students, then Senate should gauge “how students feel about it generally.” Commissioner for Academic Affairs William Loyd Gamber PO ’13 suggested that it might be useful to present some sort of document to students that covers the facts of the incident, since there is “a lot of misinformation going around about this.”

An Appel A Day Keeps the Document Reviews Away

Commissioner of Community Relations Sarah Appelbaum PO ’13 argued that it was not the job of Senate to provide more information, but she suggested that Senate write some sort of resolution supporting the entire Pomona community and acknowledging that even if the actions the college takes have a legal precedent, they may be detrimental to the community as a whole. She was adamant that it would be inappropriate for Senate to align itself with Workers for Justice (WFJ), the pro-union group of dining hall workers, but she said it would be equally inappropriate for Senate not to say anything at all. President Nate Brown PO ’12 suggested that any senator interested in drafting such a resolution (or Senate Speaks column for TSL, if they can get their act together) should write it and send it around to the group. To be continued…

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