Pomona College students, faculty, and staff took time to renew the relationships that connect the college by gathering at Marston Quad on Friday, Sept. 9, to participate in a community-building dinner. Envisioned and planned by Nicole Weekes, Associate dean and Professor of Neuroscience, the event aimed to cultivate unity, compassion, and discussion on campus.
Following dinner and music provided by campus radio station KSPC, the event began with a welcome by President David Oxtoby, who noted that the dinner was a “moment to step away from business as usual” and “begin a conversation with some seriousness and true intentionality about building community.”
Oxtoby reflected on the candlelight vigil for solidarity that occurred last Tuesday, as well as the insight ASPC president Christina Tong PO ’16 delivered to the Class of 2020 during the opening convocation. He reminded the Pomona community to rely on civility, inclusion, and respect for one another by mentioning two interconnected campus goals: supporting one’s peers while staying open to opinions that differ.
“Your voices matter now; your actions matter now,” he said. “Speak up in the months ahead visibly through votes [and] volunteer work, publicly through debates, or quietly or loudly through protests. In this moment, stay true to your own values and help us all to build and strengthen Pomona College as a community in which difference and empathy are celebrated and supported.”
Oxtoby’s talk was followed by a selection of videos. Each reflected the daily experiences of those within the Pomona community. Topics ranged from cultural appropriation and immigrant identity to race, stereotypes, and gender inequality.
“It was comforting knowing that I am in an institution that cares about such issues, given my identity. Being a female, black, international student, I felt like so much of what was spoken resonated deeply with me,” Valery Atieno Otieno PO ’20 said. “Of particular importance was when the notion of privilege was challenged and how in one way or the other, each and every one of us is privileged in some form. As such, it ought to be a joint community effort to ensure that everyone feels safe.”
The event ended with a showing of the motion picture Zootopia.