With the Apr. 8 e-mail casually titled “On-Campus Storage Announcement,” the administration dropped a huge bomb: no more on-campus storage for students. However, the explanation provided in the e-mail left something to be desired. The anonymous author argues that the “added responsibility” of supervising summer storage “requires a lot of time and energy from housekeeping staff, ” and “without [the housekeepers’] involvement,” on-campus storage will no longer be possible. However, while this argument seems to imply that members of the housekeeping staff are no longer willing to work extra hours, it is never explicitly stated that staff chose to opt out. And given the number of complaints about lack of hours provided to Pomona College staff, there could very well be many members of the housekeeping staff who would be glad to take on additional paid hours. While the e-mail seems to be attempting to tap into a culture of uproar over mistreatment of staff, the assertion that the housekeeping staff do not want more work hours is an unlikely explanation.
The e-mail also seems to have been written in deliberately vague language in an attempt to shirk responsibility. In introducing the policy change, the e-mail states, “We have learned” of this new policy. The use of passive voice here is troubling. Were they unsure who had suggested the policy change, or was it being forced on them against their will? As the e-mail was unsigned and instead allocated responsibility more generally to the Office of Campus Life (OCL) and the Facilities and Campus Services, this deferral of responsibility is especially problematic. Additionally, the e-mail explains the policy change by stating that the school is “no longer able to provide consistent service with regard to the college storage rooms.” This use of vague language more closely resembles an attempt at obfuscation than honest explanation.
Furthermore, the change in policy itself is disconcerting due to the added financial burden of anywhere between $70 and $275 per student (although students would not have known this from the e-mail, as the brief list of storage facilities provided at the end of the e-mail was not accompanied by any price information). And given the unexpected financial impact that this will have on students going abroad in the fall semester, the short notice given for this change in policy is especially inconvenient. Students were not even afforded an apology anywhere in the text of the e-mail. Sure, on-campus storage is a privilege to which Pomona students should not feel entitled, but the elimination of such a service mere weeks before the end of the semester is exasperating.Overall, OCL and the Facilities and Campus Services should have made a better effort to communicate with students both about what prompted this change and about the options that students now face. Additionally, someone should have taken responsibility for what will amount to a frustrating time and financial commitment for students. If the reasoning behind the policy change is due to a budgetary concern from the college, then the change would have been understandable, though inconvenient. But assigning blame to the housekeeping staff and, in doing so, shirking responsibility for an unpopular decision does not reach the level of communication deserved by students. Administrators from the OCL and the Facilities and Campus Services owe students an explanation, and this time, it should be signed.