OCL Should Not Punish Students Retroactively

Three weeks ago, an unregistered party on Pomona’s South Campus took a turn for the worse when a first-year at the event was transported to a hospital for treatment for alcohol intoxication. In accordance with Pomona’s Good Samaritan policy, the Office of Campus Life (OCL) didn’t sanction the student who was transported or the student who reported the emergency (see article in News).

However, according to students involved in the incident, when other first-years who were present at the party were called into OCL to answer questions about the event, they were initially sanctioned for policy violations they admitted to committing at the party. While Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes later withdrew these sanctions after students and sponsors pushed back, this Editorial Board objects to the ambiguity of the protocol OCL uses to enforce policy retroactively.

According to members of RHS, OCL informed sponsors during training that they and their first-years should feel comfortable speaking to OCL about incidents involving policy violations without fear of being sanctioned. The initial decision by an OCL Campus Life Coordinator (CLC) to sanction students who spoke honestly about the event reflects a lack of consistency within OCL regarding policy enforcement.

Furthermore, Dean Townes’s decision to sanction students on a “case by case” basis—rather than clarifying the policy outright—discourages students from speaking honestly to OCL about incidents involving potential policy violations and creates an environment of distrust between students, RAs, and OCL.

As Dean Townes has made clear, it is the primary job of OCL to ensure the safety of Pomona students, even if that means overlooking policy violations so that students will report emergencies without fear of repercussions. This Editorial Board believes that the recent actions of OCL and the ambiguity of its policy regarding retroactive policy enforcement works counter to that mission. If Dean Townes is serious about ensuring that students feel comfortable speaking openly to OCL about incidents involving alcohol, he should make clear that no student will be punished retroactively for policy violations.

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