Let’s Connect With Those Around Us

Although there
are ongoing efforts to connect 5C students to the broader communities
that envelop the consortium, we believe that many students are still most concerned
with their peers and professors, at the expense of relationships with other
staff members and the off-campus community.

Last week, TSL ran several pieces focused on the staff
of the Claremont Colleges. For the News section, staff writer Carlos
Ballesteros profiled two of the workers at Claremont McKenna College’s Collins
Dining Hall in “The American Dream at CMC,” part of a larger series on 5C staff. In the Opinions section, guest
contributor Nicholas Sundback argued that Pomona College’s housekeeping staff
deserve a higher wage (“Pay Them What They’re Worth”). 

We welcomed Sundback’s effort to draw attention to the workers who, often silently, play such a significant role in shaping the experience of these liberal arts colleges. For the same reason, we intend to continue publishing profiles of individual staff members. These members of our community deserve greater recognition for their contributions to our lives.

Of course, that’s not to say that all students at the 5Cs fail to appreciate or get to know staff members. Stories of closeness between members of the P-P football team and the late Leticia Fuentes speak to that, and we’re aware that many students have formed valuable bonds with staff members—and we commend them for this!

But we believe there could be many more such relationships formed, and many students would do well to get to know staff members, to share experiences and stories with all the people who belong to our community. 

These staff members are also members of the larger communities we mentioned before,
and in that respect they are living links to the lands beyond the bubble.
Despite the efforts of Pomona’s Draper Center and similar organizations,
including a slew of tutoring groups that place 5C students in local schools, we
still find that many students are unaware or even dismissive of the cities and
towns that surround our idyllic campuses. But on-campus events provide one antidote to this apathy.

The Rockabilly Festival at Pitzer College, which we covered April 4 in the Life & Style section (“Rockabilly Festival Showcases Latino/a Cultural History”), is a great example of an event
that drew attendees from outside the Claremont Colleges as well as students. This weekend’s International Day at CMC and No-Chella at Pomona (see music columnist Gage Taylor’s preview on page 9) also
reliably bring community members to campus. All three, and numerous other
events like them, provide casual, fun environments for students to meet local
residents. Still, it often seems that even at those events, students continue to avoid such
interactions.

While TSL will continue to promote a greater understanding of the on-campus staff members and off-campus
communities that shape the Claremont consortium, the initiative will inevitably
fall to students in the end. Our administrations already make a habit of
addressing announcements to “students, faculty, and staff”—how often have you
heard a student describe the people they interact with using the same phrase? Students
must make a deliberate effort to increase their consciousness of the individuals
in our midst and around us who too often go unnoticed. 

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