Two weeks ago, The Student Life and the ASPC Committee for Campus Climate and Diversity co-sponsored an event open to the entire Pomona College community where we discussed the role of this newspaper in issues of diversity on campus. Event attendees included TSL employees, members of the ASPC committee, and other interested Pomona students.
At the event, we discussed the meaning of diversity, ways to solicit opinions that are representative of the entire student body, and guidelines for promoting dialogue around controversial issues. We left the discussion with several ideas for improving our paper.
As we finalize our 11th and final issue of the semester, an issue that has put some of us at TSL through one of the most hectic weeks of our lives, we are reminded of that discussion. We are reminded of the articles and opinion pieces that spawned the conversations that eventually evolved into that discussion.
Some of those conversations were difficult to have, because we had to choose between providing a space for free speech and upholding our own values. But in our first Editorial Board of the semester, we made a pledge: to tell the stories that matter to you, and to foster dialogue, even about issues that make us uncomfortable. And as much as possible, we tried to stick to that pledge.
Over the past few weeks, there has been one story that’s generated more debate and made more people uncomfortable than any other: Pomona’s employment authorization reviews and the protests that have been held in response (see story in News). We expressed our opinion on the reviews in our Nov. 18 issue, and this week we’d like to pass that conversation on to our contributors (see Opinions).
But we would like to say this: there are few things more moving among the experiences we have had at Pomona than the sight of the faces of those students participating in the peaceful vigil outside Alexander yesterday, shortly after a handful of those students met with President David Oxtoby to request, without success, an extension of the 5 p.m. deadline for workers to reverify their documents.
This is a painful and emotional moment in Pomona’s history, and it no doubt warrants the anger that students, workers, alumni, and union organizers have expressed through boycotting Pomona’s dining halls over the past two days. It is also a shame that these boycotts may have in some cases intimidated some students approaching or entering the dining halls who would otherwise have no reason to oppose the workers and their cause.
The vigil, on the other hand, is entirely student organized. It is peaceful, quiet, and non-intrusive. Its message of frustration and sadness over the inability of the Pomona College leadership to manage this institution in a way that inspires trust and respect is clear and justifiable.
In the wake of the termination of 17 Pomona employees yesterday after they failed to reverify their documents, we praise the “concerned Pomona students” currently camped outside Alexander, who in their actions stand as a beacon of Sagehen pride on an otherwise shameful day.
The story does not end here. Follow our updates of the document reviews and protests online, and keep yourselves informed. Don’t stop asking questions, voicing your opinions, listening to those of others, and of course, reading The Student Life.