Pomona College has the ability to be socially responsible. In fact, Pomona has a responsibility to uphold moral and contractual obligations to not just those that attend this academic institution, but also the many people who work and teach here. Stand with Staff definitely got that right. Pomona is not a corporation, and we should not behave as one. We should not pursue efficiency over community, and we should not pursue frugality over responsibility. However, we think that Stand with Staff needs to take a step back from their own assumptions.
Pomona staff do need a voice on that campus. The Workers’ Support Committee has put a lot of effort into ensuring that workers get their voice, though there remains much to be done. That stated, Pomona does have a responsibility to its own future, and although we should not pursue frugality over responsibility, the college should always eliminate practices which are irresponsible with respect to our future.
We don’t advocate laying-off workers, however, Stand with Staff should not make their demands without regard to the impending financial situation of the college.
One of the Stand with Staff demands was for transparency. Transparency is required from all sides. The college should disclose the budget models, and Stand with Staff should examine the feasibility of their proposals.
We do need students to represent the voice of workers. We do need to defend their interests when no one else will. But the petition is symptomatic of a brand of activism too often found at Pomona. Stand with Staff will achieve much greater traction with decision-makers if their recommendations can be feasibly implemented by the college. This campaign should be about minimizing the effect on our most marginalized communities in a feasible, realistic way.