Three years of advocacy by Pomona College’s Black Student Union came to fruition March 1 when the college administration gave them the green light on finally having a designated, physical space on campus.
“With this designation, Black Pomona students will finally have a dedicated space to laugh, learn and most importantly, thrive on [Pomona’s] campus,” BSU announced in a statement March 4.
The group extended their thanks to several academic departments who supported them during this process, as well as the Office of Black Student Affairs, according to the statement. Special thanks were also given to their club adviser Dr. Travis Brown, who initially helped the group come together.
“BSU is looking for a home base. A place to hold events, meetings, have a quiet place when needed, and they want it to feel like a place where they can be themselves. A space of their own that feels like home,” Brown said in an email to TSL.
The physical space — which will most likely be Smith Campus Center room 212, according to Brown — will come about in two phases: a “short term” phase that will exist while COVID-19 restrictions are still in place and a “long term” phase once restrictions are removed, according to the statement.
At present, the SCC is also the designated space for the FLI Nest and the Asian American Resource Center, which are communities for first-generation, low-income students and Asian American students respectively.
“Having a physical space where students can relax, decompress, laugh, maybe even cry and just for a time [to] be themselves will help students deal with the stresses being Black in Claremont can present,” Brown said.
BSU’s commitment to working towards improving the college experience of their community doesn’t stop here.
“We intend to keep the administration accountable for the Black space designation and will continue to work to progress the entire Black community in any way we can,” they told TSL via email.
In addition to advocating for a dedicated student space since June of last year, BSU put out a statement September 2020 calling on the administration to improve mental health resources specific to Black students’ needs.
The BSU requested that the college prioritize resources outside of Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services for Black students on campus. This included “Black social workers [and] therapists well-versed in racial conflict, trauma and justice” and creating a “clear and victim-centered accountability process for racial incidents” that occur on campus, according to the September statement.
They also called on Pomona to actively hire and recruit Black faculty, citing that there were 13 departments that did not include any Black professors at the time of the statement.
“If Black students do not see themselves represented in these environments, Black students will never feel comfortable and fully involved in the community,” BSU said in their September statement.