Tue, 17 Jan 2012

Open Letter to Pomona College President Oxtoby

— SjG @ 10:08 pm

Dear President Oxtoby,

Over the past year, I have been concerned to read unflattering reports in the media about Pomona College’s actions against the ongoing unionization efforts of the dining hall staff. Thus, when I began reading your letter of January 3rd, I was excited to see that you were going to risk discussing a political topic, and speak directly to the issue.

By the time I finished the first paragraph, however, my excitement turned to extreme disappointment. Reading the more detailed discussion on the college web site only deepened my dismay.

When I was a student at Pomona, intellectual honesty was held up as an essential value. To portray the current situation as one of immigration policy is disingenuous at best, and smacks of downright dishonesty. The accusations leveled against the college are extremely unsettling, and need to be addressed. Confronting employees’ work authorization and immigration policy is certainly part of that discussion, but you need to tackle the complete situation. The college’s position on employee unionization efforts needs to be clearly stated.

Beyond the need for unambiguous discussion, the College needs to operate in an above-board and honorable way. If the College chooses to oppose unionization, it absolutely must do so in a principled and ethical fashion.

I’m embarrassed that my alma mater is under investigation by the NLRB for unfair labor practices. I’m appalled that Pomona imposed a gag order on its students and employees. I’m ashamed that Pomona has become the kind of place where workers are made to feel that they need a union to protect themselves, and that it has become the kind of place that engages in union-busting.

Pomona College is better than this.

I would urge you think about what message the College’s recent actions send to the world. Do we really “bear our added riches in trust for all,” or does that sentiment not extend to the people who actually work at the college?

Samuel Goldstein

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