To: The Claremont Colleges Consortium
Sponsored by: Concerned Pomona College Students
Topic: Allowing Pomona College to Amicably Secede from the Claremont Consortium
I cannot but believe that we shall need here in the South [of California] a suburban educational institution of the range of Stanford.
– President James A. Blaisdell, Pomona College, October 1923
PETITION FOR THE SECESSION OF POMONA COLLEGE FROM THE CLAREMONT CONSORTIUM
ACKNOWLEDGING that the Claremont Consortium has provided excellent academic opportunities to hundreds of thousands of undergraduate students since 1925.
RECOGNIZING that Pomona’s 63 buildings and 140+ acres offer students both a beautiful campus and a close-knit community of scholars committed to bettering themselves and their school.
AFFIRMING that Pomona’s choice to offer more than 47 majors to her students as well as 49 study abroad programs in 32 countries allow students to follow their own unique academic path and learn about our global community in a variety of ways.
REMINDING fellow students that Pomona College was established in 1887, thirty-nine years before the next College [Scripps] and seventy-six years before the last College [Pitzer].
NOTING with concern that in the American Liberal Arts College rankings published by U.S. News and World Report in Fall 2013 Pomona College was ranked 4th while Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Scripps College, and Pitzer College were ranked 9th, 18th, 25th, and 35th, respectively.
We, a group of concerned Pomona College students representing many age, class, racial, and economic groups have come to the conclusion that in order for our fine alma mater to reach her maximum potential, she must step back and reassess her role in the consortium. We are current Pomona students who strongly believe that the College should secede from the Consortium. While originally a mutually beneficial arrangement, the Consortium no longer functions as the cohesive body it was meant to be. We mean no disrespect to our esteemed consortium brothers and sisters when we say it’s time for us to distance ourselves so that we have the opportunity to truly succeed on an international level. And as many of you already know and as we have heard discussed in no uncertain terms among our fellow students, there are several practical reasons why Pomona should reestablish itself as an independent institution. If Pomona College is able to function so well as part of a unit, imagine how much we could do if we faced the ultimate challenge: striking out on our own.
We’ve had a wonderful run as a Consortium, but when it comes down to it we often don’t work as one cohesive unit. Cross-registering at other colleges is often no easy feat and Pomona students are often denied from courses on their own campus as spots are reserved for students from the other schools. Not to mention Pomona hosts more unique majors than the other schools combined (with the exception of Pitzer’s “create-your-own” option) which encourages students to major “off-campus” or to major at Pomona. This means that Pomona advisors and resources are squandered on students who ultimately won’t even graduate with a Pomona degree. The dry weeks and drug/alcohol policies do not align, the parking systems are different, and there are different standards of excellence between the five colleges. While we all excel in our own arenas, it seems that our common mission no longer unites us enough to make staying a member college a feasible option.
Though we are loathe to sound pretentious (a quality many of us are often accused of), Pomona is clearly separate from the rest of the Consortium – we have our own world class resources and distinct culture. For every dining hall each of our peer institutions has, we have three. And of the Colleges’ academic departments, be it philosophy or computer science, we have a tendency to draw some of the most experienced and educated professors in the nation. Yet we have come to feel that our relationship with the Consortium is more ‘give’ than ‘give and take.’ We believe that, given the chance, we might prosper if all of Pomona’s resources, talents, and options were granted to Pomona College students exclusively.
Fellow Sagehens, we must rally together and take action. It is not an easy topic to discuss, especially because we fear we may unintentionally offend our friends at the other Consortium schools. But it is what we believe to be our best option. We must speak with our respective ASPC representatives and bring up the issue to President Oxtoby as well as the Board of Trustees and other relevant administrative groups. Sign the change.org petition listed below and share it with your friends on social media. The time is now to begin a new chapter in Pomona history, one that the Sagehens – and the Sagehens alone – will be proud of.
ARTICLE I: RESOURCES
Of the campus resources shared amongst the Consortium, it is abundantly clear that Pomona shoulders more than her fair share of the burden and contributes more in monetary resources, staffing, and campus real estate. The Asian American Resource Center, The Queer Resource Center, the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company, the Outdoor Education Center, KSPC, the Women’s Union, and the SCC Student Activities Office are all located on Pomona’s campus and staffed primarily – if not entirely – by faculty and staff hired and maintained by Pomona College. Yet all these valuable resources are available to all five campuses, and in some cases all seven, despite the main financial contributions coming from Pomona College. We would never argue that these invaluable opportunities and spaces are not important to every 5C student, rather that the option to facilitate and foster the kind of discussion our resources provide on our campus would undoubtedly be beneficial to other colleges. What better way to force yourself to reassess the social, political, and racial climate on the other four campuses than to allow them to create their own centers, clubs, and support systems?
ARTICLE II: ATHLETICS
One of the things we are most proud of about our alma mater is the high standard it holds us to in both academics and athletics. We may be hardworking students and diligent learners, but when it comes to athletics we know how to leave it all behind us in the classroom. In SCIACS for the 2012-2013 year Pomona-Pitzer’s men’s team placed third overall while the women’s placed fourth. While we are well aware that we could not have gotten this far without the help of our brothers and sisters from Pitzer, we acknowledge that it may be time to strike out on our own.
Let’s take, for example, the men’s water polo team. Of the 22-man roster, exactly half are Pomona students. However, when you calculate how much each individual put into the team’s combined success it’s clear that Pomona students carry the lead. Out of a total 310 goals scored in the 2013 season 190, or 61.3% were scored by Pomona students. Of a total of 345 saves made by PP goalies, 273 were contributed by Pomona athletes meaning they boast 79.1% of all team saves.
At the SCIAC Cross Country Championship meet, three members of the Pomona-Pitzer team made it into the top fifteen finishing times; all three of those athletes were Pomona College students. The results for the Women’s cross country team were similar; both of the PP athletes to make it to the top 15 places were Pomona students.
But the tradition of Pomona students leading the Sagehens spans multiple sports. Since 1986 three Pomona-Pitzer Major Sports Awards for Most Valuable Athlete Award, Athletic Excellence Award, and Scholar Athlete Award have been awarded to deserving students every year. In 2012, of the seven scholar-athletes to receive these awards all but one were Pomona seniors.
There is also the question of facilities. While Pitzer’s contributes only the Gold Student Center (host of a “fitness room”), Pomona students and athletes have opened up the doors of the Rains Center and athletic fields including five basketball courts, four racquetball courts, two squash courts, a weight room, an exercise room, 2 pools, 2 tennis court complexes, a football field, a track, a softball field, a baseball field, and four fields for soccer, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee, and field hockey.
In order to grow beyond its current boundaries and develop into an internationally recognized bastion of true liberal arts education, Pomona College must shed her ties to the consortium, a project of her own design. Moving forward, Pomona’s development must focus on Pomona’s needs and the needs of her students.
What makes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn and the other Ivies world class while Pomona college is often confused with her Calpoly affiliate? The Harvards and Princetons and Yales offer an exclusive academic and alumni network experience unique to their institutions and unavailable to any other center of higher learning. If Pomona is to rank among this tier of establishments she must preserve HER resources for HER students.
Harvard does not offer its courses to students who were not admitted to Harvard but to a school five ranks below it. It stands to reason that Pomona ought to practice the same policy if she wants to assume the mantle of a top tier academic institution and provide a unique and competitive brand of higher education. Here at Pomona, we students work hard, and we deserve and demand that our certificates reflect that prestige and command that same respect.
”Build towards the future”
Furthermore, imagine a Pomona that had full autonomy over her physical and institutional resources. Without having to accommodate non-Pomona students, our school gains a heretofore infeasible capacity for expansion and enrichment. A dedicated library, designed with Pomona student’s characteristic, distinctly Pomona-esque learning styles in mind, could deliver academic and scholarly resources like tutoring, databases, MCAT, GRE and LSAT prep sessions, all specifically tailored to the rigor and diversity of a Pomona student’s educational paths and career goals. Frary, Frank, the Coop might finally focus on Pomona students, become more responsive to their needs, hours, and requests in order to best facilitate their health, well-being, and entertainment.
Historic Bridges Auditorium, the Smith Campus Center, Skyspace, and the Pomona Art Museum might provide events and exhibits dedicated to Pomona students, run by Pomona clubs and societies, and use Pomona’s unique resources, alumni network, and endowments to enrich the artistic and creative experience of the Pomona student body. President Oxtoby and the Board of Directors have emphasized an expansion of opportunities for art and creation here at Pomona, key areas of the liberal arts that have been deprioritized at the rest of the consortium. Thus Pomona ought to focus its resources in this area on her students in particular, rather than squander her wealth on an unappreciative consorted campus. These services need not be completely restricted from the other campuses, merely dedicated to Pomona students first, with non-Pomona students granted equal access but only to separately organized, “common” functions.
“A Matter of Culture”
Pomona, the oldest, largest, highest-ranked institution begat the consortium and now she must take her leave from it. Ultimately it comes down to a problem of incompatible cultures, both institutionally and betwixt the student bodies.Though we bear the consortium no ill will it simply cannot be denied that Pomona has always had a unique culture, distinct from its compatriots. We enjoy qualities, habits, diversions and traditions peculiar to our school and history. These fragile flowers cannot flourish in a shared garden.
Therefore, is it not time for our peculiar institution to grow unbeholden to our partners to the North?
If Pomona College is to effectively grow; to proudly stand not as “Harvard of the West,” but a school of high caliber, a school renowned for her own unique qualities and skills, a school that needs no comparison, then secession is our only option. If she is to be taken seriously as a pillar of the culturally and academically elite strata of these United States, then she must stand alone.
If you, like us, believe that we as a college would be in a better position to succeed if we seceded from the Claremont Consortium and focused our attention inwards, please let us know of your support by signing our petition to the Board of Trustees. If you would like to join the discussion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you for taking the time to read our petition. We thank you for your support, questions or contributions.
by The Golden Antlers Staff
Concept by Ender Wiggin CMC ’15, Writing: Clancy Tripp CMC ’15, Dante Toppo CMC ’15, Christie Kweon SCR ’15