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Silence and Fear at Pomona College

November 18, 2011

Last week, activists send a petition to Pomona College to repeal its gag order that prohibits workers from talking to students in dining halls.

Now, Pomona College officials are demanding that some dining hall workers, along with some student employees and faculty, present documents authorizing them to work in the United States. And if they don't produce the documents by Dec. 1, they face termination, college officials say. Pomona College is reverifying work documents even though no federal agency has told them to do so."

Wednesday, students and dining hall workers held a press conference to decry this unwarranted investigation. Felipa Sanchez has been a cook at Pomona College for 23 years, and told the Los Angeles Times "Why now, after 23 years, are they doing this?"

We're not sure why the administration chose this moment to announce this immigration investigation, but Gilda Ochoa, Professor of Sociology and Chicana/o Latina/o Studies was quoted in the student paper: "We don't know intention, but we can look historically about various union busting tactics, and this is precisely one of those tactics. Because of that, it does foster intimidation [and] fear among union people."

Pomona College faculty passed a resolution criticizing the investigation Wednesday, saying

"We are concerned about the message this review of immigration status sends, particularly its effects on the College climate and our educational mission."

Pomona College's Sustainability Action Plan states:

"Pomona's goal is to serve food on campus that is healthy, fresh and delicious, and that is produced in a just and sustainable manner. The food climate at the College should be one in which food is not simply the fuel that energizes students, but also one that creates an environment of awareness and fosters an understanding about where food comes from, who produces it, how this is achieved, and the implications of the food choices consumers make every day."

A college community is not sustainable where workers risk being fired and students are escorted out of dining halls by campus security.

Call on Pomona College to repeal its gag rule and to stop the investigation into the work authorization status of Pomona community members.





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