The following is a report on the major actions of the 2011-12 ASPC. It is meant as a reference and guide for future Senators and anyone who is interested.
The 2011-12 year at Pomona was very eventful, both for the Associated Students of Pomona College and for the community at large. Here are a few of the ASPC initiatives, projects, and accomplishments from the past year that I would like to highlight.
The biggest campus-wide issue of the year was certainly the document check and subsequent terminations of 17 employees of the college, nearly all of them dining hall workers. It would be impossible to effectively and succinctly summarize the issue in this space, so please check issues of The Student Life for extensive coverage and background on the events if you are unfamiliar. Unfortunately, there was a limited amount of effective action that ASPC could take as a body at the time of the firings. Furthermore, Senators were divided on the best course of action and on the tone with which to engage the administration and the Board of Trustees – the group that had initiated the document check and firings. However, around the time of the terminations, ASPC set up a forum between students and President Oxtoby, which over 100 students attended. We also released a couple of resolutions. One of which – a general statement of support for the workers – mirrored a similar resolution that the faculty had passed. The second was a statement that called on the Board of Trustees to release their internal report on the events leading up to the firings as soon as it was finished, a request with which the Trustees complied – releasing the report a day after Commencement.
The more important work that ASPC did on this issue happened during the second semester. Many students, including Senators and organized groups like Concerned Pomona Students, were disappointed and frustrated by the existing channels of communication with the Board of Trustees, problems and limitations that had become quite clear as the terminations were taking place. A trustee-student task force was set up to suggest improvements to the relationship between students and trustees. Some of the proposed changes that were accepted by the full Board included more students sitting on Trustee committees, better feedback mechanisms for students to comment on Trustee decisions, and more opportunities for formal and informal interaction between Trustees and students. The reactions of students on the committee to the conversations and adopted changes were mixed. Some students on the committee felt disappointed that the changes did not go far enough, and much of the final product of the task force felt like a compromise. ASPC’s role in improving the relationship of students and trustees will certainly be a continuing project, and several of the adopted changes will definitely help this project.
Internally, ASPC completely updated our online presence. We revamped the website; changing its design, making it more secure, and adding or reviving services that are very beneficial to students like Housing Reviews and Sagebooks. We put much more information about the Senate and its week-to-week operations online, as well as information about on-campus dining options and businesses in the village.
We made a couple big changes and improvements to the Coop Store, including a major renovation and expansion as well as a new website. The website (at coopstore.pomona.edu) will enable us to better sell merchandise to prospective students, alumni, parents, etc… and will hopefully increase ASPC revenues. The renovation and expansion will increase the offerings of the Coop Store, adding certain groceries and a wider variety of products. The 2010-11 Senate had voted on the renovation, but was too late to get the project moving during the summer of 2011. This year’s Senate organized the expansion of that proposed renovation, and it is on schedule to be completed before the Fall 2012 semester begins.
We also finalized the negotiations of a loan agreement between ASPC and the college. The project had been initiated by the 2010-11 Senate as a sort of good-will partnership, but the details had not been finalized. We loaned the college $75,000 at a 5% rate over 5 years to replace the lighting system in Big Bridges with state of the art LED lights. This loan helped to diversify ASPC’s investments, and it allowed us to give back to the Pomona community while increasing the size of our reserves. Once the loan is paid back to ASPC, hopefully future Senates will continue this program of loaning money to the college for sustainability projects.
The Student Affairs Committee of the Faculty, with representation from certain Senators, made changes to the sexual misconduct policy and bicycle policy on campus. The ‘standard of evidence’ in sexual misconduct cases was changed from ‘clear and convincing’ to ‘preponderance of evidence’ due to a directive by the federal government. While the change was relatively straightforward, it prompted other conversations about Pomona’s sexual misconduct policy and judicial board procedures. These conversations, and expected changes to the student code, were not completed this year and will be taken up again at the beginning of the 2012-13 year. The SAC also enacted a somewhat stricter (or more vigorously enforced) bike parking policy, although this was coupled with the placement of additional bike racks around campus and a subsidized u-lock program.
Of course there were many other smaller projects that ASPC managed this year, and there were several other very important and active functions of the 2011-12 ASPC, for example Pomona Events Committee, club budgeting, and committees chaired by individual Senators. We also altered some internal policies. We changed the language of our constitution and bylaws to be gender-neutral, and we changed the elections code to make campaigns ‘paperless.’ This document summarizes most of the ASPC actions and projects that were unique to the 2011-12 year. For more detailed information, you can search through the official ASPC minutes of every meeting or TSL issues from this year.
ASPC President, 2011-2012