The Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC), the student government at the college, is funding and launching an airport rideshare program that will provide free transportation from two Los Angeles area airports to campus exclusively for students from “non-traditional” family structures and immigrant, DACA/undocumented, first-generation, and low-income students.
In a form shared to the Pomona College Class of 2021 Facebook page, ASPC informs potential applicants on details of its pilot program, which it plans to implement on move-in weekend for incoming freshmen.
“The Associated Students of Pomona College is launching our Airport Rideshare system by providing domestic* incoming first-year and transfer students free-of-charge transportation from LAX (Los Angeles International) and Ontario Airport to campus the evening before** and morning of move-in day,” the form explains.
ASPC states that “for the launch of this program, we are prioritizing students from low-income, first-generation, DACA/undocumented, mixed (immigration) status family, and/or ‘non-traditional’ family structure backgrounds.” Confirming the exclusive nature of the program, the form says that “future airport rideshares will be open to all students,” but in the meantime urges students not to question the present policy of exclusion.
“Please respect this and your future classmates’ needs and experiences,” the form says.
It is unclear why students from immigrant backgrounds, including those in the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Program, or “non-traditional” families, require special assistance in procuring transportation to campus from area airports. In its announcement of the program, ASPC did not provide details as to how it would determine which students seeking free rides do in fact belong to the specific groups it declared to be eligible for the service.
Some students applauded the general direction of the program, but questioned why students from the non-low income groups listed, especially students from “non-traditional” families, need assistance in transportation.
“The order should be determined by need, as that is the most accurate standard of application for this [program],” Matthew Ludlam (PO ’20) said in a message to the Independent. “Those groups they mention are going to be the most likely ‘in need’ … the only problem I have is with the third group [non-traditional families] … they [ASPC] just need better parameters.”
Another Pomona student told the Independent that while the new ASPC program’s exclusions have some merit, “it doesn’t make sense that these students are given priority” given that ASPC has indicated it plans to expand the program to serve “all students” in the future.
The form’s stated requirements for eligibility make it clear that non-low income students on financial aid, such as those from middle-income families, would not qualify, but some students believe those students would not benefit from the rideshare program. In an anonymous message to the Independent, another sophomore asserted that “students who come from middle-class families very often have the finances to get to and from campus without as much worry as students with fewer resources.”
But according to Ludlam, the costs of moving into college are not a walk in the park for many non-low income students.
“It isn’t only difficult for low-income students—the hidden costs of moving in can put a toll on the household degrading the quality of life not only for the student but also their parents or potential siblings. Colleges give us a quote for how much it will cost, but these quotes do not accurately portray many of the hidden costs involved with being a student.”
International students also do not qualify for the ASPC’s ride sharing program at this time, since they “have separate travel arrangements made by International Place,” according to ASPC. International Place, the Claremont Colleges’ international student center, provides a complimentary airport shuttle service to new incoming international students, though many of these students are ineligible for the service.
ASPC is funded through a mandatory $355 annual student body fee, paid by all students and assessed yearly.
Pomona College is a member of the Claremont University Consortium.
Update: The president of the ASPC confirmed in a Facebook post that the new policy “doesn’t necessarily constitute low-income students only.” She also wrote that students with non-traditional family structures are students “whose parents cannot travel with them to campus.”
Update: In a public statement to the Independent, the ASPC president insisted that the ride sharing program was not exclusive at all.
“We would like to clarify that our choice to prioritize these student backgrounds based on current student’s perspectives and reflections on their Move-In experiences does not equate exclusion,” she said. “There is no identity-checklist to sign-up for the program. We simply asked individuals to be conscious of the needs and experiences of their classmates, as well as their own, while [signing up].”
She also stated that the new program comprises only about 0.16 percent of the ASPC’s annual budget, and said that it came about as a result of student suggestions.
Update: An earlier version of this article stated that a post concerning the ride share program had been deleted. In fact, it was not visible to certain users.
Matthew Reade contributed reporting.
Photo: lergik / Flickr