Tag Archives: resign

President Oxtoby to Step Down

In an email sent this morning to the Pomona College community, David W. Oxtoby – thirteen year President of Pomona College – announced his plans to step down in June 2017.

President Oxtoby states that he is “very proud of Pomona College.” In particular, he references “the successful conclusion of Campaign Pomona: Daring Minds,” a five-year, $250 million fundraising effort that has contributed to new construction projects like those of the Studio Art Center and Millikan Hall, as well as increased funding for internships, fellowships, and scholarships.

He further assures the community: “While I am considering opportunities I might pursue, my highest priority will remain leading this amazing institution in the months ahead. I am confident that the leadership and expertise of our faculty, the experience of our staff, the determination and talent of our students, and the time we have to partner together on the shared goals will make this a smooth transition and allow us to remain focused on the critical work still at hand.” With the support from the Board, President Oxtoby plans to continue advancing “the College’s key priorities and successful operations of the institution.”

This advancement will include “working to improve diversity and inclusion, developing plans for the new Pomona College Museum of Art, progressing [Pomona’s] commitment to be climate neutral by 2030, and taking the next steps to further integrate the new Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity into The Claremont Colleges.”

President Oxtoby closes by urging the college to “continue to move ahead, celebrating the meaningful work we do here every day and exploring exciting opportunities for the future.”

Sam Glick, Chair of the Pomona College Board of Trustees, emailed the Pomona College community following President Oxtoby’s announcement, stating that “We will celebrate President Oxtoby’s many contributions to the College in due course.  For now, however, both President Oxtoby and the Board of Trustees have plenty of work to do.  Every year that he has led the College, President Oxtoby has moved our institution forward with characteristic energy and ambition.  I expect his final year to be no exception, and he has the full support of the Board of Trustees in continuing to advance Pomona’s mission.”

Mr. Glick continues: “Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees must begin the important task of choosing President Oxtoby’s successor.  Selecting a new leader is the highest duty a governing body has – a duty that my colleagues on the Board and I intend to carry out with humility and careful deliberation.  Over the next month or so, we will design a process to select the tenth president of Pomona College.  While we will share more specifics regarding that process in April, I know that it will reflect Pomona’s long tradition of shared governance, and, as with previous presidential searches, will take into account the perspectives and priorities of Pomona’s diverse community, including faculty, staff, students and alumni.”

Mr. Glick concludes by assuring the Pomona College community that “Pomona has never been in a stronger position to recruit a new president, and President Oxtoby’s transition presents us with a valuable moment in which we can reflect as a community on who we are, who we want to be, and how a new leader can support us on that journey.”

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

I Resign: The Writing Center’s Mission is to Teach Writing, Not Ideology

Dear Professor Bromley, Ms. Liu-Rojas, and Ms. Snell,

I am writing to resign my position as a Writing Fellow. I wish that I felt I could continue in this role and am sorry to resign mid-year. As you know, writing is one of my passions and as you also know, that wasn’t always the case. It was my freshman seminar that convinced me I could write and that I enjoyed it. My professor, Dean Lozano, was instrumental in that process, and his Writing Fellow, Ben Brasch, was key as well. At the conclusion of the course, I decided to apply to become a Writing Fellow in the hope that I could inspire other writers the way I had been inspired. I was thrilled and honored to be selected to serve as a Fellow.

I had genuinely thought the purpose of the Writing Center was to teach writing. I hadn’t realized the writing instruction would be delivered with a side of ideology and that the ideology was not only mandatory but also more important than the actual teaching of writing. I’ve learned this over the past few months, which is the reason for my resignation.

First, Ms. Snell, the Writing Center Team Coordinator, asked me to meet with her. She accused me of being an obstacle preventing the Writing Center from being a “safe space.” This came in response to a news article I had written that detailed a series of no-whites-allowed “safe spaces” at the Claremont Colleges. Ms. Snell specifically mentioned my article, and noted she was concerned that my involvement with both the Writing Center and the Claremont Independent would lead students to associate the organizations with one another. Obviously, many other Writing Fellows contribute to campus publications. But as far as I’m aware, no one else has been told that’s a problem.

My next meeting was with Professor Bromley. She told me she was worried that I was not doing enough to make the Writing Center a space where students feel welcome. To rectify that, she canceled my appointments that night and asked me to read three packets about identity politics instead. One of the readings states that teaching English to non-native English speakers is an attack on free speech. Another criticizes “the hegemonic feminist theory produced by academic women, most of whom were white.” The third, titled “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy,” states that capitalism is racist. I read all three packets, as I had been told to do. I did not agree with the opinions presented in any of them, nor did I see any connection between these readings and my work at the Writing Center.

Ms. Snell then asked to meet with me again to talk about what I had read, and what role identity politics should play in the Writing Center’s mission. My peers have proposed their ideas for a new Writing Center mission statement, noting that we should aspire to “provide a space for students to work through their ideas with fellows trained in a writing pedagogy that considers how race, gender, sexuality, language, national-origin, and socioeconomic status influences and affects those ideas,” “educate ourselves so that we better understand oppression, liberation, and dynamics of difference and power as they manifest themselves in the Writing Center,” and “acknowledge and interrogate the ways in which the Writing Center, Pomona College, and academia itself perpetuate and have perpetuated injustice and oppression.” I told Ms. Snell that, in my opinion, the goal of the Writing Center should remain unchanged: to provide “students with a community of experienced readers and writers, offering free, one-on-one consultations at any stage of the writing process—from generating a thesis and structuring an argument to fine-tuning a draft.”

I guess that was the wrong answer, since the next day I was placed on probation and informed that I needed to meet with Professor Bromley and Ms. Liu-Rojas, the Writing Center’s administrative assistant, the following week. I was told the reason for my probation was that I had missed a mandatory meeting for Writing Fellows, but at my meeting with Professor Bromley and Ms. Liu-Rojas, we did not discuss that at all. Rather, we talked about my prior meeting with Ms. Snell. Apparently, “her feelings had been hurt” because of my “tone.” Professor Bromley and Ms. Liu-Rojas told me that if I did anything else they deemed wrong, I would be fired.

The following night, I worked my normal shift. I met with two students and I thought that both consultations had gone well. However, I soon received an email from Professor Bromley stating that the Writing Center had received an “anonymous complaint” from a student who had worked with me, that they were investigating the situation, and that my appointments would be canceled until further notice. Perhaps coincidentally, a quick Facebook search revealed that one of the students with whom I worked that night had dressed as “White Supremacy” for Halloween and appeared in photos with two other students who were dressed as “Steven Glick and his White Fragility,” yet she still chose to work with me as her tutor.

Based on these incidents, which have occurred over many months, it has become clear that the Writing Center is harassing me because of my political beliefs. This is unacceptable, just as harassment based on gender, race, religion or any other demographic or ideological construct is unacceptable. My probation is not related to any inadequacy of my work at the Writing Center. Rather, it is due to my political views, which differ greatly from those of the Writing Center leadership. Each time I have been asked to meet with Writing Center leadership, I am asked to talk about controversial political issues that are unrelated to my work at the Center. Soon after each meeting, I have been informed I’ve done something wrong on the job and need to be punished. I had hoped that President Oxtoby’s recent statement in support of free speech at Pomona College would be a game changer, allowing conservative, libertarian, and classically liberal students and faculty to share our honest opinions with our progressively liberal peers who seem to control the sanctioned conversation on campus. Unfortunately, I was naively optimistic. His words carry no meaning if they are ignored and countermanded by Pomona’s faculty and staff.

I wish I could continue to work at the Writing Center because I feel that it’s important for all students, whether black or white, on financial aid or not, conservative or liberal, to have a place to review and strengthen their writing. Unfortunately, the Writing Center no longer seems to be that place. Until the Writing Center can return to its apolitical mission and forsake its acceptance and appeasement of political harassment, I regret that I must resign my position as a Writing Fellow.

Sincerely,

Steven Glick

Editor-in-Chief, The Claremont Independent