STUDENTS FOR AN ACCOUNTABLE POMONA

Students for an Accountable Pomona is a multi-org and multi-identity coalition consisting primarily of the College Community Action Network (CCAN), First-Generation and Low Income Scholars (FLI), Mental Health Alliance (MHA), and Disability, Illness, and Difference Alliance (DIDA). We've come together because we are TIRED of 1) Pomona administration's consistent disregard for transparency and the student voice, and 2) Pomona administration's consistent neglect for the needs of many of the students who most require support at an elite, private, liberal arts colleges like ours.

All we are doing is holding Pomona to its promises, because less aggressive tactics have not worked. Pomona cannot continue to operate like its student body is White, wealthy, and completely healthy when there are so many of us who are POC, FLI, disabled, and mentally ill. It MUST change, and we seek a voice at the table.

Our first of several actions will be a rally on Monday, March 11th from 4pm-5pm at the SCC. But this is NOT going to be a one-time flare-up. We are going to come back again, and again, semester after semester, applying consistent pressure until the school has addressed these demands. Talk to your friends, build the consciousness of this campus, and keep coming out to show that students need this. Let’s hold Pomona Accountable, and let's show the admin that this time is different! Sign here if you support!

FIVE CORE DEMANDS

  • OFF-CAMPUS THERAPY: The full coverage of off-campus therapy copays for students with unlimited sessions.
  • THERAPISTS: Additional Pomona-based therapy to satisfy specific student needs (e.g. cultural competency in marginalized identities, trauma-informed care, etc).
  • DISABILITY COORDINATORS: Two full-time disability coordinator positions to support disabled students.
  • SUMMER BRIDGE: A summer bridge program for incoming students who are first-generation and/or from under-resourced high schools.
  • ADMIN TRANSPARENCY: Develop more robust structures for shared governance and student accountability over administration. Concrete proposals forthcoming.

DEMAND DETAILS

  • OFF-CAMPUS THERAPY: The full coverage of off-campus therapy copays for students.
  • Immediately bring back full coverage to students who utilize off-campus therapists. Pomona’s decision to suspend crucial financial support is unacceptable. Pomona has a responsibility to care for their students, and there are more than ample resources to do so. Additionally, Pomona admin should formally apologize for removing the coverage in the first place and create a program to reimburse the students who were forced to pay out of pocket over the last year.

  • THERAPISTS: Additional Pomona-based therapy to satisfy specific student needs (e.g. cultural competency in marginalized identities, trauma-informed care, etc).
  • Create a Pomona specific therapy program, like Mudd’s ARC collaboration, to launch in the Fall of 2019. This program would reduce wait times and increase quality of mental health care for Pomona Students. Pomona should hire at least 4 therapist to work on-campus and the hiring process should be open to students. Throughout the hiring process specific care should be taken to satisfy the currently unmet needs of Pomona’s Queer Students, Students of Color and Low Income Students. There should also be one full-time therapist who specializes in working with survivors of sexual assault.

  • DISABILITY COORDINATORS: Two full-time disability coordinator positions to support disabled students.
  • The population of disabled students at Pomona warrants two full time coordinators so students have timely access and choices when it comes to their support.

  • SUMMER BRIDGE: A summer bridge program for incoming students who are first-generation and/or from under-resourced high schools.
  • A residential, multi-week summer program to familiarize incoming FLI first-years with campus life and resources as a way to ultimately bolster a sense of belonging and achieve educational equity. As reported by similar programs at other colleges, observable impacts include increased retention rates, higher GPAs, and greater participation in leadership roles.
  • Launch a pilot program for 30 FLI students in Summer 2019 based on student, staff, and faculty input as outlined in the original proposal and summer 2018 committee notes (pillars: academics, professional preparedness, social capital, and mental health)  
  • Financially commit to a 3-summer plan, which aims to incrementally raise participation to include all incoming FLI students and solidify the structure of the summer bridge program as precedence for the years to come.
  • Rigorously study the impact of the program by collecting student input during and after participation, publicizing the results to use as the primary source for revision of the program.

CONTEXT & RATIONALE

Mental Health:

  • In the summer of 2018, Pomona rescinded their commitment to fully cover off campus therapy for low income students. Now, students with SHIP can get up to 80% coverage limited to “in-network” therapists. For “out-of-network” therapy, Pomona limited their financial subsidies of each session to a sole $80 per visit, up to 10 visits a semester.
  • They did this with no student involvement and informed us with an email before school began.
  • Removing coverage of co-pays disproportionately affects low-income students and creates a barrier for them getting the health care that they need.
  • There is a lack of information surrounding mental health resources on campus. Accomodations, therapy accessibility, support groups, and wellness programs on campus are poorly advertised and students often find out about resources from peers at varying stages in their college career. This is in stark contrast to programs such as the meal-swipe mandatory CDO field trip, or the TAAP and Teal Dot Programs that we learn about during our first year. Information should not be hidden from students.
  • Monsour and the EmPOWER Center have waiting lists to see therapists and psychiatrists. Students in distress cannot wait.
  • As of 2/27/19 Monsour has a 3-4 week wait for therapy. Psychiatry was a 2 and a half week wait.  
  • Even if students do manage to wait long enough to see a therapist, they are limited to only 8 therapy sessions. This is not enough time to develop a working relationship with a therapist.
  • Hospitalization procedures at Pomona involve contacting parents against student will.
  • We have more students on a leave of absence than students abroad (TSL).
  • There is currently no dedicated, full-time position at Pomona that specializes in helping/advocating for students mental health. Instead, the Deans of Students try to handle whatever disability related things they can in addition to their primary job as Deans of Students. Many other colleges in the U.S. have an office with full time staff who work solely on disability and accommodations.
  • There is sparse information regarding the state of mental illness and disability in general in the student population. Much of the data compiled (both qualitative and quantitative) is done through unpaid student labor. Similarly, rectifying Pomona’s various issues regarding disability falls almost entirely on students. While there is institutional support to maintain established programs (Accomodations, Monsour, etc.), these programs leave most of the Pomona community woefully underserved and it comes down to the students to do considerable labor to fix what admin refuses to.
  • There have been a number of off campus therapists, primarily women of color who have been picking up the unpaid labor by offering reduced or free services at the expense of their own income.

Disability Accommodations:

  • Pomona reportedly told an admitted student with blindness that they could not attend Pomona for two years so that Pomona would have time to meet their accessibility needs. This is unacceptable, especially considering that there are current students with blindness already on campus.
  • There is a lack of publicly available information. Pomona students had difficulty accessing disability accommodation renewal forms. DIDA reached out to Pomona disability services on Sept 4 and never heard back.

Summer Bridge:

  • FLI Scholars (previously Quest Scholars) has been advocating for a summer bridge program for years
  • Te’auna Patterson ‘18 began to gather information and met with Travis Brown to discuss preliminary ideas
  • Thanks to the work of Te’auna, the FLI Scholars executive board presented a proposal and budget to President Starr on April 11, 2018
  • President Starr approved the budget in front of at least two staff members by the end of Spring 2018 to begin a pilot program summer 2019
  • From June to August 2018, Travis Brown, Dylan Worcester, Professor Bacio, and a group of students began planning the pilot program
  • On August 17, 2018 Travis met with President Starr and Dean Bilger to update them on the planning committee’s work
  • A few days later, Travis informed the planning committee that President Starr told him that she did not remember approving the program
  • On September 28, 2018, the planning committee met one last time to discuss how we could help restructure orientation to place the conversation back on a bridge program
  • Reconsidering the need for a summer bridge program was continuously pushed to the side as President Starr and Dean Hinkson wanted to prioritize restructuring orientation, as if a summer bridge program was not necessary if orientation was simply restructured.