Last week, on February 19th, a group of students interrupted an event hosted by VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood) held at the Women’s Union in Walker residence hall on campus. This event was part of Pomona College’s Abortion Awareness Week. The students began asking disruptive questions, and one of the students was secretly videotaping the event without the knowledge or consent of the college or the individual participants. When the student organizers became aware of the videotaping, they requested that it be stopped. The students who were doing the recording refused. [Emphasis Added: Also, not true.]
This event was advertised and organized as an opportunity for students from across the Claremont Colleges to learn about deeply personal narratives regarding the experience of abortion, and to possibly share their own thoughts and feelings about this challenging and controversial subject in a supportive and safe space. The individuals who disrupted the events last Thursday failed to respect one of the central values of the Women’s Union by attempting to create an antagonistic space. Secretly recording conversations is a violation of the Women’s Union space and is contrary to the values of the Pomona College community. The Women’s Union, like many other spaces on our campus, is identified and recognized as a space on the Pomona campus where individuals are invited to participate in these kinds of discussions.
At Pomona College, we welcome and encourage respectful, thought-provoking, honest and, at times, difficult dialogue about a variety of world, national, local and personal subjects. It is our hope that the illumination of subjects by people with either direct involvement, expertise or personal experience can shape our understanding and empathy, and inform our own decisions and choices when we are faced with challenging issues in our lives or the lives of those close to us. This level of dialogue is impossible to achieve when members decide to conceal recording devices and refuse to hold themselves accountable to the people participating in that discussion.
We would like to remind all students to be aware of your rights and responsibility to uphold respectful dialogue and to report any instances of harassment or hostile behavior to individuals such as the dean on call or to campus safety (X72000). If you have any questions about this, we look forward to hearing from you.
Dean Holmes, Dean of Women and Associate Dean for Student Support and Learning