Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pomona's Abuse of Power

I haven’t blogged recently, but this is simply outrageous. The recent act by Pomona’s “Dean of Women” is an unbelievable abuse of power. The Dean of Women’s actions are unethical on three grounds:

(1) There was absolutely no due process. No one even bothered to ask Kyle or David their side of the story. Simply, the Planned Parenthood representative and the Vox women lied about the details of the event. There is, in fact, video evidence (obviously), that (a) the video device was not concealed, and (b) David and Kyle in fact offered to leave if asked.

The video explicitly shows that David said they would leave if so requested. This directly contradicts Dean Holmes’ statement in the first paragraph of her letter: “When we hear that someone has failed to respect one of the central values of the Women’s Union by recording a conversation in this way, and/or continuing to record when repeatedly told to stop, we feel compelled to respond.”

Holmes clearly does not actually know the facts of the case: she took the accusers at their word, and took punitive action without due process and without asking the students in question their version of the events. (Again, she could have, at least, asked to see the incontrovertible video evidence).

(2) No Pomona college policies were actually violated. There is no video policy (just search it) that actually says that students attending (and not organizing the event) may not record public lectures. In fact, Dean Feldblum’s email to the Pomona student body recognizes this point! At no point in his email did he say any policies were violated; only that “Secretly recording conversations is a violation of the Women’s Union space and is contrary to the values of the Pomona College community." Not only did Dean Feldblum also have the facts wrong—the recording was not secret—but he also acknowledged that in fact no violation of policy occurred.

Dean Holmes’ letter claims that they “had no authority to be involved in the recording of this conversation without the prior knowledge and explicit authorization of Pomona College.” She later says that such “business is against Pomona College policy.” I challenge Holmes to produce that policy. As far as my research can tell, it does not exist. It is also worth noting that no laws were violated.

In fact, it appears that the only College policies violated were violated by the Pomona College administration.
The Pomona policies declare that in cases of alleged harassment —since that is the only actual policy that one could claim was broken by the students—the students accused shall have opportunities to respond. The students shall also have the right of appeal, which was also denied in this case.

(3) Finally, on what authority can Dean Holmes prohibit students from conducting actions that are not against local, state, or federal law, or college policy? More specifically, on what authority can Dean Holmes declare that Kyle and David “are prohibited from using, releasing, or in any way disseminating any images that you obtained in your filming,” and that all original video copies must be surrendered, under threat of “further action from the College” and “additional liability”? There is no local, state, or federal law that requires them to do so, and neither is there a college policy that requires it. It is outrageous that Pomona College sends insidious and empty threats to students.

The (probably unilateral) action of the Dean of Women should be immediately overturned, and Kyle and David should be allowed to proceed to do just what they came here to do—take their education seriously. That includes having the ability to access Pomona College resources at times of their choosing.


Anonymous said...

You are right about everything except how the dean can prohibit the release of the videos. What I think she means to say is that if released, Pomona would take further action. As other posters have pointed out, Pomona is not required to use due process, or even its own policies.

"Equality" said...

Who is the Dean of Men?

Charles Johnson said...

Dean Miriam Feldblum is a woman, not a "he."

Jeremy said...

I mean, Pomona isn't required to offer due process (although they should). Pomona can summarily ban those two guys from campus, for any or no reason. That said, it's pretty dumb and antithetical to the notions of a college, which purports through its very nature the free exchange of ideas, to refuse to offer any sort of due process.

That said, it's stupid for Pomona to lie about its own policies, contradict itself, act arbitrarily, or to misrepresent the law to students.

Anonymous said...

Pomona College has a YELLOW light rating for threatening student speech.

Anonymous said...

I think the silliest thing is them asking David to destroy and return the original to them.


Puck Fomona.

Anonymous said...

David should have an abortion-awareness week, have the Vox Womyn protest, and then ask them to leave because they were invading his private space.

Haha, he can threaten to abort them from the area.

Q: What did the Vox Womyn Say when David Started videotaping?
A: Abort Mission!

zansky said...

This is insane. Is CMC abandoning Kyle and David? Do alums need to start waging a phone/email war to let them know that if they abandon their students grads won't take that lightly?

David Daleiden said...

Hey anonymous,

If I advertised a Live Action "Abortion Awareness Week" and invited the campus to come to it, I wouldn't be complaining if pro-choice students wanted to come and ask me tough questions. I would relish it!

Keep your eyes peeled for something like that in the coming months if my group stays on schedule. :)


Tom said...

In response to the first Anonymous poster, if Pomona is not required to adhere to its policies, why should students follow them?

From there, it follows that if the only ground Pomona had to stand on is that Kyle and David violated policy, then this whole discussion is moot.

zansky said...

Pomona may feel free to disregard its own policies and not give accused students due process, but if it does indeed choose that path CMC's administration should not stand idly by and let its students fall victim to an arbitrary and threatening neighbor. At least not without fair warning...