ASPC Approves Recall Vote For VP Of Finance For “Racial Insensitivity”

In an email sent earlier this evening, Pomona College Dean of Campus Life Josh Eisenberg released a statement on behalf of the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) announcing the approval of “a motion for a recall election to remove the ASPC Vice President for Finance from their position for the remainder of the 20-21 academic year.” Pomona’s Black Student Union (BSU), which demanded the recall election, cited the “VP of Finance’s lack of empathy, apology, and continued policing of Black students” in its statement in the email.

BSU demanded the recall election after the Vice President of Finance (VPF) supported a policy that, they argued, had the ability to ability to “put Black students at risk.” According to BSU, the VPF ignored the policy concerns of several Black ASPC Senators. For her part, the VPF claimed that the “actions taken were not based on the racial identities of any club or any member of the Budget Committee.” The VPF also explained that “[a]s an international student I didn’t have access to the internet or social media so I was very out of the loop.”

In its statement, BSU said that “[t]here can simply be no room for people with the VP for Finance’s attitude on student government contributing to the culture that makes Black students feel unprotected. Furthermore the VP of Finance’s lack of empathy, apology, and continued policing of Black students is deplorable and should be condemned as such.” One ASPC member said that the recent anti-Asian hate crimes have “given a lot of Asian students the excuse to be anti-Black by exploiting and tokenizing Black and Brown students for their own gain, especially in elections.”

According to the email, the dispute began when ASPC “approved a new policy allowing clubs to spend their club funding on food gift cards to provide incentives for students to attend virtual events” earlier this year. Previously, “ASPC policy prohibited [clubs] from spending their funds on gift cards in this manner.”

The email explained that during a meeting of the ASPC Budget Committee, “[l]anguage was proposed that clubs be required to post their event in Chirps” to conform with federal law. Chirps is Pomona’s weekly event and newsletter. The email also stated that “[t]he Vice President for Finance (VPF) supported this proposal.”

In response to the advertising requirement, ASPC said that “members of the Budget Committee raised concerns about the safety of students when events centering identity groups are advertised so openly. They shared about a recent RA sponsored event on Zoom where someone anonymously joined and yelled racial slurs at Black students. Additionally, this discussion in the Budget Committee was happening at the same time as several Black-centered clubs had submitted proposals to spend funds on gift cards.”

As an alternative, “[t]he Budget Committee also discussed whether advertising on a club’s social media accounts could be considered enough to meet the legal requirements.”

The email stated that the VPF “requested a motion for a vote on a bylaw amendment with wording that required [clubs] requesting food gift cards to advertise in Chirps, in order to meet the legal requirements.” According to the email, after the motion failed the VPF asked the “ASPC President (who also formerly served as VPF) to attend to help explain the legal requirements and concerns to the committee.” Ultimately, it was agreed that “clubs should be encouraged to advertise on social media and to their club listservs.”

The VPF explained that “[i]n proposing that events be advertised in Chirps, the VPF was acting out of their desire to do their job responsibly, following all laws and policies as advised by the ASPC advisor. The actions taken were not based on the racial identities of any club or any member of the Budget Committee.”

According to the VPF, “[o]f the 28 budget requests we received for food gift card funding approval, 21 of them were from Black groups, 4 of them were from other groups of color, and 3 of them were for non-racially-based groups. If it appeared that there was too much focus on clubs for Black students, this could be attributed to the fact that 75% of the requests are from such clubs.” The VPF claimed that “[a]fter creating space for this and asking if anyone had anything to say, no one spoke up to discuss it further, so they believed the issue was over.”

BSU explained that the issue truly began with “racial insensitivity [Black Senators] faced in the budget committee which soon snowballed into bigger issues after their concerns created no actionable steps to make the environment more conducive and welcoming.”

According to BSU, “[w]hen the budget committee failed to pass the bylaw, the VP of Finance brought in the ASPC President to convince Black Senators to change their votes, and the VP of Finance led another re-vote which ultimately failed.”

After the bylaw was passed, “[t]he Black senators noticed a trend where Black organizations were being heavily policed as opposed to non-Black groups. The VP of Finance would ask for proof that Black organizations’ events were being advertised and paid particularly close attention to wording and marketing, whereas they did not do the same when it came to non-black groups.”

BSU also claimed that “the VP of Finance began following a Black group on social media to make sure they advertised, but did not follow any other affinity groups to track their advertisements. The Black senators voiced these issues to the VP of Finance and not once did the VP of Finance sympathize with them whatsoever and even more so, they still pushed for the amendment to be passed.”

BSU concluded its statement by saying that “the racial insensitivity that incoming and current Black senators have expressed feeling from the VPF’s actions is unacceptable especially because the VPF still has not seen an issue in their actions. It is our hope that with next year’s inclusion of ASPC Anti-racism training, the VPF will be better prepared to handle their role, but as of right now after multiple failed conversations about the situation, that does not seem possible.”

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