Coronavirus Pandemic Leaves Hundreds of Claremont Students Facing Homelessness

The Pomona College administration released through school email channels on Thursday (March 12) a decision to shift academic endeavors to online mediums and mandate that students leave campus by 5:00 PM PST on the upcoming Wednesday (March 18). 

Students, who were given the opportunity to apply to remain safe on campus from their respective situations at home, were notified throughout the week of their respective colleges’ decisions. 

At Pomona College, students received emails from Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Avis E. Hinkson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Robert R. Gaines, and President of Pomona College G. Gabrielle Starr on Saturday (3/14) containing the collective’s decisions on whether or not the students would be allowed to stay. The results of a student poll revealed that just short of a third of the approximately 400 students who applied to stay on campus were approved, leaving an estimated 300 students stranded and facing homelessness.

These students were also sent an email by a travel agent Gloria Lopez from Protravel International on Saturday (March 14) explaining that the college would be “making [the students’] flight reservations for flights home during the next few days.”

Students wrote back immediately, expressing outrage and disappointment while explaining the circumstances that drove them to apply to stay on campus in the first place.

“I have no destination for you to even book me too [sic],” one student e-mailed back.

“My home country is literally quarantined. I can’t go back,” another student wrote. 

“I cannot go to South Korea where my parents are at risk over the age of 60 and where I would be immediately taken into military custody,” wrote yet another. “Staying at Pomona College to best take care of and protect myself and my peers.” 

This news comes in stark contrast to the responses made by nearby academic institutions within southern California, such as the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where classes have shifted online but campuses remain open and committed to ensuring the safety of its students.

In light of the lack of resources offered to the vast majority of students now uncertain as to where they will be sleeping in the coming months, members of the Claremont Colleges have taken matters into their own hands. A GoFundMe page, entitled “Help Pomona students evicted during COVID-19” and organized by the Pomona First-Generation Low-Income (FLI) Scholars, has raised over $30,000 USD within its first 17 hours.

The page was constructed to support “First-Generation, Low-Income, international, and homeless students, as well as those who are survivors of domestic violence,” for whom the Pomona FLI Scholars believe returning home is not a “viable option” due to “safety reasons.” 

Students with rejected applications are allowed to request a call from one of the Dean of Students in the following days, and are otherwise to be left to fend for themselves.

 

Guest Writer: Damian Lin

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