Pomona President Says College Supports Students Amid Coronavirus Evacuation

After various student complaints and petitions in response to Pomona College’s trend of denying petitions for students to stay on campus after being ordered to evacuate the college amid coronavirus fears, Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr sent an email late Sunday (March 15) updating the student body on the college’s response. The response did not mention the denied petitions to stay on campus.

“Please know that we are here for you, and for each of us who leads this institution, all who teach and serve our students, this is a moment of great urgency. We will not be perfect in our responses, but we will respond and be there for you and for each other,” Starr stated.

According to Starr, the college is providing the following forms of assistance: 

  1. We plan to provide a prorated refund of room and board costs for students leaving campus, and are working to quickly provide details on the process.

  2. The College is approving additional requests for assistance (on top of the room and board payment) received from a student, in accordance with need. This has included funds for airline tickets, baggage fees and gas. No request for funding has been denied.

  3. Any student needing assistance should contact their class dean, who can authorize emergency funding as required and work with students one on one.

  4. Laptops and pre-paid WiFi hotspots remain available for students who request them.

  5. Student employees will continue to be paid by the College. (Earnings will be projected for the remainder of the semester based on the student’s average earnings between Jan. 21 – March 13.) Additional details are in our coronavirus response FAQ.

In her email, Starr emphasized social distancing, highlighting that “[i]t is essential for all of us to do our part to limit the spread of the virus. Details on additional campus measures for social distancing will be announced tomorrow.”

“I also want to share with you that “social distancing” is so far from what we wish for every Sagehen; yet we must be physically distant for some time, even as we find means to be together in heart and mind,” Starr added.

According to student organizers, Pomona has rejected over two-thirds of petitions to stay on campus, mainly affecting international and low-income students who may not feasibly return home.

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