Pomona Students Protest Against “Forced” Room And Board Fees, Mandatory On-Campus Housing

In response to an email sent last night explaining that Pomona College would restrict the number of students allowed to live off-campus to 60 and require students living off-campus to pay for a 10-meal plan despite not living on-campus, students from the Pomona class of 2022 drafted a Google Form to protest what one student called “[a]bsurdity.” For the 2020-2021 academic year, the estimated average cost of room and board was $12,820 for students living off-campus.

In the email sent on April 22, Dean of Students Josh Eisenberg explained that Pomona plans on leasing off-campus housing at Oasis KGI Commons, an apartment complex adjacent to Claremont Village. He went on to say that, “[t]he College expects to lease rooms from Oasis only for the fall 2021 semester with the hope that juniors will be allowed to study abroad in spring 2022.” The number of off-campus students not living at Oasis will be limited to 60 students, which is approximately “the average number of students who have lived off-campus for the previous three on-campus academic years.”

In response to this decision, students immediately took to social media to protest. One student joked that Pomona seemed to be saying that “we don’t have enough housing for everyone. [A]lso Pomona: ur not allowed to live off campus ok bye.” Others asked whether it would be possible for the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) to “do something about this requirement.”

Much of the outcry centered around students’ concerns with leases for off-campus housing, particularly for students who have already signed leases. One student said that “[a]pparently, those who signed leases had to have sought approval first from the college before signing leases. Sounds like they are really trying to push students into their payment streams.”

Another warned students not to “sign the housing application until we figure out a way to get this reversed. The application specifically forces you to agree that you will pay for room and board if your application is denied. That’s not something I feel comfortable agreeing to since I already have a lease for next year.”

To protest Pomona’s decision, students from the class of 2022 created a Google Form to gather data about students living off-campus. The form was intended to gather information regarding students’ class year, gap semester, and potential leasing situations. One question asked whether students had “[a]lready signed a lease (HAVE paid security deposit); [a]lready signed a lease (have NOT paid security deposit); [i]n the process of negotiating lease; [s]till looking for housing; [s]till deciding whether or not to live off-campus.”

The Google Form also sought to gauge student confusion about Pomona’s housing policy for the 2021-2022 academic year. One question asked “which statements most accurately describe your understanding of Pomona’s off campus housing policy.” The potential answers were: “I understood that housing needed to be approved by Pomona; I felt that Pomona has effectively communicated their housing plans in a timely manner; I was unaware that permission was required to live off campus; I thought that the housing application was just a way to tell Pomona about my decision to live off campus; I did not know that there would be a limit on the number of students able to live off campus.”

Pomona College estimated that the cost of room and board for students who live on campus is $5,000 more expensive than for students who live off-campus. Pomona stated that it would provide all students with an unlimited meal plan in the belief “that meals are one of the most effective ways to create community.” As previously mentioned, during the 2021 fall semester even students living off-campus will be required to pay for a weekly 10 meal plan. Normally, “[s]tudents who live on campus must be on a meal plan, which can be 16, 14 or 12 meals per week at any 5C dining hall.”

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