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  • The Claremont Independent

President Oxtoby: “One of Academia’s Highest Values is Free, Open, Informed, and Honest Inquiry”

Earlier today, Pomona College President David Oxtoby sent out an email to the student body, faculty, and staff. The email, cosigned by Dean Crighton, Dean Feldblum, and Dean Collins-Eaglin, begins by stating, “Last fall, our community — along with other colleges and universities across the country — grappled with the tough and important matters of race, racism, economic inequality, access to higher education, and how we live and thrive together as a diverse and inclusive community.” The note continues by describing the value of the discussions surrounding last semester’s controversies. “We had difficult conversations about these complex topics in formal and informal settings; while we did not always agree, and at times these were uncomfortable exchanges for many of us, we are convinced that they were right and necessary.”

The statement then details the importance of free speech on college campuses. “Colleges and universities are the exact places where these discussions should unfold because one of academia’s highest values is free, open, informed, and honest inquiry,” the email states. “At their best, colleges support and value diversity of critical thought and experiences. When this happens, academic institutions can be powerful catalysts for both meaningful dialogue and consequential change. While beyond our gates, polarization is becoming the norm, here on campus, we have the opportunity and the duty to develop the knowledge and skills to change that trajectory and better the world around us.”

“To that end,” the statement continues, “we write to our community today to let you know that with the opening of the spring semester, our desire is to move forward together.” In order to do this, President Oxtoby plans “to intentionally cultivate an inclusive, welcoming environment where every member of the community is integral to the life and discourse of the College” as well as “ensure that Pomona is a place where, while we may not all agree, we respect the right to speak, rebut, and respond.”

The email also describes addition opportunities, such as “continuing meetings with student groups; support for mentoring; faculty hiring; sponsoring guest speakers; purposeful dialogue to deepen our understanding and knowledge; training for faculty, staff, and students; and other substantial steps.” Additionally, the email states, “We will build on the previous announcement of two new positions in Academic and Student Affairs to enhance student support, along with the additional support for student counseling. We will include members of the community in helping plan and implement these steps as we seek the most effective ways to bring about lasting change when and where it is needed.”

“We have learned, and will continue to learn, from the compelling experiences members of our community have shared,” the note continues. “Their stories have affected us on a personal level and better inform our role as leaders. We are excited to work with you this semester and in the years ahead.”


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