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Winter 2003
Volume 40, No. 2

This Issue's Contents

PCM Issue Archive

PCMOnline Editor
Sarah Dolinar

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Read Letters to the Editor

Letter from the Editor

The Diversity Imperative

In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled on what is probably the most important civil rights case in the past quarter century. In the newspaper headlines, it was billed as a split decision. The court ruled against the University of Michigan, six justices to three, in the case of its undergraduate admissions program (the case known in legal shorthand as Gratz) and in favor of the university, five to four, in the case involving its law school (the case known as Grutter).

But for colleges such as Pomona, the decision wasn’t split at all—it was a vindication and an endorsement.

Both cases were about affirmative action, to be sure. But the difference between the two was substantial, and important. In essence, what the court struck down was a selection process characterized by a rigid calculus that allotted a specific numerical value for minority status, to be tallied along with points for test scores, grade-point averages, extracurriculars and the like. It was precisely the kind of mechanical consideration of race that the much-cited Bakke decision suggested wouldn’t fly 25 years ago.

Much more important was what the Court upheld.

The justices upheld admissions procedures that look at the “whole candidate,” treating race and ethnicity flexibly, as one significant factor among many. Just as importantly, they upheld the right of a college or university to determine that diversity was a “compelling interest.” They rejected the notion that colleges should have to choose between diversity and excellence, affirming the value of both in an educational setting.
In other words, the Court put its stamp of approval on the kind of flexible but positive consideration of the value of building a diverse student body that Pomona has embraced for many years in its admissions process.

It’s one more sign that America is changing. The courts continue to refine the boundaries of what is and is not permissible as a remedy, but the value of diversity—the sense that it is not only a moral obligation but a growing economic and societal imperative—has entered the American mainstream.
Here at Pomona, the commitment to diversity runs deep. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. But it does mean that dealing with those problems is high on the institution’s list of priorities.

Back in 1989, when PCM last took a look at diversity on our own campus, the central question seemed to be whether. Now the central question seems to have become how. How to push forward the process of making Pomona a place where people of all backgrounds and ethnicities can feel comfortable and empowered. How to build a community where diversity leads naturally to learning. There are still disagreements on means and on pace, but little disagreement on the ultimate goal—a campus where differences are respected and diversity is simply the background for learning, a campus where individuals of all races are comfortable and free to be themselves, not representatives of some group or living proof of some ideal.

—Mark Wood

Letters to the Editor

Commencement Omission

I was surprised and very disappointed to see no paragraph and picture about Lucy Shelton ’65 receiving an honorary doctorate in music at the graduation ceremony May 2003. One generally expects to read about all honorary degrees when a college magazine has articles concerning graduation events. To neglect a distinguished alumna in this regard seems very strange and un-Pomona-like.

As part of her acceptance speech at the commencement ceremony, she demonstrated the very thing that has won her acclamations in her musical career. She performed a world premiere piece for soprano and clarinet by a contemporary composer, Pomona’s own Tom Flaherty. Micah Bregman, graduating senior, played the clarinet part expertly. The text was a poem by former Pomona faculty member Edward Weismiller, “When Time Was Young” (Part Song II from The Branch of Fire). This unique event was Lucy’s idea and she pulled it off brilliantly with the enthusiastic help of composer, poet and clarinetist, all part of Pomona’s family.

Recognition of this unusual commencement event in the next PCM would be most appreciated.

—Heidi S. Lynch ’61
Boulder, CO

Editor’s Note: This was indeed an unfortunate omission. Here is a photo of the event you mention. It should also be noted that in addition to the degree bestowed upon Ms. Shelton, honorary degrees were granted to Akira Iriye, the Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University; and Ted Mitchell, president of Occidental College.

Pomona Ecology

Twenty years ago when I attended Pomona and walked the beautiful campuses brimming with exotic plantings, woven together by intricate webs of watering systems, no one ever mentioned water issues to us. At orientation we were never told where our drinking water came from, or where the water that maintained our bucolic haven originated. It was only upon leaving Pomona that I learned about all of the ecological issues and land-use policies that shaped Southern California and all of the ways that Southern California shapes its ecology. I remain shocked that this would not have been an essential part of my education at college.

When you write about the greening of Pomona, I hope this includes a commitment to educate students about the place, the literal place where they dwell. I hope that the history of land and water use in Southern California, like the history of the Sagehens, is a mandatory part of orientation.  If students can graduate from Pomona unable to name the source of their drinking water, the greening of Pomona is farther away than you might imagine.

—Jessica Thayer ’84
Peaks Island, ME

Organic Success Story

I am sure you are aware that the Pomona community embraces more than its students and alums. Because of Pomona’s generosity in sending your fine magazine to the parents of students and alums, we too are able to keep in touch. It is always a treat for me to read about Pomona, where my only connection lies in the fact that my daughter ventured there from the East Coast for her education.

Pomona students and grads seem to be extraordinary people, and your magazine does a great job in showing their varied talents and interests. Your recent issue points out that there is a green revolution in this country—brought about and sustained in part by Pomona students, grads and employees. The initiative in campus plantings and irrigation is one instance, and the growing interest in organic foods is another. I wondered however, why you gave short shrift to the campus farm where everything is grown organically. I seem to recall that it was mentioned in an earlier issue, but when I saw the cover of this issue I thought it might be a feature.

On a recent visit to Claremont after an absence of two years, I was struck by the growth of the farm. The diversity and hardiness of the plantings are beyond what I had expected to see. It must be heartening to the College to see how its students and grads have used their added riches to make this farm what it is. Other colleges and universities have recently been in the public eye as a result of their encouragement of organic gardening on their campuses. Indeed some use of the produce of these gardens in their dining halls. Has Pomona considered doing the same?

Please let me suggest that Pomona look, in an “eager, thoughtful and reverent” manner, on what has been wrought on its own campus by students, grads and community members with the intent of seeing how such initiative and work can be encouraged, expanded and made a vital part of the Pomona community.

—Rosemary Levine (P ’00)
New York, NY

Another Branch of the Tree

I was very pleased to see the “Family Tree” article on the Tranquada family in the Fall 2003 PCM. May I add a branch that doesn’t appear on the chart of that crowded family tree? I’m the grandson of Elvira De Silva Alverson, who was a sister of the five De Silva siblings who graduated from Pomona (Lionel ’24, Ernest ’24, Lucile ’28, Elmer ’32 and Clement ’35). Hello to all my Sagehen cousins!

—Jim Alverson ’91
Falls Church, VA

Unheralded Achievement

Congratulations to the 1992 Pomona-Pitzer women’s tennis national champions for their induction into the Pomona-Pitzer Athletic Hall of Fame. Theirs was the best finish of any Pomona team in any sport in history. The question is, what Pomona team previously held that honor? Incredibly few people know the answer, which is: the 1967 Pomona men’s bowling team that finished second in the NAIA National Championship. This team competed in several local matches and tournaments, rolled a six-game qualifying match and scored highest in the West Coast district, earning the right to travel to Kansas City, MO, for the Championship. Captain John Waldo ’67 and members George Ude ’68, Randy Williams ’70, Ted Ockels ’70 and Stephen Colley ’70 needed a coach. Anne Bages, who knew little of tournament-level bowling, but had a heart as big as the Wash, stepped forward and accompanied the team. After two days of hard competition, the team finished second in the nation, and Randy Williams had rolled the highest game in the tournament. No accolades were waiting upon our return; no banquets were held; and no mention of the accomplishment was published in the Metate.

Apparently, sometime later, Anne Bages attempted to have this team honored in the Pomona-Pitzer Athletic Hall of Fame, to no avail. Perhaps now would be the time to set the record straight. Second place team in national competition is damn fine!

—George R. Ude ’68
Atlanta, GA

A Great Musician

The obituary for Carl G. Arnold ’38 in the Fall 2003 PCM rightly stressed his distinguished military career. It should not be forgotten, however, that he was one of the finest cornet players ever to attend the College and played an important role in the history of the Pomona College Band. He loved to tell the story of visiting Claremont as a high school senior and spotting the opportunity to assist in developing a formal band program. Carl, who had not previously been interested in attending Pomona, talked the director of admissions into letting him come to the College and assist first Herbert Grey and then, in his junior and senior years, the newly appointed William G. “Doc” Blanchard in that process. For four years he served as drum major for the marching band and played cornet in the concert band, which gave its first formal concert on April 1, 1935. In his senior year Carl was also assistant conductor of the concert band, in addition to serving as student body president. Perhaps his proudest moment as a musician came in connection with the First Intercollegiate Band Conference, which “Doc” had organized as part of the celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the College. On February 5, 1938 in Bridges Auditorium, accompanied by the 90-member Intercollegiate Band, Carl played Herbert L. Clarke’s virtuoso cornet solo “Bride of the Waves”—one of the many pieces that Clarke had written for himself to play as cornet soloist with John Philip Sousa’s band from 1892–1917—with the composer conducting. Carl, who was also a fine conductor, directed the Pomona College Band in Fall 1947, reviving the marching band for the first time since the war. Many alumni will remember him leading the band and the audience in renditions of “Spirit of Pomona” at Alumni Weekends in 1988, 1993 and 1998. The Pomona College Band concerts in April 2003 were dedicated to his memory, and to the memory of another fine trumpet player who had played under his direction, Les Warden ’48.

—Graydon Beeks ’69
Director of the Pomona College Band and Professor of Music

We welcome letters about the College or magazine. Letters may be edited for length, style and clarity. When a letter raises significant questions, an appropriate respondent may be invited to reply. The editor reserves the right to cut off debate on an issue after a reasonable period of time.

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