After the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade

Dear Pomona College Community,

Friday’s news of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate federal protection of abortion rights is a critical moment for this country. The right to abortion was established in 1973, and for many of us it has carried forward as a fact through our entire lives. Few issues, however, divide the United States more sharply than abortion. And thus, reactions to this decision across the country, around the world, and in our own Pomona community are marked by sharp, passionate, principled disagreement.

As a woman, as a mother, as a feminist, and as a Christian, I am deeply saddened. I am sure that you each feel something powerful, and every view is represented in our microcosm of the world.

As your president, however, I have a different set of responsibilities than those that I hold as an individual, but in both of those capacities, I am worried that public faith in, and the actual strength of, our institutions of government in the U.S. are at a fragile point. That fragility is slipping into distrust and anger as many people feel they have neither a voice nor hope.

We have, however, both. As president of Pomona, I believe that as strongly as I believe that the sun will rise on this earth tomorrow. I have heard your many and varied voices in the years I have been at our College, and that gives me hope for the years ahead.

Profound disagreement does not always have to mean bitter division. And thus I ask of you all to hold fast, and to rise to the challenge that history offers. One of the values liberal arts colleges hold dear is that we are thoughtful, and at Pomona, that thoughtfulness means we seek to speak without harm. This means listening to understand, and not simply to respond; speaking to convey and convince, not to accuse; and working to foster a community of care for all.

These values are more important than ever.

In 2017, I wrote an open letter to American college students in the Washington Post. In it, I noted that America is an experiment in democracy. All of our democratic institutions have been born in the last two hundred or so years: the blink of an eye in human history. America is an experiment. We get some things right. Others, profoundly wrong. But I believe the experiment in democracy is one that cannot fail. And it is on us to make sure that we all live up to the ideals of human dignity, of compassion, of the efficacy of each voice and the power of each conscience.

I have boundless hope that the world can be better, and it will be. It will be, in part, through each of you.

Many in our community will be concerned about the availability of medical care outside of California, especially during study away or internships. In the coming days I will announce membership on a task force to provide guidance.

In the meantime, please remember that we abide by California as well as U.S. law, and that abortion care and access remain legal in this state. For students who are currently in states where restrictions are now in place, please contact 7CHealth to be provided with options. For those who may need support in processing this decision and its impact, you may also contact 7CHealth to connect with a counselor.

In the coming days and months, let’s live up to what Pomona stands for. We have extraordinary faculty who can help contextualize this moment in history, to understand how we got here, and where we might go. We have amazing alumni who engage in deciding and effecting the changes that shape the world. We have remarkable staff, who move mountains in their own right. And we have peerless students, whose passions and intellects are our collective future.

Be strong. Be hopeful. Be bold. Be kind.


Be Pomona,