Dear Pomona College Community,
I am writing to let you know that the Westboro Baptist Church – infamous for its picketing around the nation – has announced plans to picket near our Pomona College campus and Claremont High this coming Monday. Based on past patterns, they may or may not show up. If they do come here, let me be clear: we will not permit their activities on the College’s private property.
The hate speech this small group continually directs at the LGBTQIA+ community and many others is sickening. Despite its small numbers, WBC has a penchant for attracting attention, which seems to serve as oxygen for its campaign of hate. Members also are known for being savvy in asserting legal rights; let us be thoughtful in how we choose to respond and avoid inadvertently being drawn into serving their agenda in any way.
Let us use the moment to uphold and affirm the positive values of inclusion we believe in and, most importantly, to care for one another as a community. On Monday morning from 7 to 9 a.m. we will be gathering in two locations to support one another and stand up for our vision of respect and inclusion:
- The Queer Resource Center will be open with staff on hand, and they also will be available throughout the day to support our community;
- The Frank Blue Room will be open with Student Affairs staff for conversation and support.
While I recognize we can’t ignore the existence of hate -- nor should we -- I also do not want to allow any hate group to manipulate us into aiding their attempts to gain publicity.
For those who choose to engage in counter-protest, I strongly urge you to do so peaceably to avoid doing anything that would draw you into a legal dispute that would only serve someone else’s aims. In the face of hate, let us work together, support one another and continue to lift up the work we do as a college to open minds and build a better future.
A final and important note: if you need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services at 909-621-8202, the dean on call, the Chaplains Office or QRC.
Once again, it is important to know this group does not always show up. We will continue to update the community as more information becomes available.
Let’s be well, be wise and stand together as one Pomona,