President Starr's Weekly Update (4/12/22)

Dear Pomona College Community,

Last night’s Payton Distinguished Lectureship with journalist Soledad O’Brien illuminated important issues for our nation and our own community. O’Brien noted the need to bring bias into the light and to offer a voice to all communities—something essential for our democracy.

She pointed to the need to recognize our own biases, hear opinions we disagree with and be willing to engage in conversation with each other even when we differ on difficult issues. These are themes we will continue to emphasize on our campus, as we prioritize face-to-face dialogue as foundational to the liberal arts.

O’Brien’s point about the need to underscore our arguments with data was particularly salient in today’s national conversations. She was talking about news reporting, but the point is relevant beyond that arena, when propaganda continually threatens fact.

Closer to home, I want to share the latest campus COVID-19 data. Today, we have had 18 positive test results among Pomona students. Last week we had 92 positives among students, beginning with high numbers on Monday and Tuesday and then declining to three new cases on Friday. The overall increase in cases is straining our student isolation housing capacity. (Faculty and staff case numbers remain low, with four positives last week.)

Across the consortium, at least 10 percent of the undergraduate population has tested positive in the weeks since spring break. As we experienced a surge across our Claremont campuses in recent weeks, health officials at the consortium consulted with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which recommended targeted steps such as pausing indoor dining.

We will reassess the need for those steps when we see a shift in the data. Our aim is to head off the surge of cases with these targeted temporary measures as well as our ongoing public health protocols.

Please keep at it with masking and testing. Los Angeles County is seeing an uptick in cases as well, with a 23 percent increase over the last week, albeit from low case numbers. Following safety measures, even as we grow weary of the pandemic, will help ensure a positive close to the semester.

 

With best wishes,

Gabi