The Women's Union: A Brief History

In the early 1980s, the Pomona College community dealt with an increase of hateful speech including sexist and racist remarks towards minority groups on campus. This included questionable hazing events by Pomona fraternities, in addition to crude graffiti written on Walker Wall. Out of this increase of ignorant speech, the Feminists Against Repression (FAR) group, organized in 1978, fought for more administrative change within The Claremont Colleges.

In hopes of establishing stricter rules when it came to sexual assault and violence against women, there was also an interest in creating a safe space for women. Its initial purpose was for members to reclaim feminism against typical stereotypes and provide specific resources, such as counseling services, crisis hotlines, and so on. The second floor of Walker Lounge was chosen as the permanent space for FAR and other Women’s Union activities. With the creation of the WU, there began Thursday lunch talks where faculty, professionals, graduate students and others could come and to discuss a topic of their choice related the WU’s mission. These talks were and have been highly successful and continue on to this day.

In addition to creating the Thursday lunch talks, a women’s retreat called Interconnections was established. It was meant to combine female faculty and students together and create a group of women support. The retreat was often held off campus and was widely attended as the celebration of women caught on. From this retreat, it was suggested that women at Pomona College should have an ongoing outlet to voice their feminist writings and work. From this meeting, the feminist publication Re-View was born. Its goal was to create an opportunity for the women of the 5Cs to be seen and heard more professionally. Although neither the Re-View nor Interconnections lasted very long, their legacy lives on as a radical way for a marginalized group to have a voice that once wasn’t available.

The Women’s Union continues to be a safe space for students and aims to harbor community engagement along with community support.

1978: Creation of Feminists Against Repression. Worked heavily alongside with the Gay Student Union (GSU), later changed to the Lesbian Gay Student Union (LGSU)

1981: Colleen O’Neil writes a letter to the Pomona College administration that the need for a safe space for women is incredibly necessary.

1982: The establishment of the Women’s Union in collaboration with Professor and, at that time, Dean of Women Toni Clark and Pomona students.

1983: First Women’s Union Thursday Noon Discussion occurs in the Women’s Union. The practice of having professionals, faculty and staff come for discussion with students is still in effect today.

1984: Lesbian Student Union (LSU) began holding meetings in the Women’s Union.

1988: First interconnections takes place and the Re-View is established

1989: The Re-View is created as a Pomona College publication but includes all of the 5Cs.

1993: The Closet, or the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Resource Center (LGBRC) opens in Walker Lounge

1996: The Women’s Union along with Student Liberation and Action Movement (SLAM) create the “Call to Action,” which was intended to call attention to instances of hate speech and intolerance and to call on the Colleges to work to resolve these issues.

2001-2004: Voices for Planned Parenthood (VOX) chapter is created in order to spread awareness to the Claremont community about contraceptives, family planning options and abortions.

2004: The Women’s Union and SLAM write a new version of the “Call to Action” in order to improve the campus climate for students who had been made to feel marginalized.

2013: First Women of Color Social in the Women’s Union. Created for an even more marginalized group within the 5C community.