Pomona College Students Demand Dorms Stay Open During Coronavirus Closure

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Josh Edelson/AP

Students at Pomona College in California are demanding that college officials provide them with emergency housing during the Wuhan coronavirus closure. The students have 16 total demands for college administrators, including a demand for dorm room cleaning supplies.

According to a report by the College Fix, students at Pomona College have created a list of demands for college administrators which includes permanent access to campus dormitory buildings. The Chronicle of Higher Education published a report on Thursday which highlights the students’ claim that administrators arbitrarily rejected their petitions to remain on campus.

The list of demands was written in response to Pomona’s decision to shut down campus due to the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. Many colleges and universities around the country have made similar efforts to prevent further spreading of the Chinese virus.

However, Pomona students believe that they are entitled to robust protections from Pomona administrators. This week, they penned a list of demands. The primary demand focused on Pomona’s decision to evict 275 students that have petitioned to stay on campus during the shutdown.

We demand that all petitions to stay at Pomona College for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year be immediately approved. Partial AND conditional acceptances to students who have petitioned to stay for the remainder of the academic year are unacceptable. Rejection and partial acceptances deliberately place students in immediate proximity to domestic violence, food insecurity, houselessness; places international visas in jeopardy, and prevents access to work, and healthcare loss due to SHIP’s extremely limited coverage in areas remote from campus.

In the petition, the students argue that it is important for students to be able to remain on campus for a variety of reasons. Some students are unable to travel to their home country. Other students are concerned about returning home and infecting an older relative.

Pomona’s mass evictions of students who have petitioned to stay on-campus increases the spread of the virus by forcing them to travel by airways. Pomona both assumes safe and stable housing for all students AND refuses to acknowledge the health and wellbeing of family and friends who students recognize as vulnerable to germs and illness that can be picked up during travel on public transportation and in the air. This recognition is not out of inordinate fear; instead, students are actively making decisions about their personal wellbeing and that of their family members and support networks who may not have access to healthcare or other tantamount resources in this moment.

It is unclear at this point how many Pomona students have signed the petition. However, Breitbart News reported this week that coronavirus-related student petitions are starting to pop up. Thousands of students at the University of California, San Diego, have signed a petition to have their $1,000 student fee refunded for the remainder of the semester. The student fee funds recreational amenities such as the campus fitness center which students are unable to access during the shutdown.

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