Students Expelled For Illegally Occupying Pomona College President’s Office During Divestment Protest, Causing Damage on University Property


The incident at Pomona College began as part of ongoing demonstrations organized by the Pomona Divest from Apartheid coalition. The group has been advocating for the college to divest from Israel and weapons manufacturers, particularly amidst the prolonged conflict in Gaza. While previous protests had been peaceful, tensions rose dramatically during the latest demonstration.

Students Expelled for Storming Pomona College President’s Office During Divestment Protest
(Photo : WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Adam Jones)

According to reports, the situation intensified after college officials started dismantling a 32-foot-long "apartheid wall" erected by students. The wall, adorned with messages such as "Disrupt the Death Machine" and "Apartheid College; We are all Complicit," became a focal point of the protesters' demands.

Despite repeated requests from college authorities, the protesters refused to disperse, leading to a standoff between the demonstrators and campus security.

Office Occupation

As the confrontation heightened, approximately 4 p.m., a group of students stormed into the main administration building, ultimately seizing President Starr's office. The protesters, wearing masks and refusing to identify themselves, engaged in a series of disruptive actions, including the use of derogatory language towards campus officials.

In addition to occupying the office, the protesters reportedly vandalized university property, causing significant damage to the interior of the building.

In response to the occupation, law enforcement officers, including riot police, were called to the scene. Nineteen students were charged with trespassing, and one individual faced an additional charge of obstruction of justice. Although all charges were later dropped, Pomona College announced the expulsion of the students involved in the office occupation.

READ ALSO: Stony Brook University Arrests Trigger Campus Controversy

Consequences and Fallout

President Starr addressed the incident in a letter to the campus community, condemning the protesters' actions as part of an "escalating series of incidents" on campus. She emphasized that the disruption caused by the protest was unacceptable and undermined the college's commitment to open dialogue and respectful discourse.

In addition to the expulsion of Pomona College students, individuals from other Claremont Colleges involved in the protest face repercussions. While they were not expelled, they have been banned from the Pomona campus and could face disciplinary measures at their respective colleges.

The incident has sparked debates about freedom of expression, campus safety, and the appropriate response to student activism. Some have criticized the college's decision to expel students, arguing that it stifles dissent and undermines the principles of academic freedom. Others support the administration's actions, citing the need to maintain order and ensure the safety of all members of the campus community.

As tensions simmer, Pomona College and its affiliated institutions face the challenge of fostering a campus environment that encourages free expression while upholding the values of civility and respect.

Impact on Campus Culture

The fallout from the protest and subsequent expulsions has deeply affected the campus community. Many students, regardless of their stance on the protest, feel disillusioned and concerned about the state of campus discourse. Faculty members have also expressed unease about the implications for academic freedom and the ability to engage in open dialogue.

Student organizations and campus leaders are working to address the underlying issues that led to the protest, including concerns about institutional policies, social justice, and human rights. Dialogue sessions, town hall meetings, and workshops are being organized to facilitate discussions and promote understanding among different segments of the campus population.

RELATED ARTICLE: Smith College Students Occupy Hall Demanding Divestment From Weapons Manufacturers

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