January 16, 2024
With red-painted hands, more than 50 students demanded the college to divest from weapons manufacturing and condemned the Nov. 29 arrest of a professor.
On the morning of Dec. 8, more than 50 students from across the Claremont Colleges interrupted a Pomona College admissions event held at the Estella Laboratory. Students aimed to express their grievances about Pomona College’s inaction regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the administration’s policies against student activist demonstrations.
The event involved a panel of 5C students speaking to high school counselors, which protestors eventually disrupted at around 11:19 AM.
After peacefully marching down Sixth Street and entering Estella’s auditorium, students denounced Pomona administrators for their actions regarding Palestine. The disruption served as an opportunity for 5C organizers to articulate their grievances outside of traditional student or faculty environments.
“Pomona says that they encourage all of their students to become educated, responsible citizens of the world. In reality, when students attempt to enact these values through engaging in on-campus organizing, Pomona threatens and attempts to silence us with disciplinary consequences,” said one protestor.
Students also addressed the arrest of a visiting Pomona professor, who was detained by the Claremont Police Department for “trespassing,” on November 29th, 2023. The professor was playing Palestinian music and voicing support for protesting students at the time of his arrest.
Towards the half-way point of the protest, the speakers communicated their reason for painting their hands red, meant to display the “blood on [Pomona College’s] hands” an image alluding to Pomona’s complicity in the ongoing violence in Gaza, due to their inability to meet the demands to divest from weapons manufacturing companies.
Throughout the five-minute disruption, student protestors implored the event attendees to understand Pomona College’s suppression of organizing (arising from student grievances towards President Gabi Starr’s statement on Oct. 25), recognize their collective privilege for visiting or attending the school while more than 20,000 Palestinians were dying in Gaza and shed light on the lack of care or resources for students of color in the midst of rising violence against their communities.
“Today, as you tour this beautiful Southern California campus, bombs are dropping on Gaza, destroying schools, hospitals and homes, martyring tens of thousands of people, and Pomona’s $2.8 billion dollar endowment is funding them.”
“Today, as you tour this beautiful Southern California campus, bombs are dropping on Gaza, destroying schools, hospitals and homes, martyring tens of thousands of people, and Pomona’s $2.8 billion dollar endowment is funding them,” said one protestor.
“[Pomona President] Gabi Starr and every single one of the 30 board of trustee members have mounting blood on their hands. If you choose to send your kids here, you too will have blood on your hands,” said one protester.
In a moment of silence following one of the speeches, a high school college counselor asked why the protesting students were wearing masks. Shortly after his question, the group exited the building, the students erupting into a chant heard at earlier actions: “Israel bombs, Pomona pays, how many kids did you kill today?”
The questioning high school counselor and a Pomona admissions staffer followed the organizers outside, recording them as they were leaving.
Protestors carried out another action on that same day, disrupting the annual Harry Potter-themed dinner. Both actions echoed the demands that Pomona Divest Apartheid listed on their Instagram account: divest completely from all weapons manufacturers and institutions that aid the occupation of Palestine; adhere to the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; publicly call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza; condemn Israeli apartheid and human rights violations; and institute anti-discrimination policies for Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, SWANA and other BIPOC students.
Issue 1 / Spring 2023
Setting the Standard
How Pomona workers won a historic $25 minimum wage; a new union in Claremont; Tony Hoang on organizingRead issue 1