College restores its alma mater

Pomona College’s much-debated alma mater, “Hail, Pomona, Hail,” has been restored as the school’s official song -- with restrictions.

In April, the college suspended the singing of it at graduation and other official events after concerns were raised about its history. The song does not contain any racist language although its lyrics apparently were written for a 1910 blackface minstrel show that was a baseball team fundraiser. A committee of faculty, alumni and students called for it to be replaced by a new school hymn.

However, this week Pomona College President David Oxtoby restored “Hail, Pomona, Hail” as the alma mater. In a written message, he said that “traditions, like people, should be judged on their merits, not on the basis of historical associations unconnected to their actual character.”

Oxtoby also noted that many current students are uncomfortable singing it. So “for the present,” the alma mater will not be sung at commencement or student welcome events, he said. Celebrants at alumni reunions and other gatherings are free to belt out “Till the heavens above shall ring to the name of Pomona.”


-- Larry Gordon