Oil Spill in the Grove House

by Belmont Pinger

Contributing Writer

Courtesy of google images
Courtesy of google images


Pitzer’s orange trees were recently clear-cut for oil extraction. The mounds were turned into a dusty plot where cattle are densely packed for industrial meat production.


No, that’s just the deforestation of the tar sands in Canada. Those feedlots are in the central valley.


“To the left we have the grove house, home to the locally sourced student run café, a home Pitzer actually bought for 1 dollar in order to save it from demolition.”


Murals of activism, social criticism, free love on the mounds, LEED certified dorms.


In a recent conversation with President Trombley, she aptly stated, “John Atherton was an Iconoclast.”


Our founder was a person who attacked cherished beliefs and institutions. He came from CMC and could have started an identical college, but he was a poet and established an educational environment that questioned social norms.


Pitzer has a history of embracing a different ideology. From the college’s clothing optional policy, to its current ambivalence towards standardized testing, the community as a whole has acted and defined itself in contrast to generally embraced social paradigms. 


It does not take an extremely discerning eye to see that the college does not operate on a pure foundation of social justice and environmental sensitivity.


Our workers complain that with 3 percent increases in the cost of insurance, and 2 percent increases in pay, the burden of food and medical costs are sometimes too great to raise a family.


We say we’re different, but do we live differently? Do we criticize the cost of our comfort?


California is currently in the greatest drought in recorded history the repercussions of climate change are at our door. Our fountain is on and our money is invested with the fossil fuel industry.


We were admitted to the school after being asked to explain how our actions and goals reflected Pitzer’s core values. I for one felt like my answers were scrutinized to a pretty high standard.


Based on the college’s current practices its answer might be, “I would gradually divest in environmentally destructive companies, as long as my dividends were not significantly hurt and would pay my workers a living wage and give them affordable health care, as long as our budget is balanced for the new year. My commitment to the environment extends to the building of new dorms that enable all our students to reduce consumption while still living the exact same lifestyle.”

It seems that Pitzer’s history of rejecting embedded social paradigms has been sadly coupled with a crippled ability to create and envision a community that actually reflects its values.

We need to live differently.

I propose a sustainable agriculture program be created and a permanent farm be created in the footprint of Holden. Next time you walk by the building, imagine the feeling of your knees in the soil and your hands in the dirt. This program would give students an idea of the sweat, effort, and love that goes into growing the food our fantastic cafeteria serves.

It would also give them a place to conduct experiments on drought resistance agriculture and the business of managing a farm. An Environmental Analysis major could leave with the skills needed to start a farm and a Biology major could seek an industry that supported small local farms as opposed to one of monoculture.  The produce would go to our cafeteria and allow them to buy more local products. Our relationship with the earth needs to change.

“What are you doing today to create justice?”

Fuck the days of Camp Pitzer. We must hold ourselves to a more productive standard.

Are we being educated to be critical or to live in comfortable ignorance while supporting unjust systems of agriculture, energy, and labor?

Pitzer must not change its values, but actually devote itself towards implementing them. 

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