Yearbook Photo Update


To the Occidental Community:

I write today to update you regarding our ongoing discussion about yearbook photographs. As I said last Friday, images of this kind, and the history and attitudes they represent, are antithetical to Occidental’s mission and values. As part of that discussion, I have talked to many members of our community who have asked what will become of the name of the new pool which will open this fall.

Jenny and Barry Crosthwaite gave to the pool at the College’s request. It was our idea to honor them by naming the pool after them. I have had multiple conversations with Jenny and Barry in recent days, and I wanted to share the result of those discussions. We offered to return their donation, but instead of withdrawing their gift they reaffirmed their desire to continue to give back to Oxy. Jenny and Barry’s devotion to this institution remains steadfast. Throughout their involvement with their alma mater they have never hesitated to support the priorities of the College.

Because of their belief in the College and its mission, we have mutually agreed to redirect their gift from the pool to an endowed scholarship for first-generation students and to support women’s sports. These areas reflect their own Oxy experience--Barry as a first-generation student and Jenny as an accomplished athlete. In light of this decision, the College will revisit the naming of the pool, a conversation which will include input from the Oxy community.

Barry and Jenny also sent me a message (below) that they would like to share with the community.

We all have much to reflect on in the coming weeks as we discuss the College’s past, present and future. I look forward to continuing the important conversation we have begun with the Oxy community.

Jonathan Veitch
President

 

Community Letter from Jenny and Barry Crosthwaite

 

Dear Members of the Occidental Community,

We wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate our earlier comments regarding our yearbook photos--our actions were insensitive and we are sorry for the pain we have caused.

We want everyone in the Occidental community to know that our love for Oxy—and our commitment to its mission and values—remains undiminished. It is impossible to calculate the value of what we have learned at, and from, Occidental. The friendships we have made at Oxy have enriched our lives beyond reckoning.

This is why we will continue to give back to Oxy, and we hope that alumni, parents and faculty will join us in supporting the College in ways that reflect their values and priorities.

We gave a gift to the pool with the intent that our participation would encourage others to join us in contributing to the project. The College very kindly suggested our name should be used on the pool. We now believe it is best to withdraw our names from consideration.

In light of that decision, the College offered to return our gift. However, we are strongly committed to giving back to the institution that has meant so much to us. In consultation with the College, we have agreed to reinvest it into an endowed scholarship for economically disadvantaged students who are the first in their family to attend college. Barry was the first person in his family to go to college, and he wants to make sure that others from similar circumstances can enjoy the benefits of an Occidental education. We are also redirecting our gift into an endowment that will support Oxy’s women’s athletics. Jenny’s experience as an Oxy athlete was transformative for her, and she wants to ensure that future generations of women athletes have the opportunity to enjoy the competition and camaraderie that was so meaningful to her.

This has been a profound learning experience for us and we hope that our actions will be constructive as the College moves forward.

Jenny Townsend '84
Barry Crosthwaite '80