Spend This Saturday with That Saturday Group

That Saturday Group, or TSG, is the club behind your weekly Chirps announcements for events like cookie decorating, bingo, pumpkin carving, laser tag, and scavenger hunts. As its name suggests, That Saturday Group is a campus-funded activities group that provides free entertainment every Saturday evening. Jasa Cocke, Pomona’s Drug and Alcohol Counselor, along with four student interns run TSG. The student interns and club regulars plan and organize the events, which are always held in accessible locations like South Campus residence hall lounges or the SCC.

Maria Ramirez PO ’12 has been enjoying TSG events since her first year at Pomona.

“TSG has a very welcoming environment and it provides an outlet for fun activities that you really can't find anywhere else on campus,” Ramirez said. Ramirez, whose favorite event is picture frame-making BFFL night, appreciated the opportunity to “release [her] creative juices and create really artsy, homemade projects.” 

For Roberto Mendez PO ’12, activities like laser tag and pumpkin carving first piqued his interest.

“I come from a low-income family, so I’d never carved a pumpkin before,” Mendez said. “Scavenger hunt? Gingerbread decorating? I never would have done that in my house, so I’ve definitely gotten a lot of opportunities I think I wouldn't have had.”

Mendez, now a student intern, created the club’s Facebook page and Twitter feed and runs the poll “It’s Survey Time” in an effort to involve more of the student body in event suggestions and planning. 

TSG has also hosted ping-pong tournaments, belly dancing classes, and open mic nights. A number of events, as Ola Gawlick PO ’14 says, are “geared toward the inner child... things you wouldn’t do on a normal day in college and wouldn’t normally have time for.”

Gawlick and Mendez touch on one of the two salient features of TSG: its emphasis on activities that are creative and inclusive. The other feature most strongly perceived by the student body is the absence of alcohol. A priority of TSG is to provide an alternative to substance-centered social environments. According to Cocke, TSG provides "social, interactive fun stuff that doesn’t involve alcohol, loud music, and hooking up... not that we’re opposed to all of those things!" 

TSG offers events from 8 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. so as to provide activities for students before they head out to the evening's big party.

“If students can have something to do without pre-gaming so heavily, they might have a better night,” Cocke said.

Events are usually attended by an assortment of students spanning all class years, some of whom go out afterwards and drink and some of whom do not. 

“TSG is a really great way to provide options for people who are substance-free that are still open and accessible to those who are not,” Neima Rahim PO ’13 said.

"My friends drink and I take them to most of the events and they love it,” Mendez agreed.

TSG’s reputation as a substance-free group can be a double-edged sword.

“People will have an opinion about it, but they’ve never shown up,” Cocke said. “I will have students who will say, ‘Yeah, but isn’t that for people who are sub-free, and I’m not sub-free.’”

The undeniable stigma toward “substance-free” activities may be perpetuated by the school itself more so than the students. The one-sentence advertisement for TSG on Pomona’s website only notes that the club puts on “fun, sub-free activities.” Cocke believes the sub-free and sub-optional housing structure may be partly to blame.

“Pomona has that climate where there is a divide between sub and non-sub halls, so anything labeled sub-free gets that connotation that Pomona has created,” Cocke said. 

“People think of TSG as a program designed solely for those who do not use substances. That really isn’t true, however, because even though I put on the events every Saturday night, I still have time to go out if I choose,” Hirut Mamo PO '13, student intern, said.

Several TSG events, like those held before the Harwood Halloween and Smiley Eighties parties, are intended to help students pick out and decorate costumes for the big parties.

Gawlick encourages students to drop preconceptions and stop by. “You come, you check it out, you don’t like it, you can leave, but there’s nothing to lose by stopping by. You never know; you might really enjoy it.” 

This Saturday night, TSG is hosting Painting by Numbers at the SCC.