This year, Pomona College’s 4/7 Day event, hosted by the Pomona Events Committee, was celebrated not on Pomona’s campus next to the wide-open spaces of Marston Quad, but in a virtual format where hundreds of students gathered via Zoom.
Along with the gift card received just for attending the event, many participants walked away with additional prizes via the “Wheel of Fortune” and “Games and Trivia” rooms. The other three rooms –– “Improv,” “Music” and “Art With Alexa” –– focused on community building and social interactions.
Despite the online nature of the celebration, which honors Pomona’s tight-knit and long-held connection with the number 47, each activity consistently held numbers ranging from 10 to as many as 80 students.
“Seeing people stay the entire time, moving throughout the rooms, made me feel good, because it felt like I provided a space for people to enjoy themselves and have a good time,” Commissioner of Campus Events Immacula Celestin PO ’21 said. “Even the advertisement process and getting people excited for [the event] was definitely the most gratifying part.”
The online audience made much of the activities possible. In the “Wheel of Fortune” room, Celestin chose contestants based on the “Raise Hand” function in Zoom, where students would remain on mute until it was their turn to virtually stand before the wheel. Manned by Celestin, a virtual wheel determined what prize the participants would win, from virtual high-fives and compliments to Coop Store and Grubhub gift cards. The chat, open to all, boasted cheers and playful jeers as the wheel spun.
In the “Games and Trivia” room, host Timi Adelakun PO ’24 served the role of a commentator while running Kahoot! games, speaking upon the changing trends of the leaderboard and adding personal comments about every answer he found interesting. The Kahoot! games included topics like matching comedic quotes with the appropriate 5C students — did a Pitzer student mutter that joke about falling into a cactus, or was it a Mudder? — and quizzes on pop culture and the Mandela effect.
“I specifically enjoyed the Mandela effect because it was a delicate game where we got to compare what you thought happens and then versus what reality is,” Adelakun said. “A lot of people really messed up on that one; the board dramatically switched after every question. But it was interesting, very fun and I’m still shocked by the results [of the questions] today.”
When one question tested participants’ memory of Tony the Tiger’s Frosted Flakes catchphrase — “Theyyy’re great!” or “They’re grrrreat!” — students flocked to the chat to compare clips of commercials. Adelakun couldn’t help but screen share to set the record straight. (Research concluded that, indeed, Tony’s stress is on “great.”)
With this marking his first year coordinating a 4/7 event, Adelakun was one of three key PEC members who worked to advertise the occurrence of the celebration. Considering “the more than usual” turnout rate, he was more than satisfied about the outcome of his room.
“I don’t think I felt the thrill of playing trivia in such a long time [considering] I’m a really competitive person,” Selena Lopez PO ’22 said. “Living with five other Pomona students, my housemates and I were in the thrill of being excited for something; having this event where I was genuinely really excited was definitely a highlight of [that] night.”
In the “Improv” room, theater and dance professor Giovanni Ortega encouraged participants to share their stories about personal memorabilia. Similar to a show-and-tell type setting, each member of the room shared the sentiment behind a special object via popcorn-style.
“Especially for [that] night, I wanted to replicate the sense of community — that people are still there for each other, celebrating and gathering together outside the stress of academics,” Ortega said. “We even saw a ‘happy birthday’ banner for someone, and that was very festive; we started singing ‘Happy Birthday’ for her even though that was originally not a part of the event. So even in those moments, joy was being manifested.”
In the more intimate “Art with Alexa” event, Alexa Ramirez PO ’22 hosted a virtual art session featuring the creation of a stuffed penguin animal. She broke down the artistic process step by step, while providing insight on her unique background and perspectives of being a digital artist.
“I despise when people say that they can’t do art; anyone can do art,” Ramirez said during the meeting. “Art isn’t even about the final product; it’s about the process. Much of society is so obsessed with the final product; I think it shouldn’t be that way.”
The 4/7 event also provided a calming space away from the festivities of the other events. Dubbed as the “Music” event, the hosts simply took recommendations from the chat window of the Zoom meeting, playing famous music videos of artists such as Wizkid and Bad Bunny. Students would relax and share what was trending in their playlist in this setting.
Although the 4/7 virtual event did serve its purpose, many still longed for the on-campus festivities and celebrations of the past.
“The physical energy given off [during the event] was not the same as if we were there together,” Ortega said. “There’s so many other activities we could have done; even just ‘Pass the Clap,’ ‘Passing the Energy Ball,’ and ‘Ball Wall Pin Screw’ is so much fun when you’re not stuck in this [Zoom] box format that we have.”
Despite these shortcomings, PEC has optimism going forward for next year’s celebration — which could be in person.
“Because I am elected to be the events commissioner for next year, I hope to bring back some of the more classic events that we have during the 4/7 event, like Nochella,” Adelakun said. “Even though I’m not really sure on how coronavirus is going to affect social interactions, I hope to find alternative ways to continue to build community.”