Long after the task of easing the transition from home to dorm life has ended, Pomona College sponsors are now required to attend spring-semester training sessions. Though training has historically been completed at the beginning of the year, the Office of Campus Life (OCL) is seeking to further develop the current sponsors’ conflict-resolution and communication skills this semester in three workshops.
Designed in 1927 and unique to Pomona, the sponsor program groups ten to twenty first-year students in residence halls with two sophomore sponsors who help the first-years adjust to college life. Sponsors complete an in-depth application process and undergo intensive training before and during first-year orientation. In the past, the OCL has organized three additional sponsor training sessions during the middle of fall semester, but those sessions had to be delayed to the spring this year, said Ric Townes, Dean of Campus Life.
“Towards the end of fall semester, the campus had a few other things going on that took up a lot of attention, so the training sessions got moved to the back burner,” Townes said.
Two sessions have already occurred. The first involved a discussion on conflict resolution led by Senior Associate of Campus Life Frank Bedoya. During the second session, the Career Development Office explained the results of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test, a personality test that sponsors were required to complete over the summer. The MBTI is designed to identify test takers’ personalities on the spectra of “Extraversion-Introversion,” “Sensing-intuition,” “Thinking-Feeling,” and “Judging-Perceiving.”
Sergio Marin, Project Manager for the Draper Center for Community Partnerships, is set to lead the third training session, which is scheduled for this Saturday and will cover conversation facilitation.
“It’s important to approach second semester as a sponsor with as much spunk as first semester,” Head Sponsor Alex Garver PO ‘12 wrote in an e-mail to Wig Hall sponsors. The additional training sessions are designed to “talk a bit about what to expect this semester and also build skills that should be useful in the future,” he said.
Some sponsors have questioned the timeliness of the spring semester training sessions.
“I feel like it would have been more useful if the Myers-Briggs session had been earlier on,” Wig Hall Sponsor Jenny He PO ’14 said. “We did the personality surveys over the summer, so the fact that they brought it up this late in the year felt kind of random.”
“I think overall people were a bit confused generally as to why we’re doing more sponsor training now that we’ve had a semester of being a Sponsor under our belt,” Harwood Court Sponsor Hanna Levin PO ’14 said.
According to Townes, one of the goals of involving staff from the Career Development Office and the Draper Center in the spring training sessions is to improve sponsors’ ability to connect their “sponsees” to other on-campus organizations.
“The hope is to build those kinds of connections between the program that is supporting first-years and these other parts of the college community,” Townes said. “I hope this is a future direction of the sponsor program.”