In an aim to improve the sponsor group experience, in which incoming Pomona College students live in halls with two older students who help them transition into the school, the Residence Hall Staff will modify the current system so that many sponsor groups will have three, instead of only two, sponsors.
“For the last several years, we’ve been surveying first-years and sponsors, and there’s a couple threads that kind of come through,” Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes said. “We’ve found that the smaller the sponsor group, the more likely the student is to have had a great experience. When they’re smaller, you can see the difference in satisfaction rates.”
However, it was not feasible to reduce the size of the actual sponsor groups, which usually have between 10 and 20 first-year students.
“Architecturally speaking, that’s hard to do because some of the sponsor group sizes are framed around the architecture of the building,” Townes said. “We didn’t want to have two sponsor groups with empty beds in the middle because those rooms would be deferred housing, and it could be anyone who lived there.”
Since dividing the large sponsor groups would be difficult, discussions turned toward adding a third sponsor.
“You can contribute to the sponsor group if you can cut down on the sponsor-to-student ratio,” Townes said.
Most groups with a third sponsor will be either in Mudd-Blaisdell Residence Hall or Harwood Court Residence Hall where many sponsor groups are larger, according to Townes. The reduced ratio is hoped to benefit both the sponsees and the sponsors.
“The added benefits are twofold. First, our focus is on the sponsors as well as the first-years. We hope adding a third sponsor, especially to some of the large groups, will lessen the burden on the sponsors, so they will be better able to focus on academics and other things,” Townes said. “Number two, when you add a third sponsor, you get three people you can use as a resource.”
Evan Hamaguchi PO ’16, who will be a sponsor in a group of three next year, thought the changes would have a positive effect on sponsor groups.
“It also makes room for an extra viewpoint on academics, student lifestyles, and points of discussion among the sponsor group,” Hamaguchi said.
Julia Swanson PO ’16, who will also be in a three-sponsor team, believes that an added sponsor will create a better experience for the first-years.
“More sponsors equal more options for our sponsees,” she said. “What I mean is everyone can bond and get help from the sponsors that suit their personality the best.”
The three-sponsor system was implemented for different purposes than the system of alternate sponsors that is currently in place. The alternate sponsor would only step into the job if one of the two sponsors on the hall had to move out, which happens occasionally.
“We don’t want to have ghost sponsors, so a couple of years ago, we decided to create what we then called ‘alternate’ sponsors, in case we had a ghost sponsor or, as in the case of this year, somebody steps out for whatever reason. We wanted a viable way to replace them,” Townes said. But “it didn’t really work. We couldn’t get people who wanted to do it, and we didn’t do a good job of articulating what their responsibilities are.”