OPINION: Pomona College’s orientation has so much potential

In just a few months, the school year will be over and attention will shift toward orientation for the class of 2023. If it’s anything like the orientation for my year, it leaves room for much improvement.

Our orientation this past August lasted 10 days. For international students, it was a whopping 14 days. As anyone attending the information sessions could attest, they became increasingly sparse with each passing day.

The administration tried to remedy this by announcing plans last December to move Orientation Adventure to students’ sophomore year. But backlash from the Pomona community led the administration to reverse the decision within a week.

OA should, though, be one of the first things we do upon getting to campus or should take place after students finish meeting with their advisors and working out their class registration.

Students looking to place into certain language or STEM classes took placement tests the day before OA, yet they wouldn’t be meeting for classes or registering for classes for another week. In between that time, we went on OA, leaving many people nervous about class registration because the placement tests already put people in that mindset.

During our 10 days of orientation, it was also very easy to forget there were four other colleges right on our doorstep. Besides clubs, there was very little to no mention of the shared resources, including classes, Athenaeum talks and shared fellowships.

Our unique system here in Claremont offers us the opportunity for some special orientation opportunities. For instance, we could set up a series of lunches on Marston Quad or Walker Beach with a couple students from each college sitting at each table. This could really help to expand those inter-college friendships beyond just the sports teams in those early days.

With first-years limited to one class outside of Pomona in their first semester, orientation perhaps offers one of the best chances to foster this 5C unity. While attempts to foster class unity during orientation are admirable, the simple fact is that Pomona’s entire first-year class will spend the next 10 months living right next to each other on South Campus.

Just last week, the Outdoor Education Center offered a night trip to go rock climbing, and little events such as these could be open to all 5C first-years and sprinkled throughout orientation. While it’s a good idea to keep the main orientation trips college-specific, these smaller events could make the rest of orientation more exciting and memorable.

Additionally, more practical information could be shared during orientation such as the best times to avoid crowded dining halls or the quietest study spots.

Even though the incident with moving OA demonstrated that widespread student input can sway the administration’s decisions, it is best not to let it get to that point. We should freely express our concerns and suggestions in the forums open to us, whether it be the meetings last month about orientation or administration office hours.

There can be more meaningful experience during orientation besides OA if we make our voices heard.


Christopher Murdy PO ’22 is an intended international relations major from Lido Beach, New York. Agree? Disagree? Different suggestions? Email him at christopher.murdy@pomona.edu.

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