The sponsor group is a unique and effective concept to promote a smooth transition into the Pomona College experience for first-years. Sponsor groups provide students an accessible, close group of companions to eat meals and socialize with for the extent of their first year at Pomona.
My sole issue with sponsor groups is the lack of diversity they promote. Sponsor groups, in an attempt to promote better cohesion, collect like-minded individuals into a single hall. A randomized set of sponsor groups would better spread diversity and ensure that students are introduced to a heterogeneous set of lifestyles, opinions and backgrounds.
Grouping people who share common social and academic interests is part of Pomona’s honorable intention to help promote unified sponsor groups. By placing people with similar interests together, Pomona believes it is creating a more unified sense of community.
However, such gathering of like-minded individuals into sponsor groups based on shared interests promotes a lack of diversity. People with similar academic and personal interests will generally share similar beliefs and similar opinions.
Surrounding first-years with like-minded students is corrosive to academic and personal development. Being around people with similar views and opinions unavoidably leads to stagnation and less growth of acceptance and tolerance.
Packing people with similar interests into the same sponsor group subtly insinuates that only people with similar interests and academic views will get along. This sentiment is downright offensive. I adamantly believe diversity and a lack of shared experiences only strengthens friendships and would build more cohesion within sponsor groups.
Randomization, while not perfect, is the only way to truly ensure that Pomona groups will accurately reflect the diversity found within Pomona.
The exceptions to this rule are substance-free sponsor groups. Substance-free housing is ideal for those who are resolute about being removed from any alcohol or drug use.
This issue would be of little importance if sponsor groups weren’t so essential to the Pomona College experience. The sheer amount of time the average first-year student spends with the sponsor group socializing, eating meals, attending various school-related functions and visiting off-campus attractions warrants attention to this issue. If sponsor groups are such an important part of the first-year experience, they should promote the tenet of diversity that Pomona values.
I find it odd that Pomona goes to great lengths to promote diversity but still has a non-randomized set of sponsor groups that reduces the amount of diversity students encounter in their first year. A randomized sponsor group would promote diversity crucial to the intellectual and personal development of any Pomona first-year.