Editorial Board: Sponsor Program Changes Warrant Wider Discussion

More changes are taking place in Pomona College’s Sponsor Group program (see article on page 1). Rather than two sophomore sponsors, who live with and mentor first-years in the residence halls, some groups will have three sponsors this fall.

While this Editorial Board is not necessarily opposed to these changes, we do recommend that the Dean of Students Office, Admissions Office, and Office of Campus Life (OCL) lead a wider-reaching community discussion about changing the Sponsor Program.

In assessing the faults and merits of the Sponsor Group program, interviewing only sponsors and first-years leaves upperclassmen, alumni, prospective students, and administrators—many of whom hold strong and relevant opinions about the issue—out of the discussion. Older students have witnessed first-hand how relationships with Sponsor Group members and sponsors have played out throughout the college experience after the first year. They have the ability to offer unique insight into how the program could be restructured and what elements should remain central to the program. Similarly, alumni have seen the Sponsor Group as it existed in different stages of its evolution, and they have valuable hindsight.

The Sponsor Group program is an absolutely integral part of the Pomona experience—one that is emphasized on campus tours more than almost any other characteristic of the college and that virtually all students feel strongly about in some way. Students beyond sponsors and first-years should be kept abreast of changes to the Sponsor Group system, and those students have a responsibility to engage in the discussion about moving forward. Many students disagreed with changes in gender requirements in the program last year, and it is similarly jarring to change the quantity of sponsors. While this Editorial Board does not disagree with last year’s modifications of gender requirements within sponsor pairs, or the new offering of more sponsors, these shifts will impact the future of the program and should thus be discussed throughout campus so all viewpoints can be considered. This will also strengthen the Sponsor Program by maintaining the desirability of sponsor positions and the student body’s belief in the program’s spirit.

By engaging in discourse about an institution that has shaped all Pomona experiences in some way, OCL could receive valuable insight into how to change (or not change) its policies not only to ensure a beneficial environment for students in their first year, but also to create a lasting positive impact for the next three.

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