Letter: Head Sponsors Discuss De-sponsorship

Dear Editor,

In light of the recent events that led to a de-sponsorship, we would like to respond to the many students who have discussed the situation with the Head Sponsors and each other. This letter is an effort to make our own intentions at the Office of Campus Life clearer and to eliminate widespread misunderstanding of this particular issue. As Head Sponsors, we participated in this decision-making process; we all supported its outcome.Regardless of any student’s position on this particular de-sponsoring, we would appreciate a listening ear and respect for our perspective. We would first like to address Luke Willert, who recently wrote an Opinions piece focusing on the injustice of losing his sponsor. As Luke’s Head Sponsor, Leah Steuer will be the first to agree with him: his sponsor group benefited enormously from the support and compassion they received from both sponsors. The Head Sponsors had a difficult time choosing exactly the right individuals for this job, and we felt that Luke’s sponsor was very well suited to a position that required dedication, common sense, and strength of character. Our own jobs depend on the reliability and enthusiasm of the sponsors, and Leah received that in spades from this particular individual. However, a sponsor must also have respect for the policies of the College and the standards of OCL. Although a sponsor is technically a volunteer, he/she is a rigorously selected one and has signed on for a year-long commitment. A sponsor is probably the most prominent role model of any student leader on campus – they shape the lives of first-years who are looking for an anchor in a completely new environment. Luke talks about a “family” atmosphere and the comfort of having someone to confide in. However, a sponsor also embodies the spirit of Pomona (and all of its expectations and regulations) to first-years, and regardless of his/her personal feelings toward College policy, he/she is required to uphold it and encourage first-years to respect it even as they critically examine it. This is the part of the position which the sponsor in question did not completely fulfill.OCL gives each sponsor a contract which details not only their responsibilities as a live-in mentor, but their new role as an “agent of the College.” The contract is hardly oppressive in nature (and is free for anyone’s review at OCL). This sponsor was involved in several policy violations dating to last spring, right after this year’s group of sponsors was hired. In light of this record and the new knowledge of another policy violation, the Head Sponsors and Deans made the decision to follow through with our repeated warnings and de-sponsor the individual.

Personally, we are extremely frustrated with accusations that those representing the Sponsor Program make frivolous or uninformed decisions which are based on the best interests of the College and not the students. All four of us are former sponsors; we took the position of Head Sponsor because we care immensely about the well-being of first-years and student leaders alike. Exactly the same can be said of the other Head Sponsors and Deans Ric Townes and Frank Bedoya. De-sponsoring is the absolute last resort for OCL and it was one of the most stressful, trying things we have been required to participate in. De-sponsoring is an inconvenience for every single person affected. We have a lot of compassion for the sponsor group affected by this and are prepared to help them move on as comfortably as possible.

Historically, TSL is a student-controlled forum which often pits student stances against the actions of the administration. We sincerely hope that your readers will remember that fellow students like the Head Sponsors also have a hand in the goings-on of campus institutions, and have an equal stake in decisions like these. Thank you for respecting the time and energy we pour into making College life comfortable and productive for all.

Head Sponsors, 2009-2010Zach Barnett ‘11Katarina Hicks ‘10Courtland Kouassiaman ‘11Leah Steuer ‘11

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