Pomona College’s Sponsor Program will see some major changes for the 2021-22 academic year, Dean of Campus Life Josh Eisenberg told students via email late February.
As Pomona makes plans to bring students back to campus this fall, its class of 2024 and the class of 2025 will have never set foot on campus. This “unique situation” led the Office of Housing and Residence Life to recruit third and fourth-year students “to help the class of 2025 adjust to Pomona,” the email said.
Sponsors will continue doing “normal sponsor stuff” in the fall, which includes having “one-on-ones with sponsees,” receiving training and participating in orientation, the email said.
To accommodate the increased need for sponsors, those hired will not be asked to live with their sponsees in first-year residence halls unlike in previous years; sponsors will be allowed to live wherever their room draw places them, according to Eisenberg.
“Having had conversations with Pomona students over the past two years, we learned that although the Sponsor Program has been open to juniors and seniors, most did not seek out the opportunity because they did not want to live in first-year residence halls,” Pomona spokesperson Patricia Vest told TSL via email.
Some current sponsors feel as though the new guidelines take away from the experience of being a sponsor and the experiences that first-years and transfer students have with them.
“Many sponsors are referred to as ‘spaddy’ and ‘spommy,’ and having them live in North Campus, away from their sponsees in South Campus, is like having absent ‘sparents’ who only swing by every now and then,” Rohan Gowda PO ’23 told TSL via email.
“With sponsors being online, I think the biggest thing [first-years] missed was having a friend or two who looked out for them on campus,” Gowda said, adding that it was “incredibly helpful” to be able to go to his sponsors with all sorts of queries.
Additionally, some current sponsors have suggested the need for a conversation around payment of sponsors.
“Moving forward, I think that there needs to be some discussion by Pomona’s administration around paying sponsors either with some sort of stipend or discount on housing similar to what [residential advisers] tend to receive,” Christina Marsh PO ’23 told TSL via email.
“Sponsors do a lot for students … [and] there should be some form of compensation that way sponsors can worry less about other essential commitments like picking up more jobs to pay for their education and more about building connections with their first-years or transfers,” she said.
Pomona College did not respond to TSL for comment with regard to paying sponsors.
The sponsor application is currently open to Pomona students via Handshake.