Happy New Year!
As the holidays come to a close, I’ve been contemplating my first semester at Pomona and more specifically, inspired by my biological family, my adopted Pomona family. For the most part, at least for me, this boils down to the sponsor group.
Before I came to Pomona, I didn’t even realize sponsor groups were a thing. Don’t ask me how, in all the research and visiting and planning, I didn’t discover this fundamental facet of the freshman experience. Right after I got my housing assignment email, I was also invited to a Facebook group, “Harwood 1 West Class of 2017,” which, as I soon discovered, was my sponsor group.
The sponsor group is a mostly unique Pomona tradition: It’s essentially a formalized name for everyone who lives in your hall plus two or three sophomore sponsors, who function as mentors, friends, confidantes, whatever you need them to be. Every sponsor (and “spogro,” as sponsor groups are affectionately called) is a little different, but many are flexible with the needs of their sponsees. In fact, recently Pomona held a forum/discussion called “Consider the Sponsor Group” (click the title for The Student Life article covering it) to get feedback on student experiences, and whether the institution was meeting its goal of creating a safe, comfortable zone for the transition into college life.
So, to throw in my two cents, here are a few stories about life in H1W and my wonderful, quirky, utterly irreplaceable sponsor group.
In the first week after Orientation Adventure (if you don’t know what that is, check out its official description and one blogger’s experience), I was with my sponsor group about 16/7 – almost every waking hour. We ate meals together, went to discussion groups together, sat through assemblies together. I distinctly remember being very impressed with the genuinely caring, empathetic way my sponsors addressed us and led the discussions on sensitive topics like community, sex, and alcohol. This was in direct contrast to one of my spiblings, who continually made snarky, insensitive comments. As it happens, he’s now one of my best friends.
All of the people in the spogro were chosen for a reason; in fact, roommates are chosen after the sponsor groups are established. What I discovered, and what the Pomona housing deities must have known, is that had I not spent as much time with that one irritation-turned-bff, I would have never realized what a genuinely awesome, smart, interesting, caring person he is. He surely has quirks, but I’m thankful he lives just down the hall. It certainly facilitates our 3 a.m. conversations and negotiations over dining halls (much like my roommate Vannessa, he dislikes the most convenient dining hall – it’s a constant tussle).
As we all branched out, hanging out with our friends from OA and new friends from classes and such, the sponsor group was a less important part of social life. In my spogro, there’s a core group of about five who still hang out pretty much every day and eat meals together. The upshot is that, for everyone, there’s a reliable group of people to eat meals with, and for those who usually join that group, there’s a built-in group of friends in the hall. In other spogros, this isn’t the case – it all depends on how your group functions. So some groups (like all those in the second floor of Lyon) are extremely close-knit, while others (like the very large ones in Harwood East) tend to break up a little more.
See the next post for more!