By Eric Gofen ’19
On Thursday nights Pomona students flock to the math lounge. Troves of Sagehens pause their studying and extracurricular activities to partake in a small feast. They might come for Trader Joe’s chips, but they stay for the mathematical banter.
Math Snack is just one activity the department puts on each week. Others include Math Lunches, Colloquium talks by distinguished professors, tech workshops for student development, and retreats to Pomona’s famous Halona Lodge. Math professors plan many of these events, but some are generated by the Math Liaisons, a position I’m lucky enough to currently hold.
Math Liaisons—and student Liaisons in other departments—work as the connecting force between professors and students. Pomona’s six Math Liaisons communicate issues of all kinds from the students to our professors. We’re resources for every student as well, not just the math majors.
Liaisons in different departments across campus are also working to create cross-disciplinary events. These often occur in the Hive—a center for collaborative creation and exploration—and are open to all students at the Claremont Colleges. Origami is one fun past example, where students gathered to combine their love of geometry and crafting. Liaisons also schedule fun inter-department events like math v. physics dodgeball followed by a pizza picnic to connect students studying parallel subjects.
This past weekend students from all grades and three professors from the math department went on a trip to Halona. Activities included a casual group hike, cooking and eating dinner together, board games, math riddles, and informal group bonding. I found a nice balance of making new mathematically minded friends and hanging out with the people I love to study with already. It was also a fantastic and unique experience to bond with my professors outside the classroom—while rock climbing during our hike and playing Sorry! with their young children. These Halona ventures bring departments closer by creating a sense of community that extends off campus.
This year, the math department is doing an outside review, which involves professors from other colleges coming to Claremont to sit in on classes and talk to faculty and students about the successes of the department and also possible areas for improvement. I’m excited that Liaisons will be a part of the review process and will help by providing student insight for the reviewers.
Professors at Pomona want to make a positive difference in students’ lives, and for this reason being a Liaison is a wonderful opportunity. I always feel supported when making plans and communicating student opinions. Sometimes I feel like I’m not even necessary because professors are so amazing at reaching out to their individual students. Yet, when it’s time to plan the Thursday night Math Snack theme, we’re all chirping with thoughts.