Pomona College Magazine
Volume 41. No. 2.
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Pomona College Magazine is published three times a year by Pomona College
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Online Editor: Mark Kendall

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Summers on campus used to be quiet. Not any more.

When the long sweltering afternoons of July roll around, the College traditionally is on summer break. In the past, that has meant a campus practically devoid of students. Instead of the cacophony of people motoring through Marston Quad on foot and on skateboard, the only sound, on those past summer days, was the noise of construction work.

Over the past few years, however, summertime at Pomona has taken on a life of its own. Continuing a recent trend, a record 220 students registered for housing on campus during the summer of 2005, including 65 students who accepted research grants from the College.

“We go through student withdrawal, so it’s been great to have students around,” said Sarah Visser, assistant director of the Smith Campus Center and Student Programs and coordinator of Summer Programming. “It has been more energetic this summer. It’s more of a continuation of the school year, which is nice.”

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) began awarding grants eight years ago, offering a limited number of students the opportunity to stay on campus and focus their academic pursuits. This year, more than 100 students applied for grants, ranging in subject matter from the thermo-tolerance of creosote bushes to studies of the College’s Earth Dome. Students enjoy the fact that they can work closely with their favorite professors, and it doesn’t hurt that they get paid competitive salaries to do so.

“Last summer I worked side by side with Professor (Alfred) Kwok in a lab, and we were doing very similar work. It’s like real science,” said Robby Gerrity ’06, who is working in the math department this summer on a project funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Summer work is similarly rewarding for the professors and mentors who have the opportunity to get to know their students in a more relaxed environment.

“They really like watching the progress unfold with their students, who develop sharper research skills and a deeper interest in their field, and sometimes get excited about grad school,” said Maureen McCluney, who coordinated the SURP program on behalf of the Dean of the College.

But students aren’t the only ones inhabiting the hallways. When the academic year finishes in May, nearly all of the dorms are handed over to Summer Conferences and Special Programs, which supervises the nearly 1,000 attendees living in Pomona’s residence halls, eating in the dining halls and making use of the sporting fields and academic buildings.

This summer, conferences included an English handbell ringing conference, the National Cello Institute and a meeting of 400 credit union managers.

The new faces in the dining halls, laidback atmosphere and 9-to-5 hours all help make living on campus during the summer a distinctly different experience for Pomona students.

“Nothing is rushed over the summer,” said Galen Benshoof ’06, who is researching the extent to which the natural resource curse afflicts Venezuela. “People seem to have time for everything, which is different for Pomona students. We’re more likely to just sit around and talk.”

The most common place for students to run into each other is in one of the two kitchen areas in Mudd-Blaisdell. Nearly every night of the week, the smell of homemade dinner wafts through the air-conditioned halls, often accompanied by charcoal briquettes smoldering in the courtyard. In the back hall of Mudd, a weekly bowling tradition has manifested itself and e-mails requesting attendance at Frisbee or kick-around soccer games are frequent.

These efforts are aided by Summer Programming, which subsidizes the cost of attending events like Dodger games or trips to the local water park and collects students in the “Sagecoach”—Pomona’s 25-passenger excursion bus—to get off campus to play at the beach or check out a new pizzeria. The sign-up list for such events fills up days in advance—popular activities like the IMAX screening of Batman Begins selling out in just two hours—with 70–80 students attending every event.

“The organized activities serve as a great avenue to just relax and get to know some of the other students who are here over the summer,” said Kara Toles ’07. “I’ve gotten to see and do things this summer that I’ve never seen or done before.”
—Lori DesRochers ’06

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by Pomona College
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