Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Delta Sigma/Delta Upsilon practice rooms in Smith Union had been empty prior to last year. They were funded and stocked with equipment in 2009. In addition, the article also wrongly implied that the Student Activities Office assumes responsibility for funding the practice rooms. Student Activities works with Delta Sigma/Delta Upsilon fund to stock these rooms. We regret the errors.
The David Saul Smith Union has become the heart of a revitalized music scene on campus thanks to the collaboration and vision of a single student organization—the Bowdoin Music Collective (BMC).
BMC aims to bring together student musicians and promote a more lively, dynamic music scene at Bowdoin. As such, the group coordinates a variety of events on and off campus such as the annual “Battle of the Bands.”
The collective’s most recently, has been focused on revitalizing the practice rooms and recording studio in Smith Union. They want these rooms to be places where anyone can practice or explore his or her musical abilities. The rooms are located on the ground floor, at the bottom of the steps near the west entrance to Smith Union. The rooms were created and stocked with a gift from Delta Sigma/Delta Upsilon, a former college fraternity, as non-academic music spaces for students in 2009.
Delta Sigma/Delta Upsilon has funded a number of other arts initiatives including an annual student art competition and student art fellowships, with a fund it created from selling its fraternity house after fraternities were outlawed at Bowdoin.
Over the course of several months, BMC member Anna Hamilton ’20 has been working to make sure these facilities are stocked with up-to-date, well-organized equipment.
“I try to clear up those spaces because there is a lot of just like junk in there, there are a lot of things that do not work, I think a lot of people just do not respect [the space]. So my idea was to just clean it up and organize it and hold people accountable,” said Hamilton.
Last year she decided to get in contact with Student Activities to pursue funding for this effort. The Student Activities Office does not directly fund these rooms, directly, but it works with Delta Sigma/Delta Upsilon to address the needs of students and fund necessary equipment to the space, according to Laurel Varnell, assistant director of student activities.
Though Hamilton has not yet been able to receive funding for the big equipment upgrades she wants, she took it upon herself to begin improving the space. She found herself wrapping up wires and filling bins – eventually she landed herself a job with Student Activities.
“So I approached Student Activities with one of my friends who was a senior and was just like – ‘I want to go in and just clean it up,’” said Hamilton. “‘I have some ideas, if you’d consider funding that it would be cool, but in the meantime I’m just going to go wrap some chords, get some plastic bins, and sort some stuff.’ And then I ended up getting a job out of it.”
Today, she works closely with BMC and Student Activities to help the club achieve its myriad of goals, all of which are aimed at reinvigorating the music scene at Bowdoin.
“Part of [Hamilton’s] job is cataloguing the equipment, working to get [it] repaired [and] working with Student Activities,” said BMC Co-President Evan Schweikert ’18.
The group hopes to eventually obtain recording studio access for students not involved in academic music courses. The first step is to organize afternoon sessions for students to come and familiarize themselves with the equipment.
BMC hopes to start advertising the space in Smith Union to all students who want to jam out and hang out.
“So I got a carpet, I got a chair, I’m working on a getting a couch,” said Hamilton. “So I thought it could be this hangout space which then would get people to go and make music there and then it would become like this music scene.”
“There is a need for this because people like music. Music makes the campus a better place,” Schweikert said.
Co-President Evelyn Beliveau ’19 echoed Schweikert’s sentiment.
“I think there is a lot of talent on this campus,” she said. “People want to begin performing, and we want to facilitate that and get people playing.”
Amanda Newman contributed to the reporting of this article.