Over the summer, the College made several upgrades to campus facilities that greeted us upon returning to school. Kresge Auditorium and the Beam classroom were revamped, there were renovations to the Convenience Store, and new computers were installed in Smith Union. Along with these visible additions, the College also invested millions of dollars in developments that a casual stroll through campus won't reveal. And while at first glance these changes are perhaps less tangible than the six-dollar pack of daintily seasoned almonds that you can now purchase from the C-Store, the behind-the-scenes transformations will have more lasting consequences for student life.
With the new Orbit system and the upcoming introduction of online course registration, the College has made good on its promise to increase the efficiency of our online resources and to better the day-to-day student experience. Last year, the College made substantial land acquisitions with its purchase of the Longfellow Elementary School and Brunswick Naval Air Station. While we welcome plans to improve campus, we question the absence of student involvement in these multi-million dollar projects.
In 2004, the College began to sketch a blueprint for long-term campus construction in partnership with the Chicago architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP. "The Bowdoin College Campus Master Plan" lays out possible designs for the campus in 2025 and 2050. A slideshow on the firm's website illustrates what the campus could look like upon the plan's completion. The crisp, computer-generated renderings anticipate the construction of a second quad on College Street and several new residence halls, as well as the demolition of the Pine Street Apartments, Dudley Coe and various houses on College Street.
It is vital that students have a say in how new architecture shapes the campus. The College should encourage all students, faculty and staff to be a part of the dialogue. It is, after all, our campus that would be reshaped and redesigned. In order for this to occur, however, the College must be forthcoming with regard to its plans. Involving voices from outside the administration, such as student representatives and faculty from the Visual Arts department, would add valuable insight and direction to future projects.
Space has a profound impact on our time here, and the changing landscape of the College will define the experience of generations of students. There are buildings on this campus that impress and inspire, and there are those we wish had been designed differently. Let us ensure that the new buildings slated for completion in 2025 are the kinds we would want to be in.
Editors' Note: A previous version of this editorial said that several buildings on campus, including the Buck Center and Watson Arena, were constructed with "little aesthetic input" from students. A number of students were in fact consulted during the process. The Orient regrets the error.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Nick Daniels, Sam Frizell, Linda Kinstler, Zoë Lescaze and Elizabeth Maybank.