This academic year has brought a series of challenges, conflicts, and changes to the Bowdoin College campus. The following is the Orient's compilation of the most significant stories that have affected the Bowdoin community over the last nine months.
As a new wave of first years arrived on campus at the start of the College's 203rd academic year, they were greeted by upperclassmen up in arms about two major physical changes to affect the College?the proposed removal of the front steps of the Walker Art Building and the scheduled sale of Breckinridge Estate. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art, whose steps have traditionally been used for commencement ceremonies, was placed on the "Maine's Most Endangered Properties List" in response to public backlash over the Board of Trustees' approved renovation. While the College recognized student and community dissent and chose to consider the possibility of alternative plans for the museum, Bowdoin's Breckinridge Estate was not so fortunate. The 23-acre, 25-room manor house, a haven for student organizations for three decades, was sold despite severe controversy on campus. The Orient denounced the College's decision in an editorial which declared that "by risking the estate's integrity, the College sacrificed a piece of its own."
Students also began to feel the excitement of the fast-approaching presidential election. Political tension on campus mounted when Bree Dallinga '06 and Ashley Cusick '05 were ejected from a Bush campaign rally in Bangor by Maine College Republicans Chairman Dan Schuberth '06. While Schuberth told the Brunswick Times Record that he speculated that Dallinga and Cusick arrived at the rally with the intention of inciting a pre-determined conflict in conjunction with the Orient in hopes of securing a front-page article, the Orient dismissed the allegations. "Dan Schuberth's claims are not based on fact," Orient co-Editor-in-Chief Brian Dunn '05 said.
In October, partisan conflict heightened when Maine Governor John Baldacci spoke at the Maine College Democrats of America College Convention while the College Republicans protested outside by chanting phrases, banging on the windows of the convention venue, and waving a life-size cardboard cut out of Bush. When Baldacci left the convention, a crowd College Republicans chased his vehicle off campus.
Outside the political sphere, Bowdoin earned its 15 minutes of fame when an MTV production crew visited campus to film part of a new program entitled "Campus Guide to Safer Sex." After the crew met with the women's varsity soccer team, residents of the Pine Street Apartments and Quinby House, and a variety of student volunteers to discuss their perceptions of sex at Bowdoin, MTV News Host Gideon Yago gave an exclusive interview with the Orient, saying, "It's great that MTV gives so much support to programs like this and I get to be a part of it. I really am the luckiest kid in America."
Midway through the month, Polar Bear Nation celebrated the Bowdoin football team's first win since October 12, 2002. Shortly after, Red Sox Nation celebrated its Boston underdog winning its first World Series title since 1918. As soon as Keith Foulke made the final out of game four, students sprinted to Brunswick Apartments, where a bonfire was erected in a collective state of elation. The Orient soon after endorsed its presidential candidate of choice?Terry Francona.
As the campus was sick with Red Sox fever, Dudley Coe reported that Bowdoin would not be receiving ample, if any, doses of the flu vaccine this year due to a national shortage. Illegal drugs, however, were not in short supply around campus, which was discovered when two anonymous students reported symptoms of date-rape drug ingestion.
The Bowdoin community pulled together for support when it learned of the sudden death of David D'Angelo, 45. D'Angelo, the former Director of Facilities Management, died on impact after his motorcycle swerved into oncoming traffic on Route 128 and collided with a pick-up truck. The Bowdoin Chapel was filled to capacity for the memorial service, at which President Emeritus Edwards remarked, "His standards of decency, kindness, and quality will stand here as long as his colleagues choose to honor them."
As November rolled around, students sent in absentee ballots or ventured to local poling sites to make their mark on the next four years. Students had feared obstacles at the polls regarding registration problems, confused voting districts, and voter intimidation; however, they voted nonetheless, and in swarms. "I have not in my career seen this level of interest," Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley said.
Top college officials also unveiled Bowdoin's latest capital campaign, confidently naming a $250 million goal to be reached by 2010. While the money raised is intended to enhance faculty resources, fund a new hockey rink, and construct a concert hall in the Curtis Pool Building, students began to wonder if some of the money should go towards the correct labeling of valves in the Coles Tower basement when on November 11, students on the sixth floor awoke to find thick, black water seeping under their doors and clouds of steam filling the air. As the damaged dorms were gutted and cleaned, affected students were put up in a hotel, where they sat wondering if any other problems Facilities claimed to have fixed were still a liability.
Entertainment on campus during the month abounded, as students welcomed renowned classic group Robert Randolph and the Family Band and the Theater Department's controversial production of Angels in America. Meanwhile, Bowdoin made national news again, this time for Fox Searchlight's release of Kinsey, an Oscar-nominated motion picture about the life of Alfred C. Kinsey, Bowdoin class of 1916.
Although students enjoyed watching Kinsey on the silver screen, the campus experienced mass apprehension with the arrival of its own sexual deviant, Brunswick resident Erik Tillotson. The subject of two campus security alerts, Tillotson was arrested near Farley Field House after becoming the focus of a police investigation for allegedly slipping an "unknown debilitating substance" into the drink of a female student. Tillotson returned to Brunswick in January, at which time Security heightened the alert.
As the first semester came to a close, the Orient investigated the Bowdoin Student Government's slow semester, highlighting the organization's difficulty communicating with the student body. The Orient found that only six of the original 25 proposals made by winning officer candidates during last April's campaigns had been realized. Student body president Hal Douglas '05 himself called the fall a "difficult semester" for BSG and Vice President of Student Government Affairs DeRay McKesson '07 agreed, saying "We're nowhere near where we need to be."
After six weeks of vacation, students returned to Brunswick and immediately began a campus-wide effort to raise funds for the tsunami relief effort. The tsunami, which left hundreds of thousands dead or displaced across South and Southeast Asia on the morning of December 26, remarkably spared Bowdoin students, staff, and alumni who were in Sri Lanka at the time.
The controversy surrounding a 1999 Judicial Board decision reached its end when the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear the case of George Goodman '00, who was indefinitely dismissed from Bowdoin. Dean Bradley accepted the J-Board's decision with regard to Goodman breaking a fellow student's nose after a snow-ball incident. The Supreme Court's denial of the certiorari petition rendered Goodman's case essentially dead.
February proved to be a month bustling with news on the Bowdoin campus. During Maine's coldest month, the Orient proved correct in its speculation that Bush's budget proposal for the 2006 fiscal year would eliminate Upward Bound, a federally-funded program that helps low-income students be the first in their families to continue education after high school. Bowdoin has housed a chapter of Upward Bound since the 1960s.
As the Bush administration cut funding, a heavy Brunswick snowfall cut power and left Bowdoin in the dark on February 11 until the early hours of the morning. The outage drew students into their hallways to do homework by floodlight and incited spur-of-the-moment snow-ball battles. Meanwhile, students continued to dance in the dark to the music of steel drum band JahPan, which provided entertainment at the celebration marking the tenth anniversary of the opening of Smith Union. The Orient commended the student body for remaining relatively calm amidst the storm and putting down its laptops in exchange for "an evening of surprises and good, old-fashioned fun."
It also came to the College's attention that foreign applications have plummeted recently, with 18 percent fewer foreign students applying to Bowdoin in the past two years alone. Perhaps they are applying to Colby instead, where 21-year old students are able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner on most Friday nights. The Orient supported our rival's program in an editorial entitled, "Toasting a wise ass," in which it commended Colby's aim to teach students how to drink responsibly.
After September's controversy involving the Walker Art Building, the College was pleased to see a positive reaction to the newest alteration to the museum. The transformation of the Boyd Gallery into a colorful, interactive mural drew college and pre-school students alike to paint indiscernible curlicues on its walls under the direction of Professor Mark Wethli.
Despite the bitter cold, the campus heated up with the arrival of infamous black conservative Vernon Robinson, who spoke as a guest of the Bowdoin Republicans. From the Republicans' advertisement in the digest, which claimed, as Robinson himself declared on his website, "The only thing he has in common with Jesse Jackson is a good tan," to Robinson's comments at the event that stated liberals are "never willing to defend their country," Robinson incited fiery discourse throughout the remainder of Black History Month. An Orient column by Ben Peisch berating the excessive liberal backlash to Robinson's speech was linked on numerous websites, including Fox News.
Although no one on campus could seem to agree about the lasting significance of Robinson's speech, the split of Ian McKee '98 and his fiancee of almost a year from The Bachelorette got students wondering if it is better to marry another polar bear, after all.
The Orient's biggest story in March was an unfortunate one and occurred when physical violence broke out on campus at Ladd House and at Super Snack. The unexpected outbreaks left a visiting student from the University of Maine at Orono unconscious and landed several Bowdoin students in local area hospitals. The violence was especially unnerving since Bowdoin prides itself in its feeling of security. "I'm from the ghetto, man," a student who requested to remain anonymous said. "I came here to get away from that kind of violent stuff."
Luckily, the Bowdoin Women's Basketball Team rekindled students' pride in the College when it won its fifth straight NESCAC championship against Bates. The team ultimately fell to Scranton with a 49-43 loss in the Elite Eight. Despite the loss, Captains Alison Smith '05 and Erika Nickerson '05 finished their Bowdoin careers 108-9 overall, boasting four NESCAC championships and no home court losses.
As the snow melted and students began to venture out of their rooms, they were hit with the upsetting news of President Barry Mills's prostate cancer diagnosis. Despite inevitable setbacks that the diagnosis brings, Mills assured the College that he plans to continue his duties with the same rigor as always.
Admissions also sent out acceptance letters to prospective members of the class of 2009 after receiving the largest number of applications in Bowdoin history?5,026. As the College prepared to welcome a new wave of first years, it learned that it would be saying goodbye to three very special people on campus at the end of the year?Burgie Howard, the Director of Smith Union and Student Activities and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Betty Trout-Kelly, Executive Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, and Jim Kim, Assistant Dean of First Year Students. The Orient's April 29 editorial expressed the sentiment of the student body: "The College needs to be looking for three people with big feet, because it has three pairs of big shoes to fill."
Many students found themselves affected by the loss of an even more significant man in April?Pope John Paul II. The College community pulled together to reflect on the death of the awe-inspiring man and speculate what implications the naming of Joseph Alois Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI would bring.
Just as the liberal backlash that Robinson brought in February began to quell, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer arrived on campus to stir things up once again. Bremer, who spoke in front of an 850-person audience in Morrell Gymnasium after spending more than 13 months as the most powerful administrator in occupied Iraq, incited protests by students and adults alike. After Bremer spoke, he entertained 12 questions from the audience and gave students a chance to put a leading government figure on the spot.
Other events on campus proved less controversial. The Campus Activities Board played host to Reel Big Fish on April 9 after deciding to shift funds away from BearAIDS in order to attract a big name band. Students also found entertainment at the Bowdoin Film Festival, which returned after 11 years in a triumphant homecoming.
Students survived Ivies with few mishaps, save a overzealous partier caught in a tree at Harpswell, and entered their last month of school with enthusiasm.
Although those whose plans to live in a campus co-op next year were disappointed to see their design for communal living shot down by the Administration, most students were pleased with the results of the housing lottery, with only about a dozen students remaining on a housing waiting list which contained 78 names at this time last year. Ideally, the housing crunch will be solved just in time for upperclassmen to welcome the newest wave of first years in a few short months.