This semester begins on the heels of a busy and complex year for social justice and activism at Bowdoin. In early December 2014, hundreds of students rallied on the Museum steps in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Bowdoin Climate Action continued its push for the College to divest from fossil fuel companies, bringing dozens of students to a sit-in at the president’s office in April. At the end of the spring semester, Students for Justice in Palestine initiated a referendum and heated debate on a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Bowdoin, a campus not known for a culture of political activism, felt an undercurrent of change.

At the same time, a more tangible change was also taking place. For the better part of a year, Bowdoin conducted an extensive search for a leader to replace Barry Mills, who had spent 14 years as President of the College. The Board of Trustees selected Clayton Rose, a man who is enthusiastic about engaging with today’s pressing social justice issues. Bowdoin, a place where students have recently complained of a stifled dialogue with administrators, was witness to a visible change.

Now, at the start of a new academic year, these two movements converge. Rarely in the memories of those on our campus has there been more of a genuine desire for dialogue on both ends. The slate is about as clean as it’s ever going to get.

Rose devoted a significant portion of his convocation speech to the topic of racial injustice, and he has taken strides to understand the perspectives of minority students at Bowdoin. Last Friday, through Director of the Student Center for Multicultural Life Benjamin Harris, Rose met with student leaders from the Multicultural Coalition, which is made up of organizations such as the Asian Students Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and The Undiscussed.

It is up to us as students to continue to take Rose up on his offer to engage. Our recent wave of activism seems to have convinced President Rose of the student body’s investment in social justice, but it remains to be seen how responsive the administration will be to concrete proposals for change. And while student and faculty activists have organized events such as the October 1 teach-in, it’s unclear exactly how effective the event will prove to be.

We have students desperate to talk and a president eager to listen. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity. All forms of campus dialogue and subsequent activism—from organized discussion to uncompromising protest—are important, and social change rarely happens through any one channel. We shouldn’t count anything out. Maybe the teach-in will effect the most change this semester. Maybe smaller recurring meetings with President Rose will. Most likely, it will be a combination of both.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of John Branch, Sam Chase, Matthew Gutschenritter, Emma Peters and Nicole Wetsman.