Yesterday, the campus-wide teach-in, “Intersections: Making Connections, Moving Forward,” finally took place after ten months of planning. What was originally conceived as an event dedicated to climate change ultimately became an opportunity for members of the community to discuss the intersections between a range of pressing issues—namely climate and race. As a campus that often bemoans its tendency to “talk about talking,” the College finally engaged. 

The teach-in’s goals were abstract. As organizer Mary Hunter told the Orient this week, “My bar is that people learn something that they couldn’t have learned without the day and that they converse in a way that they would not converse without the day.” As best as we can tell, yesterday met that goal. Events seemed well-attended, and participants engaged in conversations that are often had behind closed doors, if at all. Students and professors alike took advantage of the platform to share their knowledge and unique perspectives.

However, the event’s reach did not truly extend to the whole campus. Because events were optional and classes were not cancelled, many students did not participate, including some who may have wished to. While successful on many levels, this teach-in was not the campus-wide reckoning that some hoped for. 

The teach-in was special because it concentrated the energy and focus of many students, faculty and staff. But every week, events are held on campus that address the same topics as the teach-in. For example, this past Monday, Clenora Hudson-Weems, a prominent academic from the University of Missouri, discussed the modern socio-economic, political and cultural experiences of women of African descent. This event did not occur as part of the teach-in, but it dealt with similar themes of race and social justice. A teach-in is a visible way to draw attention to certain issues, but Bowdoin should not forget the importance of engaging with them regularly, especially given the opportunities that only a college campus can provide.

Many members of the Bowdoin community attended the teach-in as a statement in and of itself. By attending, they showed not only the importance they place on the issues at hand, but affirmed the value of dialogue and activism in general. This is an affirmation that should exist beyond the teach-in; we should constantly look for ways to engage with issues that challenge us, not only when the opportunity falls in our lap in the form of a day-long event. This could mean attending more organized events and talks, getting involved in student activism, or being open to having more uncomfortable conversations. Everyone will take away something different from individual experiences at the teach-in, but if there’s one thing community members can all share, it should be a desire to continue filling the spaces where opportunities for engagement and thoughtful discussion are presented to us so readily.  

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.