Signs containing the phrase “#AStatementIsNotEnough” were posted throughout campus last Thursday night, signifying some students’ dissatisfaction with the administration’s response to the sailing team’s “gangster” party. In a protest this Wednesday, students wore duct tape over their mouths—representing the silencing of minority voices—to further express disapproval with how the College handles racial issues on campus. Many felt that the reaction emails sent by administrators were lacking in concrete solutions, and placed the burden on students to foster future discussions. 

In his campus wide email, President Clayton Rose recounted meeting with student leaders from various multicultural groups over the weekend, writing, “they offered thoughtful ideas that we will be discussing with them soon.” While this statement is vague, and more direct attention to racial issues could have been paid even before the “gangster” party, it’s unclear what concrete action we should expect from the College so soon after the party happened.

Even so, the tension between the College’s desire to appear responsive to student concerns and its inability to take immediate action on complicated problems has fallen hardest on the students affected by these issues in the first place. They have been asked to devote long hours on top of their usual course load and activities to facilitating dialogue. There is no institutional course of action for responding to incidents like the “gangster” party, but the administration cannot place the responsibility of reacting to racial issues entirely on students of color. 

There is plenty of work the administration simply cannot do. What happens off campus—say, when a car of strangers yells racial slurs at a student walking on Maine Street—is out of the administration’s control. What the administration can do, however, is to ensure that there are support systems in place when issues like this arise. 

In the Orient’s article on faculty diversity this week, several people spoke about the importance of faculty mentors who, coming from similar backgrounds as students of color, can empathize with the unique issues they face and provide guidance as these students navigate their time at Bowdoin. The last two weeks have brought the importance of this idea into sharp focus. Bowdoin as an institution may have little power to control isolated bias incidents, but the decisions it makes about who works here, the roles that they play and the training they receive, shape the environment in which we preempt and respond to these incidents. What’s more, the benefits of a more diverse faculty extend far beyond responding to incidents of racial bias. A more diverse faculty could foster a culture that’s more capable of discussing race to begin with, preventing events like the “gangster” party from happening in the first place. 

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.