Just two weeks after the sailing team’s “Gangsta Rap” themed party sparked controversy regarding cultural appropriation on campus, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) kicked off “No Hate November”, a month dedicated to shedding light on bias incidents and issues of diversity. 

This will be the second time that BSG has dedicated the full month of November to focusing on issues of race and identity.

“We’re really hoping for it to be more proactive than reactive but now it looks reactive....especially considering how low-profile [No Hate November] was last year,” said Michelle Kruk ’16, vice president of BSG.

Kruk, who has worked on developing the No Hate November structure since fall 2013—when the bias incidents that galvanized BSG to create the month occurred—lamented the fact that this November’s programming may look reactive to recent campus incidents, but hoped that the charged conversations happening on campus would spur people to participate in this month’s events.

Vice President for Student Affairs Luke von Maur ’16 noted that one of the biggest shifts in this year’s event planning has been a stronger effort to reach out to different groups on campus, as both he and Kruk noted that minority students may have felt disaffected by a lack of outreach last year.

“Especially after what happened two weeks ago, we’re trying to make this issue more well known,” said von Maur. “I think after what happened at ‘Cracksgiving’ [last year], I think a lot of students felt removed from the event.”

Kruk explained that she hopes the scheduled events for November will cater not only to students who regularly engage with racial conversations, but also those who do not usually engage with issues of race or have been dissatisfied with race relations on campus.

“I think there are a lot of things that happen between interactions between students, faculty and staff that are incredibly problematic,” said Kruk. 

Kruk explained that over the past week she has learned of numerous incidents of what she believes would have been considered bias incidents if they had been reported, and that there are “students of color who walk around this campus harboring very deeply hurtful racist instances that are shaping their Bowdoin experience.”

In addition to bringing back the photo installation in the David Saul Smith Union—something BSG organized in 2013 in light of bias incidents—Kruk and von Maur are hoping to assemble a collection of anonymous stories submitted by students who believe they were the victims of bias incidents or micro-aggressions. 

In an attempt to better engage with the community on matters of race and identity, members of the BSG executive committee released an open letter at this week’s meeting, announcing some of their plans for the upcoming year. The letter was published in the Orient last week. BSG President Danny Mejia-Cruz ’16 said, “I think one of the problems BSG has is generally people don’t know about us and what we do, while the fact is, we have immense impact, and can have more impact.” 

Harry Rube contributed to this report.