The sexual assault that occurred on Tuesday has left campus in a state of shock. While similar incidents may be a more common reality outside of Bowdoin, it’s greatly distressing to find that such a horrifying act of random violence could happen here. Our thoughts are with the victim, and with all the members of the Bowdoin community deeply affected by this attack.

As college students, a number of resources for dealing with sexual assault are available to us. This year’s Clery Report recorded 20 sex offenses in the 2014 calendar year, and others almost surely went unreported. We’re trained—formally and otherwise—to think about sexual assault in specific ways that aim to confront this unique problem of sexual assault on college campuses. We’re told that the victims of sexual assault usually know their attacker, that alcohol is involved in a large percentage of assaults on campus, and that a culture of affirmative consent is key to stopping sexual assault before it happens. We’re told that the notion of a stranger entering your room is a narrow and rare conception of what sexual assault is for college students. All of this education is accurate and necessary, but it also makes it all the more jarring when an incident like this happens. 

While each student may have felt a different level of safety at Bowdoin before this event, many of us, particularly women, feel significantly less safe this week. Behaviors we take for granted—jogging without a cell phone, wandering home from a party alone, leaving a door propped open for a roommate—will be given up by many students after what happened on Tuesday. These everyday activities, rarely second-guessed, were reflections of a collective belief that Brunswick and Bowdoin are generally safe. Every time a student makes a conscious effort to avoid such a behavior will be an implicit statement that campus is perhaps not as safe as we once thought. While these privileges of safety are small individually, losing them all at once profoundly affects how we perceive our environment.

There’s no shortcut to regaining the sense of security that many of us had until this week. Many of us are scared, and unfortunately, there’s no way that we can be entirely comforted after an incident like this. There are things that help, however. Student affairs staff have been on hand at 24 College Street so students can convene there, providing many students a way to cope with the emotional toll that an incident like this takes. In less formal settings, students have found comfort through simply sharing their feelings and offering support to friends. This week, we lost some of the small privileges of our experience at Bowdoin and in Brunswick. Coming together as a community will continue to help us slowly regain some sense of security.

 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.