To kick off “No Hate November,” Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) unveiled a photo reception in David Saul Smith Union on Monday to bring attention to the fact that bias incidents still occur on Bowdoin’s campus and to show support for students who have been affected by such incidents. The installation consists of black and white portraits of students holding signs bearing messages such as “We Stand Together” and “We Stand With You.”

“No Hate November” is a month-long event established in the fall of 2013 in response to  a series of bias incidents on and off campus.  According to an email sent by the BSG to club leaders, “‘No Hate November’ is a month dedicated to remembering past bias incidents at Bowdoin and promoting an inclusive, respectful campus.” This year, “No Hate November” also provides a natural extension of the conversations about race and inclusion occurring on campus in the past weeks.

Vice President for Student Affairs Luke von Maur ’16 was part of the team that planned “No Hate November” programming, including this art initiative. He said the night was successful in that it attracted many students and raised campus awareness of “No Hate November” and its goals. 

“Even the fact that we had people in Thorne and Moulton at dinner taking these pictures brought attention to the event,” von Maur said. “Like, ‘What is that for?’ ‘Why are there kids taking pictures?’”

Unlike in 2013, the last year an art initiative was part of “No Hate November,” this year, club leaders were asked to attend the exhibit’s opening reception. Von Maur and the rest of the organizers felt that this would bring more awareness to the event. 

“At attention to diversity or awareness of diversity events, there’s usually a small percentage of the student body there, and it’s the same people every time,” von Maur said. 

This year, the goal was to reach out to more students and bring the whole campus in on the conversation. Von Maur hopes that the inclusion of club leaders in the event will lead to the discussion of the reception and the other events of “No Hate November” among clubs.

“My biggest hope in the future is that [“No Hate November”] involves more students, and that more students know what’s happening and more dialogue can occur,” he said.

Ashley Bomboka ’16, president of the African-American Society (AfAm), praised the event as being a strong way to kick off “No Hate November.”

“What I appreciate is that people enter and exit on their own time and you’re not expected to feel—your emotions can range from either extreme joy or sadness or not expressing anything at all,” she said. “I think the fact that we’re all here means that we’re all being supportive, and I think that’s what makes this event a good event. I think it’s a calm way to enter the conversation—and I’m not saying that other forms of activism aren’t good—but I think this is a good entrance into No Hate November.”

Other club leaders drew attention to the various benefits of the art installation. Talia Cowen ’16 of the Bowdoin Film Society praised its very prominent public location and described it as a constant reminder to students that there is still work to be done to create a truly inclusive campus. Kiefer Solarte ’16, one of the leaders of the Bowdoin Student Athlete Advisory Committee, noted that the exhibit shows a very diverse group of students all united for one cause.

“I think it’s a powerful means of visual communication about something that’s important on our campus and I think it’s been done in a very tasteful way,” said Maddie Livingston ’16, president of Masque & Gown.

Many of the attendees feel the exhibit is another link in the chain of positive discourse about bias issues. 

“It puts a face to some people on campus that you can talk to about these issues, and it makes it a lot more accessible and a lot easier to start those conversations that are a little bit harder to have,” said Solarte.

Livingston, on the other hand, is not so sure. 

“I think it’s an effective way of portraying a certain message on campus although I don’t really know if it’s going to start a dialogue,” she said. “I feel that the extremes of the situation make it difficult to foster an effective dialogue.”

Regardless of whether it will get people talking, students feel the installation achieves one of von Maur’s goals: a sense of support for students who have been hurt by bias incidents. 

“I think it’s great as a student of the College to see all these different faces on the wall. These are my peers, and they’re here with me,” said Sergio Gomez ’16.