The College administration has wasted no time in its latest effort to provoke discussion about diversity at Bowdoin. The first set of questions, concerning various dimensions of "belonging," is a meaty one and calls for students to acknowledge their roles in making the campus more inclusive.
Not everyone belongs at Bowdoin. We have admissions standards and a rigorous evaluative process in which those most able to contribute intellectually and socially to campus life are admitted. Those who are admitted "belong" because they meet these standards.
Like other colleges, Bowdoin recognizes that if it is going to seek and admit a diverse class, it must create support structures for a diverse student body. To this end, there is an extensive network of organizations, resource centers, and advisers to try to ensure that, once here, every student feels like he or she belongs.
This network, however, can only go so far in supporting students. The issue here is not whether or not particular students "belong," but whether or not they feel comfortable at Bowdoin. As we have previously argued in this space, it is unreasonable and counterproductive to expect everyone to feel comfortable all the time. The College has and will continue to do its part in facilitating discussion, but no number of forums, banners in the Union, or even editorials can force students to reach out to one another. Instead, it is ultimately the responsibility of students themselves to work towards a genuinely inclusive and accepting community.