Last semester, it was impossible not to hear about the pain that ethnic stereotyping causes people of color on our campus. So why did it happen again? 

On Wednesday night at the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) public comment time, students from across campus described the emotional harm that ethnic stereotyping at a tequila-themed party caused them. Some described how they felt a joke was had at the expense of their culture’s complexity and richness. Others said that they feel excluded from the campus community as students of color, and that events like this and their aftermaths reinforce that sense of ostracization. A first year said that he regrets coming to Bowdoin in the first place. The pain in the room was palpable.

It is alarming that we have had three prominent incidents of this kind in just over a year. Each time, a similar dialogue has been sparked in response. It’s frustrating that the same conversations keep happening with many of the same participants, a disproportionate amount of whom are students of color. It speaks volumes that most of those in attendance at the tequila party weren’t at Wednesday’s BSG meeting to hear the responses of those affected by their event. This is one of the reasons why we are stuck in this cycle of offense and re-offense. 

There are some rules you can break that will only harm yourself—from something as common as drinking hard alcohol to more serious offenses like plagiarism. There are some standards of conduct at Bowdoin that you may not agree with. You might think that the Social Code’s phrase “conduct unbecoming of a Bowdoin student” is too vague to mean anything.

However, the fallout from the tequila party isn’t about breaking rules or your relationship with the administration. It’s about basic empathy. It’s not about finding a loophole in the College’s codes of conduct, and it’s not about a debate over political correctness. It’s about respecting your peers as human beings and acknowledging what makes them feel unwelcome in our community.

If you’re confused about why people are mad, take the time to figure it out. Listen to what your peers are saying, learn from past mistakes, recognize that this behavior has a historic and political context and stop throwing these parties. This behavior is demeaning to your peers and it must end. 

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Julian Andrews, John Branch, Jono Gruber, Matthew Gutschenritter, Emma Peters, Meg Robbins, Nicole Wetsman and Emily Weyrauch.