The number of students living off campus has increased over the past few years and is currently at its highest in recent memory. On one hand, students living off campus engage with the town in new ways both personally and economically. On the other hand, incidents of disorderly conduct and noise late at night place stress on a historically civil relationship. 

On Wednesday, Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols sent an email to the student body regarding complaints received from Brunswick residents over the past two weeks. This email reflects tensions between the town and Bowdoin that exist in part as a result of Bowdoin students living off campus.

For upperclassmen living off campus, the relationship with the town of Brunswick is not the only one that changes. As students gain more independence and autonomy, a rift grows between students living off campus and those who remain in college housing.

Students who live off campus often downgrade their meal plans, and thus eat fewer meals in the dining hall with their peers, spending more time in their houses rather than in campus spaces. On the weekends, social gatherings and parties drift away from College Houses and college-owned apartments to the off-campus houses. There is no denying the divide between students who live on and off campus.

Structural changes need to be put in place to maintain our campus community. This is an opportunity for a mutual effort between the Bowdoin administration and those students living off campus to build a formalized structure with the goal of improving relations in our community.

As the market for renting to Bowdoin students grows, the number of interactions with BPD will inevitably increase. In the past, Nichols has met with off-campus houses informally and on a case-by-case basis. It is important to have these conversations in a more official capacity to clarify expectations for students, the College and the town. Creating a mandatory orientation program for students living off campus facilitated by the Office of Safety and Security, the Brunswick Police Department (BPD) and other relevant administrators would achieve this goal. 

Additionally, providing formal resources for navigating what happens when things go wrong ensures that all parties involved—Security, BPD, students and/or landlords—engage with incidents in a fair and consistent manner. 

Implementing these changes would not be difficult and would help shape a relationship of mutual respect amongst our community as a whole.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Marina Affo, Julian Andrews, Steff Chavez, Grace Handler, Nickie Mitch, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert. ​