Last year, in the wake of the “tequila” party, a group of students interrupted one of the monthly faculty meetings in order to urge faculty to participate in conversations about race on campus. These students wanted their professors to be involved in issues that exist outside of their classrooms—and they were not the only ones expressing the desire to engage. 

Assuming a student jumps through all the necessary hoops in order to speak at a faculty meeting—which most students do not even know is an option—an opportunity for faculty to respond and engage with that student does not currently exist. Since that meeting last year, a group of faculty has been discussing whether to allow unannounced students to speak at faculty meetings. In addition, at this week’s meeting, a number of professors voiced a desire to engage with what students had expressed in the past. Creating opportunities for this to happen is a valuable pursuit for students and faculty alike.

When students or faculty do have concerns, there should be a forum where students and faculty can talk to one another on a larger scale. Having a monthly meeting—separate from the faculty meeting—where students and faculty are invited to converse and express any concerns would be a step in the right direction. Meetings like this would help bridge the gap that currently exists between students and faculty when it comes to non-academic issues.  

In order to make these meetings as effective as possible, it is important for faculty and students to cultivate personal, non-academic relationships. For both parties to feel comfortable expressing themselves in forums like this, there needs to be a degree of familiarity and openness, which is built through engaging one-on-one outside of class. While students and faculty can individually work with one another to strengthen such relationships, the College should be more involved in encouraging these interactions. 

For example, having a planned dinner that students can directly invite their professors to takes the pressure off of students to bridge the gap on their own. Formalized events like this bring large groups of students and faculty together in a comfortable setting and facilitate the type of bonding that would make participating together in larger meetings more accessible. Events like “Pints with Professors”—a Senior Week event where students can invite their professors to get drinks—is an example of this, but it comes too late in our Bowdoin careers for us to take full advantage of the opportunity. 

Outside of the classroom, connecting with faculty helps Bowdoin feel more like a place students can call home. Constantly surrounded by other people our own age, it can be refreshing to have close relationships with a different age demographic as well as helpful to have advice from people other than our peers. 

Schools like Bowdoin attract faculty that want to cultivate strong relationships with their students. Instituting monthly meetings for students and faculty would accomplish this. These meetings will be the most effective if students and faculty can build strong enough one-on-one relationships so that when they are in larger groups they feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Marina Affo, Julian Andrews, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert.