In an email to the Bowdoin community on January 30, President Clayton Rose wrote that President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees “has the potential to harm students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities across the country—including here at Bowdoin—and also to put their family members at risk.”

The immigration order immediately affected Bowdoin students, faculty and staff from the seven implicated countries, and on Monday Rose wrote that the College is working to provide these community members access to legal counsel.   

In an email to the Orient yesterday, Rose said that, with regard to Trump’s policies, “any actions or statements on my part will be motivated, in the first instance, by those things that challenge our educational mission and/or our [sic] threaten members of our community.” 

Rose’s statements and the actions the College is taking to support its students are valuable. But Rose and the College have a responsibility to proactively speak out against Trump’s actions, separate from their impact on Bowdoin as an institution. In short: Bowdoin needs to do more.

The administration has a significant degree of power that, if leveraged effectively, can be used for proactive resistance. 

As students, our role in this is most important. If we want our college to speak on our behalf, we need to hold it accountable and make explicit demands.

Public opposition is a step in the right direction, but we can call on Rose and the administration to put pressure on our Maine and federal representatives. We can demand that the school schedule more programming addressing contemporary political and social issues. We can demand that professors find ways, in and out of the classroom, to convey knowledge and skills to do good in the Trump era. 

In May of 1970, students at Bowdoin voted to strike in opposition to America’s military action in Southeast Asia. President Roger Howell Jr.’s actions that spring are notable because they matched the school’s public policy to student political demands about an issue unconnected to the interests of the College.

But the student demands came first. Members of the Bowdoin community have already taken action, such as participating in women’s marches and last week’s protests at airports. But if we are serious about pressing for change, the intensity and frequency of our actions and demands need to increase. As the Orient editorialized on May 6, 1970, “What we ourselves have often failed to grasp is that we are the college, if we want to be.”  

If we’re unified in our demands and speak as as a student body, Rose would be wise to follow the example Howell set in 1970 and align the College’s actions with the voices of its students.

A Bowdoin alumnus signed E.B. wrote in the May 1970 edition of the Bowdoin Alumnus, “What was the alternative to the suspension? To have conducted business as usual? To have told seniors, many of whom are only weeks away from going to war, that they should stick to their books because their President knows best?” Neutrality is not an option, and lack of action in this case is equivalent to neutrality.