As the hand at the helm of the College, the administration is responsible for making tough calls, protecting institutional interests and traditions, and providing the student body with the resources and guidance it takes to maintain Bowdoin's reputation as a beacon of higher education.

These duties are anything but trivial. As wide-eyed fledglings, hungry for a socially and intellectually rich four years, we, the students, depend on the College administrators to vomit a nourishing Bowdoin experience down our throats, having already chewed and digested it themselves; so to speak.

And still, we remain largely ignorant of the specific concerns that they tackle in pursuit of this mission. Well, if you skipped over today's news section, allow me to enlighten you.

For the past year, Bowdoin and Southern New Hampshire University have shared an exit sign on I-295. Recently, the College requested that the Maine Department of Transportation create separate signs for the two schools. The College claims that the request was made due to "visibility" concerns.

Well, visibility, sure. I'll buy it. I mean, the decrease in tourist volume on campus has really caused the local economy to take a dive. But I'm glad the signs are separate for a different reason?and I speculate that the College hierarchy isn't too downtrodden about it either: image.

One needs only to consider closely the deeply damaging consequences of sharing a highway sign with a lesser school to realize how monumental a victory this change is for the College. I mean, how must have prospective families reacted when they saw that Bowdoin shared an exit sign with SNHU?

Mother: I think we're close, here's a sign?"Exit 28, Bowdoin College and...Southern New Hampshire University?"

Father: The exit's for both colleges?

Mother: I suppose so...but why wouldn't Bowdoin have its own sign? Can they not afford it? I'm confused, honey. I thought we were sending Charles to an elite college.

Father: Well, this won't do at all. Charles?

Charles: (puts down graduated cylinders, looks up from textbooks) Hang on, Dad. I'm about to simultaneously cure cancer and solve the JFK assassination.

Father: Well, you won't be making any historical breakthroughs at Bowdoin College! I'm turning this car around. We'll try Middlebury?it has a whole town named after it.

But the loss of potential genius students only represents the tip of the iceberg. What if people misconstrued Bowdoin and SNHU's shared exit sign as implying that the two colleges were otherwise affiliated? What if they thought the sign meant "Bowdoin College at Southern New Hampshire University?" Suddenly, Bowdoin isn't even its own college anymore, just a crappy subdivision of some no-name school's satellite campus. And our athletic program isn't even all that good.

The damage to Bowdoin's image is easy to observe. What is often overlooked is the damage sharing an exit sign with SNHU has wrought on the self-esteem of the student body. I mean, how many times has this happened when you're driving in Maine with your high school friends?

You: Hey guys, check it out?there's the sign for my school.

Friend #1: You go to Southern New Hampshire University?

You: No, the other...

Friend #1: (to others) Hey guys, [your name] goes to Southern New Hampshire University!

You: I do not!

(Friends laugh.)

Friend #2: And he's ugly!

You: I am not!

(Friends laugh, high-five each other.)

The immense intellectual burden borne by the average Bowdoin undergraduate makes him more emotionally vulnerable than most. The College, in its wisdom, understands this. The sort of derision that students were forced to endure during the year that Bowdoin and SNHU shared an exit sign (known on campus as the "age of wrath and darkness") not only distracted them from their pursuit of knowledge, but penetrated their thin emotional membranes such that many were unable to productively attend to their intellectual gifts.

But those days are over now. The removal of the odious sign closes what is perhaps the blackest chapter in Bowdoin's history. We must do our best to put in the past and move forward with resolve.

Because the administrators have demonstrated such able judgment in this matter already, I will not presume to tell them how they ought to proceed henceforth. I would like, however, to throw a few suggestions out there.

1) Erect a 30-foot solid brick wall around campus, complete with lookout towers and sniper nests. I also recommend a moat.

2) Require each visitor to campus to approach the campus entrance slowly, holding both a photograph I.D. and a certified document bearing either the results of an I.Q. evaluation or SAT test high above his head. If he is deemed intellectually worthy, he will be allowed to enter. If not, he will be shot and his body donated to the Biology Department for curricular use.

3) To reinforce general feelings of superiority, dress students in expensive suits and organize a field trip to Southern New Hampshire University. Then, encourage them to walk around campus yelling "YOU'RE FIRED!" at any SNHU students they encounter.

4) Break into Special Collections and insert "Southern New Hampshire University sucks" at various places in Hawthorne's manuscripts. Then hold a press conference announcing these "new discoveries."

5) Build the new sign out of gold.

These measures will work to redouble the College's reputation and aid in the recovery of its student body's shattered self-esteem. We can only hope that it's not too late.