This academic year has seen members of the Bowdoin community pull together to endure a seemingly endless series of challenges and often painful events. From the death of close friends to the loss of respected administrators to the frustrations that come with political disagreements, campus crime, and living in what some say feels like a construction zone, students and staff have shared a unique collective experience this year. Despite this reoccurring feeling of loss, this year has also witnessed its share of perseverance and celebration, attesting to the strength of the Bowdoin community during trying times. While hundreds of stories have appeared in these pages, we recognize that we have each made our own stories this year. Many of the memories that have most shaped our college careers were never featured in the Orient, but rather took place in the company of friends and mentors. Please join the Orient in remembering the most significant stories of Bowdoin's 204th academic year.
The college community found itself acting as one in an immediate campus-wide response to Hurricane Katrina, in what would be the first of many times this year that the student body united to support those affected by the tragedy. During the first week back on campus, the Community Service Resource Center teamed up with other campus groups to coordinate "12 Days of Attention: 12 Months of Impact," a compilation of fundraisers and student-led projects that raised $5,191 for relief efforts. The College also pledged $30,000 to three historically black colleges in the Gulf Coast region that had experienced the devastating effects of the storm, and Bowdoin created visiting professorships for faculty from those schools for the spring semester.
Students also returned to campus to find the Walker Art Building, Hyde and Appleton halls, and the former Curtis Pool Building already in mid-renovation. The College said that the comprehensive fee of $41,600?an increase of 4.99 percent over the previous year?was not affected by the construction projects. Also on the rise in September was the cost of energy, which was expected to increase the College's $3.7 million utility budget by over $1 million.
The end of September brought increased controversy to campus on more than one front. The College sought to update its intellectual property policy amid an allegation that an unidentified faculty member's work had been used without that faculty member's consent in a grant application. According to President Barry Mills, the issue was resolved later that month.
Equally controversial was conservative activist Michael Heath's lecture about his drive to support Question 1, a referendum question that would have repealed a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in Maine. Some 300 students attended the talk and many wore yellow to highlight their opposition to Heath's campaign and to Question 1.
Common Hour speaker Paul Rusesabagina drew twice as many students and staff as Heath to his lecture about the truth behind the film "Hotel Rwanda." In asserting that "the most abusive words that I hear are 'never again'" the college community was reminded about today's raging genocide in Darfur.
Bowdoin Student Government's (BSG) fall elections became increasingly complicated when BSG president and Class of 2007 presidential candidate DeRay Mckesson was disqualified after Derrick Wong '07 complained about Mckesson misusing his role as BSG president by campaigning for Wong's opponent. The Orient's editorial board denounced the BSG Elections Committee's decision to disqualify Mckesson as an overly creative interpretation of the election rules. In an editorial, the board declared that "the committee members must have long arms, because this interpretation is a stretch."
Students returned to campus after Fall Break to learn the devastating news that senior Katie Scott died over break in a car crash. Scott, who had been on leave from Bowdoin since September, was remembered at a campus memorial service for her "beautiful spirit."
"Katie was one of Bowdoin's best-kept secrets," Carla Cambiasso '06 told the Orient. "Katie shared experiences and insight that make me feel special for having known her."
The campus was also put on edge when a Bowdoin professor was physically hurt in a robbery near campus. Associate Professor of Physics Steven Naculich was mugged in what was apparently a random attack on Park Row, in which his wallet, watch, wedding ring, and backpack full of research were stolen.
With Darfur and the Gulf Coast still on its mind, the college community was forced to consider life outside of the bubble once again when U.S. Marine Alex Cornell du Houx '06, president of the Maine College Democrats and a vocal opponent to the war, was called to serve in Iraq. Secretary of the College Republican National Committee Dan Schuberth '06 questioned Cornell du Houx's motives for choosing to fight for a cause he does not support.
"Mr. Houx's [sic] rhetoric against the war on terror places him in agreement with the most radical fringes of the Democratic Party, and I am left to question his logic and motivation," Schuberth wrote in a statement aired on a Bowdoin Cable Network broadcast. He later retracted the statement, but not before the story was picked up by a number of well-read blogs around the country.
November saw the campus focus its energies on Question 1, and despite members of the community falling on both sides of the issue, Mills came out in opposition to the referendum question. In a letter to the Orient, he wrote, "As a Brunswick resident and citizen of Maine, I believe current efforts to repeal these protections at the polls in November are wrong and inconsistent with the fundamental principle of equality in America." The referendum ultimately failed at the polls, to the excitement of many at Bowdoin who had worked diligently on the "Maine Won't Discriminate" campaign since the beginning of the semester.
Just as Question 1 failed to gain support at the polls, an armed robber wearing a ski mask unsuccessfully attempted to rob sophomore Josh Cippel while he was doing laundry in the School Street Apartment basement. When the robber approached Cippel from behind and demanded his money, Cippel spun around and hit the intruder over the head with a bottle of Tide laundry detergent, startling the robber and causing him to flee the premise.
While Cippel was the only student who had to fend off a knife-wielding intruder, other health and safety concerns were on the minds of many students. Responding to student demand for emergency contraception options on the weekend, along with other Saturday and Sunday health worries, Dudley Coe Health Center decided in mid-November to hold limited weekend hours for a trial period. That period, which ended at the beginning of Spring Break, was deemed successful and the hours became permanent.
November also saw the Bowdoin field hockey team finished its best season yet with a record of 18-1.
Unfortunately, School Street did not become any safer for Josh Cippel. He was accosted again at his college-leased apartment when an unidentified man on the other side of the basement door suddenly released it as Cippel tried to exit the basement, causing him to fall backwards down the stairway and raising campus concerns about the safety of college housing located in the heart of Brunswick.
Over winter break, the College learned about the death of Phil Soule, a dedicated member of the coaching staff since 1967. Soule, active at Bowdoin until his passing, worked with the football, wrestling, baseball, squash, and lacrosse teams during his career, touching the lives of students for nearly four years.
Still mourning the loss of Soule, the College came to a near halt at the start of the second semester after learning that Taryn King '07 died of a sudden infection while studying abroad in a Butler University program in Ireland. Students and staff pulled together yet again, as some 300 people gathered in the Chapel for an impromptu reflection on the night they learned of her death; approximately 90 students and staff shared buses to King's funeral in Massachusetts one week later. King, the field hockey team's star player, was remembered by her friends for her humility, talent, and overwhelming friendliness.
"You see her, even from afar, and have the unexplainable urge to want to be close to her," King's close friend and teammate Burgess LePage '07 said. "She has a smile that reminds you of home, no matter where home may be."
In January, the College announced that Cristle Collins Judd from the University of Pennsylvania would replace Craig McEwen as dean for academic affairs on July 1. In an editorial, the Orient urged Judd to focus her immediate attention on helping students get into the courses they both need and want to take, diversifying and retaining faculty, and maintaining the rigorous quality of teaching that is so vital at a small college like Bowdoin.
An Orient two-part series on the College's endowment revealed that Bowdoin's endowment growth was above par?though it found that some students and faculty members worry that the College's money may not be invested in socially responsible companies, specifically in corporations that indirectly finance the genocide in Darfur.
Only a month after announcing the College's new dean for academic affairs, Mills named William M. Shain of Vanderbilt University as Interim Dean of Admissions Dick Steele's permanent replacement. Shain will begin his position on July 1. He said he will aim to increase diversity and maintain a strong relationship with the current student body.
Also in February, BSG proposed the creation of an Academic Bias Incident Group to respond to allegations of academic bias in the classroom. Dean for Student Affairs Craig McEwen attended the following week's BSG meeting and stated that the formation of such a group "would do enormous harm to the freedom of expression in classrooms on campus" by keeping faculty under constant surveillance and limiting open debate in the classroom. The group was not created and BSG stepped back from its initial recommendation.
With the campus disputing issues of free speech within its own halls, the arrival of controversial author Salman Rushdie to deliver a Common Hour lecture about the importance of free speech seemed right on target. Rushdie, who has had a bounty on his head since 1989 after the then-leader of Iran found "The Satanic Verses" highly offensive, spoke, among other things, about the controversy surrounding his fourth novel.
"What happened to 'The Satanic Verses' was, in many ways, ludicrous," he said. "The question of would you kill people because you don't like their novel?I think that's a relatively easy question to answer?mostly, 'No.'"
Campus pride abounded in March when, for the sixth consecutive year, the Bowdoin Women's Basketball Team captured the NESCAC crown. The team continued on to end its season with an impressive 27-3 record.
Others were equally pleased when the College formed an advisory committee on Darfur, joining a handful of peer institutions in considering taking a stand against investment in the Sudan.
While saddened by his departure, many members of the Bowdoin community were also proud of Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley for his decision to join the Aga Khan Development Network, an organization that dedicates its efforts to providing education on a global scale. Some recognized that this career move is a chance for Bradley to serve the common good in a bigger way.
"I think it's a wonderful use of his talents," Associate Professor of Government and Asian Studies Henry Laurence said. "It is part of who Craig is?someone who wants to make a positive difference."
As Bradley goes abroad after this academic year, so too will some 235 rising juniors spend one or two semesters pursing academics beyond Brunswick next year?not enough, however, to ease the housing crunch facing those hoping to live on campus. In response to the projected housing shortage, Director of Residential Life Kim Pacelli decided to add additional beds to a number of rooms on campus prior to the lottery, most notoriously turning all of the quads in Stowe Hall and a number in Howard Hall into "quints."
With spring's arrival and Bradley's impending departure, the College named Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster as Bradley's replacement. The search committee believed that Foster's appointment would maintain continuity during the transitional period for the new deans of admissions and academic affairs.
"You need continuity in this place and I think [Foster's appointment] will be helpful," said Bradley, who was not involved in selecting his replacement. "It's very important for students to have a sense of predictability and stability."
April also saw the successes of many Bowdoin athletic teams, the most unique of which being the College's team of robotic soccer-playing dogs that came out of the RoboCup tournament in Atlanta with a 2-2 record. The robots were programmed by students to orient themselves on the playing field, react to the ball and other players, and ultimately score goals by reading the pixel arrangement of the goal posts.
A number of investigative Orient stories in April carefully scrutinized some larger issues on campus formerly unexamined. One article investigated a Bowdoin student's allegations of anti-Christian discrimination in and out of the classroom and his placing of more than 1,000 religious pamphlets in targeted library books. The student, Ryan Helminiak '05, was fined and placed on social probation. Helminiak alleges that he was only seeking to share those Christian views he holds so valuable and highlighted two past occasions in Bowdoin courses where he felt discriminated against for his strong religious views. All faculty and staff accused by Helminiak have been cleared by the College of any wrongdoing, but Helminiak's story raised questions about the role of religion on campus.
Another investigative story looked at the College's past and future land acquisition efforts in the residential neighborhood to the immediate south of College Street. The analysis found that the College has purchased 17 local properties in the last decade, but that because of residential zoning, it cannot use the properties for anything except faculty and staff housing. Longfellow Elementary School and the Brunswick Naval Air Station are possible sites for future College use.
As the surrounding neighborhood seeks to keep Bowdoin from intruding into its turf, Bowdoin Security successfully repelled Brunswick resident Matthew Lajoie from Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, where he was suspected of stealing unattended valuables. When confronted by an undercover security officer, Lajoie fled the library and led three local police departments on a high-speed car chase. The chase ended when the subject's car flipped and burst into flames. The suspect suffered no serious injuries.
Nor did any students suffer serious injuries during the last weekend of April, historically known for its drunken debauchery. According to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols, the event was the "most successful Ivies weekend in many years," and one in which Security focused its efforts less on the punishment of offenders and instead, on keeping students safe. This changing atmosphere in which Security emphasizes safety, not just security, is evident in Security's increased presence on campus and its distribution of neon, reflective snap-bands to the student body. Many students consider Nichols, new to the department this year, a crucial element in this change.
Security's shift this year to working with students, not against them, reiterates what students and staff are most likely to remember about the College's 204th academic year?from pooling resources to aid Katrina victims to supporting each other during times of loss to encouraging discourse and resolution in all facets of Bowdoin life, this year has been one of overwhelming unity that has shaped both our shared experiences and the future life of the College.