In its 207th academic year, Bowdoin was shaped by a spirit of revising and revamping. From the countless construction projects that spotted campus to the rethinking of policies, the year left the College changed both in its landscape and mindset.
As students returned to campus, they found many physical changes had been made to the campus. The College adjusted several buildings and walkways around campus to make them handicap accessible, and renovations of the Walker Art Building and Curtis Pool were still underway. Furthermore, newly renovated Appleton and Hyde halls were open for occupancy. Coleman and Moore halls were taped off and under construction. First years gave high marks to the renovated dorms, which consist almost exclusively of quads instead of the usual doubles and triples for first years. But, as first years moved into spacious quads, some residents of Stowe Hall and Brunswick Apartments squeezed into forced quints and triples as a result of last spring's housing crunch.
Meanwhile, after a Trustees meeting, recommendations by an advisory committee, and four months of deliberation, President Barry Mills made public his recommendation for Bowdoin's investment policy on the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. While the College did not have any direct investments to divest, Mills proposed that the College avoid making any direct investments in companies that do business in Darfur and set aside any profits made from indirect investments in Darfur for humanitarian donations. Although Mills recommended against forming a permanent college committee to identify crimes against humanity, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) later created a group that would consider the College's response to humanitarian crises.
Near the end of the month, the College announced that it would seek to acquire a 450-acre parcel of land from the Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS), thus tripling the size of the campus. The announcement of the plans was made, despite concern by state Rep. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, who feared that Bowdoin's plans would compete with his proposal for a new, 1,000-acre town commons to be carved from the base.
In another clash with the town, Brunswick police broke up a 1980s-themed party at Quinby House, which left a police officer injured, one student in jail until he could post bail, and another facing a court appearance.
Despite these instances of negative attention for the College, Dining Service took the spotlight again as it ranked No. 1 in Princeton Review "Best 361 Colleges" in the category of food.
As the second month of school began, the College was dismayed to learn that three students had been arrested for drunk driving in Brunswick. The number of arrests during the first month of the year was significantly higher than the two arrests made during the entire 2005-2006 academic year.
Students breathed a sigh of relief as Alex Cornell du Houx '06 returned safely to campus after a seven-month deployment in Fallujah, Iraq. Cornell du Houx, who left Bowdoin during December 2005 to train with his unit, re-enrolled in classes shortly after his return.
Still, there were other worries on campus. Students feared that WBOR 91.1 FM would be taken off the air. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) informed the station that its poor record of public service announcements could cost WBOR its space on the air.
The FCC was not the only one trying to keep students in line. In response to the rowdy behavior of students at Super Snack, the football team announced that it would assist the checker with security at the entrance.
The football team's stellar commitment to student behavior at Super Snack was only surpassed by its incredible comeback in the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin championship in Waterville. After starting the season 0-6, the Bears defeated Bates on November 4 and came from behind in the fourth quarter against Colby on November 11 to take the CBB championship.
The field hockey team also dominated the turf this fall. After winning 13 games in a row, the team finally lost at the NCAA Final Four in Geneva, New York. The Bears ended their season with a record of 17-2.
As election time neared, students displayed their support and disdain for issues and candidates. In particular, a lively discussion surrounded the proposed Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) referendum, which, if it had passed, would have altered taxes and spending?affecting aid for higher education. On Election Day, more than 400 Bowdoin students cast ballots in Maine.
Soon after polls closed, another campaign was just starting for Bowdoin. The College officially launched its $250 million capital campaign at an event in Boston. The Bowdoin Campaign would aim to raise money for financial aid, and also gain funds for academic affairs to create 12 new faculty positions and for student affairs to build a new ice rink and a Center for the Common Good.
But the College did not wait for the opening of the Center of the Common Good to engage in civic-minded activities. The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to avoid direct investments with companies that do business in Darfur and to avoid making indirect investments with such companies when possible.
Students joined with the Board of Trustees in its concern for the genocide in Darfur. The Darfur Coalition, which consisted of several student organizations, planned a week-long effort to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
Also in November, a power outage left much of the campus, as well as some 20,000 Brunswick residents, without electricity from the early afternoon through the night.
Luckily, power was restored long before a group of visitors came to evaluate the College on its improvement in a number of areas. The reaccreditation committee from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) conducted an assessment which it does once every 10 years. The committee praised Bowdoin's academic program, diversity of student body, investment in facilities, and faculty growth. However, it did recommend that the College monitor its academic advising program.
As the semester wound down, first-year students living in Maine and Winthrop halls packed up. With the completion of the renovations in Coleman and Moore halls, the first years transported their belongings to their rooms in the newly completed dorms. Upon their exodus, renovations began on Maine and Winthrop halls.
Arriving on campus for a fresh start to a new semester, the college community was saddened by the news of the untimely death of activist Hanley Denning '92. Denning, who was killed in a car crash a few days before the start of spring semester, had dedicated her life to serving needy Guatemalan children and their families. Many Bowdoin students have volunteered and raised money for Safe Passage, the organization she founded in Guatemala.
The College also dealt with the departure of Director of Health Serivces Dr. Jeff Benson. After seven years of service, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster said Benson left Bowdoin to pursue other professional opportunities. Later in April, the College announced that it would drop the position of a full-time doctor. Instead, the health center will replace Benson with a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant. It will contract with a local physician's office to bring one or two doctors to campus for a combined 10 hours per week.
The College also remained committed to wellness as it adopted a new sexual assault and misconduct policy. The policy, which was adapted from the University of Virginia, aims to make it easier to address issues of sexual assault and misconduct. It clarifies the definition of sexual assault and misconduct and provides three options to handle cases: mediation, formal hearings, or a structured meeting with staff from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs.
Students were surprised and concerned with the news of the health center's sudden loss of its contraceptive contract. While it would continue to provide Plan B, the health center announced that it would no longer be able to dispense birth control pills and NuvaRings. The College lost the contract with the manufacturer, Organon, due to rising costs of prescription drugs.
The College also revealed another change in plans?this time for its multicultural house. Currently, multicultural organizations have access to Boody-Johnson House, but starting next year, this building will house offices instead. The College announced its plans to renovate 30 College St. to replace Boody-Johnson as the home for multicultural organizations.
Students also learned that Reed and Burnett houses would have a status change for next year?they will become college houses instead of regular dorms. The change will increase the number of college houses from six to eight. The decision was made to reflect the increase in first-year dorms.
Meanwhile, students across campus expressed a desire to revisit the Credit/D/Fail policy. The current policy allows students to opt to take any four classes outside their major on a Credit/D/Fail grading scale. Next week, the Recording Committee will propose a Grade/Credit/D/Fail policy to the faculty, which would enable students to set a lowest acceptable grade for themselves. If they fail to reach their minimum grade, they would be graded as they would have been under the current Credit/D/Fail system.
The College also broadened its horizons. Chris Hill '74, assistant secretary of state, came to campus to deliver a lecture. Hill arrived on campus just days after leading the U.S. negotiating team in the six-party talks in Beijing. In his speech he defended the decision to make an agreement with North Korea. The Bowdoin community was among the first to hear Hill make public comments about the agreement that he helped to craft.
March saw yet another set of renovation plans. This time, the College said that it was close to hiring an architectural firm to design a new fitness center. The renovation will increase the size of the fitness center three-fold.
On the basketball court, the women's basketball team had an impressive season at 29-2. The team finally lost in the elite eight, when it was defeated by Mary Washington at Scranton, Pennsylvania.
In a response to a Time Magazine article "The College Rankings Revolt," college administrators discussed their views of college rankings, particularly those from U.S. News and World Report. The Time article reported that several small colleges are planning to send out a letter to peer institutions, inquiring if they would be willing to halt participation in the U.S. News survey. Although Dean of Admissions Bill Shain said that the most important aspects of a college are not quantifiable, rankings still serve as important tools for prospective students. Similarly, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood called rankings a "reality," and said that Bowdoin would not likely participate in the "rankings revolt." After all, Bowdoin's spot in the top-10 list likely attracted many of the students who applied to be part of the class of 2011, which is the most selective class in Bowdoin's history. Only 18.5 percent of the 5,899 students who applied were accepted this year.
Late in the season, Bowdoin had its first snow day in more than 30 years. Due to inclement weather and power outages around campus, the treasurer's office announced the cancellation of the day's classes
Meanwhile, BSG sought to accommodate members of the junior class who would miss class for an entire semester?to study abroad. Concerns were raised to BSG about students who wished to study abroad for one semester and serve on BSG for the other semester. In response, BSG passed a constitutional amendment that would allow juniors to serve half-year terms. After it was brought to a school referendum, the amendment passed.
Sophomore Ian Yaffe soon raised additional concerns about BSG policies. Although Yaffe had never served on BSG, he wished to run in the presidential election for the 2007-2008 academic year. However, BSG's constitution states that all presidential candidates must have previously served on BSG. In an attempt to amend this section of the constitution, Yaffe gathered enough signatures to petition BSG to bring the question to a school referendum. The vote on the referendum was ruled invalid because of insufficient voter turnout.
Although candidates for BSG treasurer have been required in the past to have served on the Student Activities Funding Committee to be eligible for office, this year's election was open to all students. The change was made due to a clause in the BSG constitution that was inadvertantly removed last year. Nicole Willey '08 won the election for the position.
In another form of student activism, more than 400 Bowdoin students and Brunswick residents attended Step It Up, an anti-climate change rally, which was held in Morrell Gym. The gathering was one of many that occurred across the country that day. Each rally sought to ask Congress to commit to an 80-percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
Tragedy struck further down the East Coast as 33 people lost their lives in the shootings at Virginia Tech. The shootings struck close to home for many at Bowdoin, as it shattered the safe haven of a learning community.
Back at Bowdoin, another newly renovated building opened this spring. After more than a year and a half of construction, the $15 million Studzinski Recital Hall reached completion.
In the familiar spirit of remodeling, the College officially announced its plans to make changes to Bannister Hall, the new home of the center for the Common Good. The center, which was conceived in 2001, is set to open in fall 2008. It will be funded through the capital campaign, which is seeking $3 million for the project. But that construction is for another year.