On Thursday, some students wore green and black to show support for the "Jena Six" in Louisiana, a group of six black students who alleged unjust treatment by the courts because of their race.
This reminder gives us pause to consider how exclusion still affects us today?even at Bowdoin.
Earlier this week, the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) held a school-wide discussion to address problems of exclusion and safety in the Bowdoin community. Following a number of incidents in recent months that left students feeling unsafe and unwelcome, BSG decided it was time to do something.
The Bowdoin campus is a small community, and college policies can help protect us from the sort of casual bigotry and disrespect that is often ignored elsewhere in society. But it cannot inoculate us completely. Ignorance and insensitivity seep into our parties, locker rooms, and dorms more frequently than many of us think or would care to admit. We make crude, careless comments and ignore others' discomfort.
National social issues affect Bowdoin students, but our campus is no microcosm of larger society. We have our own culture here?one that we are constantly negotiating. The insular nature of our environment is often ridiculed, but it does provide us with an extraordinary opportunity to realize the ideals of justice and respect within our walls.
And while structured discussions may raise awareness about events that contradict these ideals, no number of sparsely attended "inclusiveness" forums can surmount the insidious effects of widespread indifference. We are better than we let each other be. And we cannot rely on BSG or the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs to fight these battles for us?real change will come from the grassroots.
So the next time a friend says something out of line, speak up.