The proposed zoning ordinance that would prohibit two or more unrelated persons from living together in one household unit may have been masked as an innocuous decree intended to preserve the quality of neighborhoods in Brunswick, but its underlying message is clear: Bowdoin students are not welcome by some neighbors outside of the college community.
Although the ordinance itself makes no specific mention of students, citizens who spoke in favor of the measure at Tuesday night's meeting repeatedly cited the off-campus student house at 17 Cleaveland St. in their remarks, confirming our fear that this proposal is little more than poorly disguised discrimination.
Those who spoke in favor of Zoning Ordinance 166?including two Bowdoin professors, who fully understand the on-campus crisis that eliminating all off-campus housing would create?cited increased stress and conflict as major consequences of having students for neighbors. Pegged as noisy, messy, and delinquent, student tenants are better confined to campus, supporters of the ordinance seem to suggest.
If this ordinance were to pass in its present state, it would mean signing into law the unfounded stereotype that all, or even most, students make bad neighbors. As it stands now, students living off campus (and on campus as well) are still held to the same legal expectations as other citizens, meaning that if they are, in fact, noisy, messy, or delinquent, they can be charged with noise violations, littering charges, or criminal offenses, respectively. Indeed, to presume that a group of three unrelated students living together is going to be any noisier than a family with three related teenagers is to knowingly accept the inclusion of prejudice into the town's legal code.
We regret that only one non-Orient student attended the town council meeting where Zoning Ordinance 166 was discussed, but the buzz in the dining halls surrounding the issue this week encourages us that the student body has not let this proposal go unnoticed. While a handful of Bowdoin students may have been partying too hard to notice the introduction of this biased ordinance, the rest of us must take it upon ourselves to ensure that this anti-student scheme does not pass?that is, if we can find the time between mentoring at Brunswick's elementary schools, participating in local fundraisers, and serving meals at the Tedford Shelter.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Steve Kolowich, Anne Riley, Anna Karass, Adam Kommel, Mary Helen Miller, and Joshua Miller.