Bowdoin's 208th academic year rang in a series of new policies, new buildings, and new conflicts. While much of the construction that was prominent on campus during the 2006-2007 year came to an end this year, campus events continued to revolve at a fast pace. The following is a chronology of the Orient's most important stories that have shaped the Bowdoin community over the last nine months.
As students returned to Bowdoin and moved into campus housing, a dispute over Bowdoin students living at 17 Cleaveland Street delayed 11 students from moving in. Neighbors of the house raised concerns that the house was being used as a boarding house, which is prohibited by Brunswick law. Cleaveland Street residents appealed to the Brunswick Zoning Board to disallow students to reside in the house. The Board denied the appeal by a 3-2 vote.
Early in the month, an incident at Smith House prompted concerns about respect between students on campus. While the incident specifically involved allegations of sexual harassment, in dealing with the incident the College addressed not the specifics of the event, but the importance of respect between students in general. In the week following the Smith House incident, students and College officials met in a BSG-sponsored meeting to discuss issues of inclusiveness on campus.
Though Bowdoin did not suffer in the U.S. News and World Report rankings this year, coming in seventh, President Barry Mills, along with other college presidents, said that the College would no longer advertise its ranked status in new literature. This decision was made partly in response to "the way in which rankings can contribute to the frenzy and to a false sense that educational success or fit can be ranked in a single numerical list," according to Mills.
Illness arrived early on campus this year, with the number of mononucleosis cases reaching five by mid-September. Usually only diagnosing 15 to 20 cases of the disease per year, Health Center employees were surprised by the uncommonly high rate so early in the calendar.
In addition to battling illness, students also found their daily routines affected by the problematic printing across campus. In response to printers malfunctioning on a daily basis, Information Technology purchased new printers for several locations, and also made plans to replace the entire printing infrastructure in November.
The second month of the school year was rung in with the official reopening of the Walker Art Building. After two and a half years of renovation, the new building boasted a transparent glass pavilion as its main entrance, as well as increased gallery and storage space, a new climate control system, and additional handicapped accessibility. Referencing the museum's state-of-the-art facilities, Director of the Museum of Art Katy Kline said "People keep saying this is like a grown-up museum now."
Also this month, BSG debated ways in which to increase transparency. In response to perceived student body apathy about the BSG, the organization created a monthly newsletter, along with a regularly-updated blog. Meetings were held in Smith Union's Morrell Lounge for a short time, but moved back to Thorne Hall's Daggett Lounge at the request of students.
Also in October, a serious conversation began about barring the use of the College's Credit/D/Fail option when fulfilling distribution requirements. While BSG took a pro-Credit/D/Fail stance, faculty voiced their concerns about students using the option as a way to put less effort into coursework. Allen Springer, a member of the Committee on Curriculum and Educational Policy, said that "there are a number of faculty who worry that when students take courses Credit/D/Fail they simply don't take it as seriously." Many students, however, argued that the security of the option in courses that they were not as comfortable in?often those needed to fulfill distribution requirements?provided a safety net that they did not want to lose. The Committee on Curriculum and Educational Policy (CEP) planned to make a decision on the issue in December or later.
Two hundred and seventy-one students resorted to strange and often drastic tactics in October when they took part in a campus-wide game of "Assassin." The game, which lasted into February, sparked fierce competition among students who hid from and sought out their targets.
November brought more sickness to campus, this time in the form of walking pneumonia. Early in the month, the health center saw 33 cases, more than five times the usual. State health officials worked with the College beginning in mid-September to examine the outbreak, and continued to be involved through November. In addition to interviewing students who contracted the illness, the CDC collected laboratory specimens and tested different diagnostic methods on infected students. The goal of these measures was to localize the illness on campus with the hope of preventing any more students from contracting it. All students were asked to fill out an online CDC survey with questions about their activities and health. By the end of November the spread of illness had begun to subside, still, CDC officials warned that walking pneumonia has a lengthy incubation period, and that students should remain vigilant in their preventative measures.
As the final out was called in the clinching game four of the World Series, Red Sox fans delighted in another World Series pennant for their home team. Unlike the celebrating after the 2004 win, however, campus remained relatively quiet after the game ended.
According to an annual survey of enrollment of black students at top-ranked liberal arts colleges, released in November, the College's Class of 2011 ranked fifth for black-percentage of first-year classes among the 30 colleges surveyed. With 476 students total and 42 black students in the Class of 2011, Bowdoin's rate rested at 8.8 percent, a significant increase from the 3.2 percent in the Class of 2010, which only earned Bowdoin a 32nd place ranking on the survey.
The issue of inclusiveness was again brought to the forefront when a Portland Press Herald article reported an alleged incident of "mild hazing" involving the Bowdoin Women's Squash Team. The article referenced photos in an online photo album titled "Squash Initiation," and stated that Dr. Susan Lipkins, "a national expert on hazing" had identified the activity to be "mild hazing." In the wake of the Herald coverage, President Mills issued a statement to the explaining that the College had discovered another album of the same nature, involving the Bowdoin Sailing Team. Maintaining that the photos were incriminating only by their title and that no hazing had actually taken place, team members denied any reports of harassing activity. The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs looked intensively into the allegations, and concluded that it could not be determined whether the activities which had taken place several years ago could be termed hazing or not.
Before Thanksgiving Break, the Women's Field Hockey Team brought glory to the Athletics Department by taking home Bowdoin's first NCAA championship trophy in College history. The 4-3 win came against the Middlebury Panthers at Ursinus College. Celebrating their unprecedented success in the championship and throughout the season, the team arrived back on campus at 1 a.m. after their win to a cheering crowd of fans.
The community was shaken by grief upon returning from Thanksgiving, having learned during the break that Nick Barnett '11 had been killed in a car crash on November 21. Barnett was killed when the car he was driving went off the road and hit a tree. Students gathered together on campus to grieve and remember Barnett on Sunday night after returning to campus. The next day, Barnett's floormates traveled to his hometown of Lexington, MA, to attend his viewing hours that evening and a memorial service the next day. Buses transported additional Bowdoin students who wished to attend the service as well. Between 40 and 50 community members attended Barnett's services. Barnett's death especially affected members of his residence hall, Maine Hall's third floor, as well as the sailing team, of which he had already become an integral part. According to Barnett's mother, DeMille Barnett, her son loved Bowdoin and his place at the school. "He had a lot of fun while he was there," she said. "This was the kingdom he was looking for."
A proposed town ordinance that would limit the number of unrelated members able to live in a single residence generated heated debate among community members. In a town meeting, the Town Council voted almost unanimously to send the ordinance to the Brunswick zoning boards for reevaluation. The proposal held severe implications for Bowdoin students planning to live off-campus, stating that no more than two people who are not part of a "household unit" could live together. The term "household unit" specifically excluded roommate and housemate situations.
In sports, first year men's hockey player Ryan Leary scored six times in one game, breaking the record for goals scored in a single game, as well as the fastest hat trick in Bowdoin history.
Ringing in the new year with good news, the College announced that they would replace all of its student loans with permanent grants beginning in the fall of 2008. This decision was made in an effort to eliminate the debt students can incur over their four years at college, thus lessening their financial burden upon graduating. Under the new policy, permanent grants will cover all of new students' calculated need, and current students will not accumulate any further debts. To accommodate the new policy, the College's financial aid budget will grow by $2.7 million next year. This budget growth, according to President Mills, will ensure that funds are not diverted away from low-income students who need larger packages, in the process of providing grants to middle-income students.
In addition to being surprised by the College's grant announcement, students arriving back on campus after Winter Break unexpectedly found that locks had been installed on the outside doors of all Brunswick apartments. Though a December 27 intrusion led to the implementation of the security measure, concerns over safety at the apartments had been raised previously. Residents of the apartments had mixed reactions. With the new measure, students require a separate key to enter the building in addition to a room key card.
All students found new VoIP phones installed in their dorm rooms when they returned. After a year of internal testing at the College, the VoIP phones replaced the old phones, which had been used since the '70s. Though students share one phone per room, each student was given his or her own personal extension number.
Near the end of the month, a student from the Class of 2009 was hospitalized after a drunken fight with another student outside Brunswick Apartments. The victim said he did not remember what happened. More than 20 people were interviewed in the aftermath of the incident to try to piece together the sequence of events. According to Director of Security Randy Nichols, "From a Bowdoin standard, this was a very serious assault."
The campus dialogue about Credit/D/Fail concluded in February when professors voted to prohibit students from using the option for distribution requirements by a 66-16-1 vote. Though students expressed desire to keep Credit/D/Fail for distribution requirements at a rally outside the meeting, the faculty ultimately decided to cut the option. Faculty members expressed a variety of opinions supporting the decision, from the fact that the previous policy undercut Bowdoin's commitment to a policy of distributional requirements to the changed class dynamic that occurs when students exert little effort. Many students expressed disappointment regarding the decision, although the new rule will take effect beginning with the Class of 2012 and will not effect current students.
Election activity heated up on campus in the weeks preceding the Democratic and Republican national caucuses. On February 8, former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton spoke on behalf of her mother's campaign for the Democratic nomination. The day before Clinton's visit, students attended Bill Clinton's rally in Portland. In addition, students also attended an Obama rally in Bangor. The BSG funded vans to both events.
Dozens of students remained politically active throughout February when they attended the Democratic caucus at Brunswick Junior High School. The caucus, which had a record turnout of 1,326 participants, experienced a delay of more than two hours. Students who attended the caucus expressed frustration with the delays and confusion, but most were able to cast their vote. Once votes had been tallied, Obama emerged as the winner with 59 percent of the vote. Clinton won 40 percent.
Amid election excitement, students still found time to spend in the library, but starting this month they were able to bring their snacks with them. A new policy implemented in libraries across campus advocates that students "Enjoy Snacks, but Leave No Trace." A vending café was also opened in the basement of Hawthorne-Longfellow library.
Students had reason to worry about the state of their bank accounts when Hannaford Supermarkets announced that a data breach had exposed 4.2 million credit and debit cards to potential fraud. Numbers were taken between December 7, 2007 and March 10, 2008, when Hannaford discovered the breach. In response to the announcement, many students who shop at the nearby Hannaford decided to replace their credit or debit cards.
Also in March, two longtime community members announced their departure: Assistant Director of Security Mike Brown, and Director of Residential Life Kim Pacelli. Brown, who left his post at the end of the month, plans to attend graduate school at the Muskie School of Public Service in Portland in the fall, to focus on non-profit management. A member of Security for 11 years, he said that it was rewarding to work in an environment where there is "a definite emphasis on building relationships" between Security and the student body.
Pacelli, who has been involved with Residential Life for nine years, including her time at the College as a student, decided to leave Bowdoin at the end of the school year to enroll at the University of Maine Law School. Though she expressed regret in leaving "a fantastic place," she also said that she is "excited for what's next." Colleagues in Residential Life noted that Pacelli has been instrumental in changing the role of the department, and how it functions within the College.
After a year of health center woes following the sudden departure of College Physician Jeff Benson last July, Sandra Hayes was made permanent director of the Dudley Coe Health Center. Hayes, who has worked at the health center in a variety of roles since 2000, had served as interim director since Benson's departure. After an internal review of health services, it was concluded that Hayes was the right woman for the job. In her new role, Hayes said she wants to reexamine how the center does appointments, as well as address the feasibility of a walk-in clinic during the week.
Members of the community were forced to contend with another data breach when the Orient discovered, after receiving a tip, that confidential information, including student Social Security numbers and insurance information, had been left unsecured on the College's "Microwave" server. The information was contained in former Student Health Program Administrator Caitlin Gutheil's folder. Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis said in an e-mail to the community that "We have no reason at this time to believe that any of the information was actually accessed, transferred to, or used by anyone off-campus." The College brought in a New York City-based firm, specializing in computer forensics and investigations to probe the matter further.
Ending the year on a high note, Bowdoin was named "School of the Year" by the widely read College Prowler guide book. Bowdoin is the first school to receive this award from College Prowler. CEO Luke Skurman stated that his visit to the College confirmed that his guide book was portraying Bowdoin accurately when he saw "professors who truly care about teaching undergrads" as well as "amazing campus food," "a campus full of brand-new dorms in a peaceful, safe harmonious setting," and students who are "happy, modest, smart and [have] a great sense of purpose."
In sports, the men's tennis team celebrated a NESCAC championship victory at Middlebury College at the end of April, marking the first NESCAC men's championship since the cross-country win in 2002.
Students celebrated a sunny Ivies Weekend without injury or mishap. After a day of hip-hop acts from Naughty by Nature and Talib Kweli, students wound down, ready to start the long haul of reading period and finals.