This week, we have compiled the most important stories from the decade pertaining to faculty, administration, and world events. We have pulled a selection of actual headlines and relevant stories to showcase some of the most significant moments and enduring issues covered by the Orient. While our compilation is comprehensive, it is by no means complete. We encourage readers to pursue these headlines and others in our online archives, and to read our future installments of this series over the next two weeks.
Terror bursts Bowdoin bubble, September 14, 2001
In the tumultuous hours following Al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks on U.S. cities on September 11, 2001, the College's Disaster Response team was immediately activated, Residential Life identified students with ties to New York, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh, allowing proctors and RAs to track students down, and administrators and students convened in Morrell Gym, as President Barry Mills spoke, beginning his term as president in the midst of crisis.
"We'd been in session for about two weeks when 9/11 happened," said Mills in an interview with the Orient on Wednesday. "Here I was, directly from my office in NYC, to become president of the College, and 9/11 happens and there I am with 2,000 people in the gym looking at me to really sort of put this in perspective for them. It was a maturing moment in my own experience."
The Disaster Response team worked simultaneously to prepare Farley Field House to serve as an emergency shelter for passengers on planes that might be diverted from their original destinations to the Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB). No flights were diverted to NASB, however, and preparations for the shelter ceased.
On the day of the event, Governor Angus King said that he did not believe Maine was in danger of a terrorist attack, "but it's essential to be prepared for any and every possible circumstance." When the Portland International Jetport was reopened two days following 9/11, security efforts remained exceptionally high. The Naval Air Station Brunswick also heightened security measures, elevating its level of alert to "Threat Condition Delta, the highest level of security in the military." Base officials conducted searches on all cars entering the base, and also cancelled the base's annual Great State of Maine Air Show, which had been scheduled for September 22 and 23.
In the weeks following 9/11, students joined together to provide aid and comfort to those affected, through Red Cross Blood Drives, speakers, and forums meant for students and faculty to share their impressions and feelings. Maine's military, state and federal agencies remained on high alert for weeks. A scare involving Anthrax occurred at the College on November 2, 2001, when a student found a small amount of unidentifiable white power in his Coles Tower room. After Security responded, another student admitted that the powder was the contents of a stress ball.
Pranks aside, Brunswick police said in February of 2003 that the town was well prepared for terror. Since 2002, the Town of Brunswick received $70,000 worth of equipment in the fall of 2002 alone. The equipment ranges from "M9 paper", which tests for biological agents to anthrax kits and decemeters, which measure radiation dosage...a Hazardous Waste Materials (HAZMAT) Unit trailer tightly filled with supplies such as decontamination tents, encapsulated suits and monitors for measuring the levels of agents in a potential victim." Then-Chief of Brunswick Fire and Town Emergency Management Director Gary Howard said "we have more equipment than we can deal with."
Marine returns from Iraq service, October 27, 2006
After a seven-month deployment in Fallujah, Iraq, U.S. Marine Alex Cornell du Houx '06 returned home to Maine with the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines on October 26, 2005. "One deployment is plenty," he said. After leaving Bowdoin in December of 2005, Cornell du Houx prepared for "desert and urban combat" at U.S. training camps. Stating that there is "there is no typical day in Iraq," Cornell du Houx said that his unit was responsible for "convoy security, guard duty, patrolling the roads, hitting houses, ambushes, manning observation posts, [and] other sustained operations.
Cornell du Houx, who served as president of the Maine College Democrats before his deployment, said he "learned a great deal during this deployment and it is great to be able to experience being in a more liberal setting such as Bowdoin as well as a more conservative environment such as the Marines," but his deployment "has not affected my political ideology."
BSG rejects student resolution on Iraq, February 28, 2003
While Cornell du Houx came face to face with the realities of war in Iraq, the Bowdoin community was also engaged with events in Iraq before and during their height. In February of 2003, students and faculty joined a gathering of over 1,000 demonstrators in Portland opposing the possible war. In the same month, The Bowdoin Coalition Against the War in Iraq (BCAWI) requested that the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) endorse their petition opposing the war, which had 924 signatures at the time of the request. BCAWI argued that because a clear majority of the student body supported the petition, it warranted support from the BSG. BSG, however rejected the resolution, and then-Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley added "I'm not sure why the petition organizers are seeking the endorsement of student government per se, I think 1,000 signatures sent to the Maine Congressional Delegation from 1,000 Bowdoin signatories would be a powerful political statement in its own right."
Despite BSG's refusal to endorse the petition, campus dialogue, facilitated particularly by professors and political groups, continued. According to Mills, however, the level of interest in the Iraq War pales when compared to causes of earlier decades, such as the war in Vietnam—a tension that was escalated on account of the draft.
"I think there was certainly involvement by folks in various ways around the Iraq war, but I would say it was relatively modest," said Mills. "I think our students were definitely involved in thinking about the Iraq war, but I don't get the sense that our campus is...at the highest level of politically active places."
Abroad program reacts to tsunami , January 28, 2005
The tsunami that struck nations across south Asia on December 26, 2004, spared Bowdoin students, faculty, and alumni at the Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education (ISLE) program, based at the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, which is in Sri Lanka's interior. Hundreds of thousands of others, however, some of them University of Peradeniya students traveling, were victims of the tsunami's destruction. Relief efforts were initiated both within ISLE and the University of Peradeniya. Relief efforts at the College began when students returned from Winter Break.
Students respond in Katrina's wake, September 9, 2005
In August of 2005, natural disaster occurred closer to Bowdoin, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the U.S., devastating New Orleans, the coast of Mississippi, and other regions. Within the student body at the time were "seven Bowdoin students from New Orleans, and a dozen others from surrounding areas." In the first week back on campus, the Community Service Resource Center partnered with campus groups to organize "12 Days of Attention: 12 Months of Impact," which raised $5,191 for relief efforts. The College also announced that it would donate "$30,000 to three historically black colleges located in the Gulf Coast area that were affected by the storm."
Students join forces for Haiti, January 29, 2010
In January of 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, devastating the capital of Port-au-Prince, as well as much of the surrounding area. Upon returning to campus, Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff worked to facilitate events, promote awareness of Haiti's culture, and plan the upcoming Haiti Action Week to raise funds for organizations who are currently aiding survivors on the ground in Haiti.
President issues Darfur proposal, September 22, 2006
In September of 2006, following a trustee meeting, recommendations by an advisory committee, and months of deliberation, President Mills made public his recommendation regarding Bowdoin's investment policy in the Darfur region of Sudan. In light of the humanitarian crisis occurring in Darfur since 2003, in addition to student desire to ensure that the College only invest in socially-responsible companies, "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."
In November, the board seconded Mills' decision, and voted unanimously "to avoid direct investments with companies that do business in Darfur and to avoid making indirect investments with such companies when possible." When the policy was established, Bowdoin had no investments in Darfur, either direct or indirect, from which to divest.
Students turned away from polls, November 10, 2000
In the 2000 Presidential election, several Bowdoin students were initially denied their right to vote, based on ambiguity regarding their residency. According to the November 10 article, "at least 10 students were initially refused the right to vote by Town Registrar Pauline Brilliant. According to Brilliant, "the students asked her questions regarding residency that intimated that they were not interested in becoming residents of Maine, but, rather, only wanted to use their Maine residency to vote this past Tuesday." When Brilliant told students that they could be arrested for voting as Maine residents, Professor of Government Mark Hetherington called Brilliant, and clarified that the students were residents of Maine for "eight months out of the year," adding that "the registrar should facilitate students in their desire to vote, rather than discourage them."
Top Maine Dems will lead convention , September 17, 2004
In September of 2004, Bowdoin hosted the Maine College Democrats of America College Convention, which featured speakers Governor John Baldacci and Congressman Tom Allen. "We thought it would be an excellent way to get the state organized and mobilized for the elections," Alex Cornell du Houx '06 said. During the convention, about 25 members of the College Republicans chanted outside Moulton Union during Baldacci's speech, then chased his car down Maine St. as he left the campus. "[We] want to make sure that people know that Bowdoin is Bush country," College Republicans Chairman Alex Linhart '06 said before the speech.
Bowdoin students ejected from Bush event, September 24, 2004
Excitement surrounding the presidential election mounted in 2004, with both the College Republicans and Democrats active. During a Bush rally in September, two Bowdoin students were ejected from the event on a suspicion that they planned to protest. The two students were recognized by a fellow Bowdoin student at the event, who was on leave for the semester to work as Chairman of the Maine College Republicans. One of the students ejected claimed that it was on account of their Republican classmate that they were made to leave. Though the students ejected from the rally found the incident unfair and surprising, other students supported the decision. "Law enforcement has more important things to worry about," said one student.
Students rejoice in Obama victory , November 7, 2008
The historic election of President Barack Obama in 2008 had one of Bowdoin's own at the heart of the youth campaign. Meredith Segal '08, who worked as executive director of Students for Barack Obama, worked closely with Obama and his team throughout the campaign process. In Brunswick, election excitement—and disorganization—was apparent early on, with 45,000 voters statewide voting in February's democratic caucuses. An Orient poll reported on October 31, 2008, that 84.3 percent of students supported Senator Obama, and 11.7 percent supported Senator John McCain. This enthusiasm for Obama was apparent shortly after 11 p.m. on November 4, 2008, when approximately 200 students marched through the Quad shouting and cheering, following President Obama's victory speech just minutes before.
"I think the event that took place over the last 10 years that had the biggest impact that I saw on campus was Obama's election," said Mills. "The entire community's engagement in Obama's candidacy and in civic affairs was at a level that was higher than its been at the College in years."