This week, we have compiled the most important stories from the decade pertaining to building projects, information technology (IT), safety and security, and health and wellness at the College. We have pulled a selection of actual headlines from former issues, and condensed and synthesized stories relevant to each headline in order 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 several weeks.
Topics to come: Student affairs and campus life, college finances, admissions and reputation, environment and service, athletics, and Maine and Brunswick issues.
New director takes helm at Dudley Coe, September 15, 2000
When the Orient reported that Dr. Jeff Benson would step into the position of director of health services at Dudley Coe Health Center in 2000, a companion story stated that Benson's predecessor, nurse practitioner Robin Beltramini, had been told she had to resign after 14 years at the College. According to the Orient article, Beltramini was only told that the decision had nothing to do with patient care.
Dr. Jeff Benson leaves Bowdoin post, January 26, 2007
Benson served as director of the health center for over six years, until he unexpectedly left in January 2007, and was replaced by the current director, Sandra Hayes. In an e-mail sent to students, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster declined to elaborate on the reasons for Benson's departure. To fill the post vacated by Benson, the College contracted with two local physicians, both from Parkview Adventist Medical Center. In July of 2007, Hayes, who had been working at the health center in various capacities since 2000, was hired as interim director in July of 2007, and then hired to permanently fill the position in April of 2008.
Orient articles addressing both Beltramini and Benson's departures make note of the controversy and secrecy surrounding both events. In addition, several investigative reports into health center politics during the decade revealed that staff and personnel found the transitioning between directors difficult, and some staffers felt that the health center could not make progress or solve internal problems, given the constant state of flux.
"There's transition on the staff, you have a change in model, you have shuffling of some people and it's going to take some time" to adjust to that, Foster said in a December 7, 2007 article.
SARS virus alters study abroad plans for students, March 2, 2003
In the first episode of the decade's epidemics, two juniors studying abroad were forced to change their plans after Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) broke out in Asia. One of the students, studying in Hong Kong, opted to return home early, while the other, who was studying in Vietnam, cancelled an independent study in northern Vietnam. According to the article, many universities in the affected countries in Asia increased infection control policies, barring visitors to dormitories and requiring students and faculty to wear mandatory face masks. The office of Off-Campus Study said they worked closely with programs and students, and recommended "monitoring the SARS situation very closely" to students planning on studying abroad in East Asia in the fall of 2003.
Current supply of flu shots limited, October 21, 2005
In the fall of 2005, fears of a global flu pandemic revolved around not swine, but birds. Though the seasonal flu vaccine distributed that year did not immunize patients against avian flu, demand for the vaccine ran high along with general flu anxiety. Due to a shortage of flu vaccine allotted to Dudley Coe Health Center, however, in October of 2005 the College could only offer the vaccine to high-risk students. Dr. Jeff Benson assured students that the College hoped to receive more vaccine soon, and that the health center would be "working closely with the Maine Bureau of Health in the event that the avian flu [became] a concern in the United States."
Earlier that year, 300 students reported having contracted the seasonal flu over a two week period, according to a February 18, 2005 Orient story.
Swine flu hits state, College plans response, May 1, 2009
With five suspected cases of H1N1 in Maine, Bowdoin updated the pandemic response plan that it had "developed during the avian flu scare of 2004 to 2007." The plan details the College's four phases of response plan, which first calls for education and preparation measures, next for the quarantining and testing of cases, and finally, for the activation of the campus emergency management plan.
Though the College did not see any confirmed cases of H1N1 before sending students home for the summer, the fall of 2009 was marked by over 200 suspected cases of H1N1, with the highest period of infection falling in the first few weeks of the semester. Infected students both returned home and were quarantined in a variety of locations on campus.
Demand high for counselors, December 1, 2006
A series of Orient articles—one in 2003, one in 2004, one in 2006, and the last in 2009—documented the increased demand for counselors through the Counseling Center. In an April 18, 2003 story, the Orient reported that, according to then-Director of Counseling Bob Vilas, the number of students both seeking counseling and consults concerning medication jumped drastically from the second half of the '90s to 2003. The article reports that while the Counseling Center recorded an average of 1,300 sessions per year in the late '90s, in the period between 2001-2002, the total number of sessions totaled 1,900. In addition, the number of students seeking consults with a psychiatrist for medication went from "about 10 people a year" to 93 people in the 2001-2002 year. "That's almost a 900 percent increase," said Vilas. He also noted in a February 2004 article that 58 percent of students who visited the Counseling Center showed "some signs of depression."
By December of 2006, the significantly increased demand for counselors resulted in a waiting list. Though several students objected to having to wait for a counselor, Director of the Counseling Center Bernie Hershberger said that it is important to consider the staff in addition to students.
"I think we reach a point where if we get too stressed out, then we stop being as effective as we can be," he said, in a December 1, 2006 article.
Hershberger addressed the unprecedented student demand again in November of 2009, attributing the rise in demand "in part to a nationwide increase in the demand for therapy at a younger age." At the time of the article, the Counseling Center was used by 22 percent of the campus.
One half of campus reports Rx drug use, February 25, 2005
Though the Orient recently focused on Adderall use on campus, several reports over the decade investigated the use and abuse of a variety of prescription drugs. Statistics from the health center made available to the Orient in 2005 showed that "forty-six percent of students take a prescription medication." According to the article, 48 percent of women at Bowdoin at the time took hormonal contraceptives, while psychotropic medicines treating depression and other disorders made up 22 percent of medications taken by students. Only two percent of the student body reported taking drugs prescribed to treat ADD.
An earlier 2004 article reported that "some students are now turning to prescription drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexatrin to enhance their study habits."
"It's pretty clear that these kinds of drugs are being used by students who don't have prescriptions," said then-Director of Counseling Services Bob Vilas. According to the article, a survey conducted by the Department of Institutional Research at the College and completed by students who had matriculated in 2003 showed that "three percent had taken drugs not prescribed to them one time within the last year and that one percent had taken these drugs six times within the last year."
An Orient survey concerning Adderall use conducted in December of 2009 reported a much higher rate of students who take prescription drugs without a prescription. Of the 17 percent of survey respondents who said they have taken Adderall at Bowdoin, only 37 percent of that number reported that they have a prescription for Adderall. Fifty-two percent of students who reported having taken Adderall at Bowdoin said they had obtained it from a fellow student.
No birth control solution in sight, March 30, 2007
On February 1, 2007, Dudley Coe Health Center announced through a student Digest post that they would no longer dispense birth control pills, "due to an abrupt loss of contract with manufacturer Organon." It was later determined that the rising cost of prescription medications had contributed to the contract's termination. According to a February 9, 2007 Orient article, "Organon had been providing oral contraceptives Desogen and Cyclessa to the health center for about $1.80 a pack and the NuvaRing for about $3 a pack. At that price, the College had been able to cover the costs and distribute the medications to women on campus free of charge." However, when the cost of oral contraceptives rose to $20 per pack and $30 per pack for the NuvaRing, Organon contacted the College to say "the deal's over," said then-Student Health Program Administrator Caitlin Guitheil.
While the College considered buying contraceptive in bulk with peer schools and purchasing generic versions of contraceptives, a March 30, 2007 Orient article reported that both possibilities had been abandoned by the health center. The health center did decide to continue its distribution of Emergency contraceptive, or Plan B, to students free of charge. In 2004, purchasing a pack of Plan B from RiteAid cost $41.99.
A February 2, 2007 Orient article reported that according to a December 2005 interview with former College Physician Jeff Benson, "birth control was, by far, the most commonly prescribed medication at the health center." Between December 2004 and December 2005, the health center "distributed 3,288 packs of oral contraceptive pills."