Last week, the Orient reported on an incident at 10 Cleaveland Street that occurred early in the morning on Sunday, April 18. The article stated that police arrived in the aftermath of an altercation involving at least one Bowdoin student and a knife. According to Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood, the student in question is no longer enrolled at the College, though there were no details, allegations, or attributions of blame provided. Despite further requests for information to report a follow-up on the event, however, no new information about the incident has been released.
Nearly two weeks have passed since the altercation, and rumors have run rampant across campus speculating about the details of what exactly transpired that night. We suspect that most students participating in the gossip know the identity of the student in question, but that's not what we're after. Plenty of other, more pressing questions remain unanswered by the College. Who else was involved in the altercation, and what actions have been taken for or against him or her? Who was at fault? Is the College actually investigating the incident any further, or is the case closed? By declining to comment or answer questions on the ramifications of the on-campus incident, students are left to speculate and spread rumors.
Last year, a confrontation involving Colby Security and two Colby students turned violent and caught the attention of the entire Waterville campus. Rumors spread around Colby—and the rest of the NESCAC—that the confrontation was racially motivated, leading to student protests against the actions of Colby Security. Eventually, a College investigation concluded that the actions of the involved Colby security officers had not been racially motivated. But Colby went through an unenviable ordeal, both difficult and embarrassing.
While we're not equating Colby's incident to that which occurred on campus two weeks ago, the fundamental motivations and methods to resolve the conflict and dispel rumors are the same. Whether the truths of the event are ugly or ultimately innocent, coming clean with the facts as they are confirmed seems to be fairest way to treat both those involved and the members of the affected community. While we understand the need for a student's privacy in certain situations, incidents that have such grave implications for how we conduct ourselves at the College deserve some more public information.
The College's Bias Incident Group speaks to the fact that in some cases, the administration prioritizes community knowledge of an incident. If the event demonstrates opposition to the College's philosophy and principles, and the perpetrator of the incident is unknown, then the campus receives an e-mail from the Bias Incident Group outlining the details of the investigation.
We support these presentations of fact for the benefit they provide to our community. But given the case of the April 18 incident at 10 Cleaveland St., there seems to be a discrepancy between the disclosure awarded to a bias incident and the secrecy that surrounds an event of violence. Why does the campus hear about potential repercussions for hateful words written or spoken against another student, but no clarification is deemed necessary for a conflict with a knife, hospitalization, and expulsion?
A student involved in such cases of violence that lead to punishment by the College deserves an accurate record and fair investigation of events, such as those already afforded by the Judicial Board and the Office of the Deans. However, we also believe that in situations involving acts of violence the student body deserves more information. Though we would not presume to question the final decision of the College, to be missing such a significant portion of an incident's context is counterproductive to our understanding of the ramifications for, or resolutions to, violent behavior on campus.The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which comprises Piper Grosswendt, Will Jacob, Gemma Leghorn and Seth Walder.