Could someone please tell us when it became more important for the College to serve the interests of the ten members of Freeport High School's brand-new indoor track team than those of its own 1,677 students?

We recognize the College has a need for strong, friendly relationships with the local community, especially at a time when long-term planning calls for campus expansion into adjacent neighborhoods. But this relationship should not be strengthened at the cost of tuition-paying students' access to College facilities. Despite assurances from administrators and coaches to the contrary, adding the Freeport team to the list of other teams that already use the track at Farley does just that?limit access for Bowdoin students.

What's more, the most outrageous aspect of the deal with Freeport High School is its price tag?one dollar. According to the Portland Press-Herald, the proposed 20-year contract between Bowdoin and Freeport will allow the high school use of the indoor and outdoor track facilities for a measly $1 a year.

We believe the College's assertion that Bowdoin teams' schedules will not be adversely affected by the scheduling of yet another high school practice. But don't forget that there are non-varsity athletes who also want to use the facilities.

To attend Bowdoin?and have the right to use Bowdoin's facilities?these students each pay 40,000 times the amount the entire Freeport High School team pays to use the facility. Students wanting to use these facilities during the high school's scheduled time are told they can return after all the scheduled events are finished, but this is often not until late at night. This is not right. Regardless of the hour, why should tuition and fee-paying students forfeit their access to high school students from the town next door?

Some will say we are making a mountain out of a molehill. Bowdoin students who want to use the track, tennis courts, or soccer nets can come back another time (7 to 9 a.m. has been suggested), right? They are here all the time. Why can't students come on the weekend, or late at night?

But that's not the point. The College should not put itself in a position where access to the main athletic facility is divvied up between Bowdoin's teams and local high schools, leaving only inconvenient times for other student-athletes to use the space.

Athletics officials claim that the deal with Freeport is a "win-win situation for everyone," probably on account of the $300,000 the College will likely receive from Nike, via Freeport, to refurbish the track at Pickard Field.

Hopefully work on that project can start soon. Then, when Bowdoin students want to use the indoor Farley track only to find that high school students are using it instead, they can just head over to the Pickard track and brush off the snow.

Now that's getting your tuition's worth of exercise.

The Department of Athletics responds to this Orient editorial.