On campus, underage possession of alcohol can lead to a write-up from Security and a meeting with a Dean; off campus, it can lead to a court date, as eight Bowdoin students have learned this academic year.
In addition to the two students who received summons on September 15 on Union Street—one for underage consumption of alcohol, the other for furnishing it—six students received summons on September 8 at 6 Summer Street.
Last year, over 130 students chose to forego the housing lottery and find their residences off campus. The College is mindful of the legal risks these students face when hosting parties.
Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols tries to meet with students living off campus at the beginning of each semester. He tells these students that decisions made in college can have not only immediate implications, but also permanent ones, and explains why underage drinking poses a greater legal risk for students living off campus.
“Students who live off campus are most vulnerable to run-ins with the law having an underage party involving alcohol. We’ve had a number of incidents recently, and in recent years, where students living off campus have been charged with furnishing alcohol to minors,” Nichols said. “When I meet with students in group settings, usually at their house, that’s one of the areas that I focus on, because I think that’s where they’re most likely to have a negative contact with Brunswick police.”
Nichols said that he stresses the long-term implications of criminal records at these meetings. He points out that these records can make findig a job difficult, even years after the crime took place.
“Our goal is for our students to leave Bowdoin safe and sound, with a clean record, and it bothers me very much whenever I see a Bowdoin student get into trouble with the law, because it’s so preventable,” Nichols said.
As off campus residences are not Bowdoin property, Security is not legally allowed to step foot in one without an invitation from the students living there or their landlord.
“The only time when Bowdoin security would respond to an off campus incident at one of these houses is when the police would notify us and ask for our presence there,” Nichols said.
Deputy Chief Marc Hagan said that the Brunswick Police Department (BPD) has an understanding with Security, but the two organizations have different priorities.
“Bowdoin College Security Officers are responsible for the safety and security of Bowdoin students, faculty, visitors, and the Bowdoin campus as a whole. The mission of the Brunswick Police Department is to enhance the quality of life for all residents and visitors to the entire Brunswick community,” Hagan wrote in an email to the Orient. “One of the manners in which we are tasked to meet this mission is by enforcing the law in a fair and impartial manner.”
Hagan explained that the only differece between how the BPD approaches on- and off-campus housing is that when on campus, BPD officers are generally accompanied by Bowdoin Security officers.
“If we can [respond] with a simple request to turn the music or noise down, then that is fine with us and we will move on to other calls for service,” wrote Hagan.
If students ignore that request, officers consider other options, including shutting the event down, issuing summonses, or even making arrests, Hagan said.
Hagan said officers respond differently to every situation, and the treatment they receive can affect the course of action they pursue.
“Police officers are not any different than anyone else,” Hagan said. “And like everyone else, we don’t appreciate being lied to, being called names, rude or sarcastic comments, and so forth. We allow our officers a great deal of discretion in the manner in which they conduct the day to day business of law enforcement and people might be surprised how understanding and helpful our officers can be when treated in an honest and fair manner.”