Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster sent an all-campus email this evening announcing that the College will take disciplinary action against students who dressed up as Native Americans at an off-campus party before Thanksgiving. Student groups and faculty have made a concerted effort to educate students about cultural appropriation in the past year. Last May students organized a teach-in that specifically addressed concerns about the appropriation of Native American attire. The Orient will run a full story when it returns to press in Janaury.

Dear Members of the Bowdoin Community,
I write to reinforce the principles of our College and to express my personal frustration and my disapproval of harmful behavior by students who should know better.
Last month, just before Thanksgiving, students living at 83 1/2 Harpswell Road—the so-called “Crack House” rented by some members of the men’s lacrosse team—hosted a party known as “Cracksgiving,” for which students were encouraged to dress up as Pilgrims and Native Americans. The invitation urged students to attend “wearing your finest Thanksgiving attire.” Fourteen of the lacrosse team’s fifty or so members went forward with costumes, even after some of the team’s other members actively tried to talk them out of it.
For some, wearing a headdress and “war paint” on one’s face and bare chest is just harmless fun. For others, it is cultural appropriation that demonstrates poor judgment and insensitivity. And for others still, it is a racist act that perpetuates prejudice, promotes hurtful stereotypes, and demeans others. Especially disturbing is that the hosts of this event knew—or should have known—that their actions would offend; yet they went ahead with their plans nonetheless.
Unfortunately, none of this is new. Last year, there was a similar party that prompted members of our faculty and the Native American Student Association to create programming aimed at raising awareness about cultural appropriation and why it is unwelcome at Bowdoin. The event was covered in the Bowdoin Orient. And just a few weeks ago, in anticipation of Halloween and “Cracksgiving,” student leaders held a “Cultural Appropriation Fashion Show” hoping to educate students about inappropriate costumes. Many got the point and decided not to wear costumes to “Cracksgiving.” But others, including some of the party hosts who knew about and/or attended these educational efforts, chose to willfully ignore the message.
So, what can we do when we educate about prejudice, ignorance, and insensitivity but continue to have people who engage in behavior that is hurtful and demeaning to others? 
One thing we can do is to say loudly, clearly, and repeatedly that this behavior is not okay. Dean Amaez and I have had several conversations with leaders of the men’s lacrosse team, and the team and their coach have discussed this situation together. Members of the team now recognize that these actions were hurtful, and they have decided that the tradition of “Cracksgiving” has run its course.
While I’m glad the team has begun productive conversations about this matter, we must continue to educate about these issues and the impact this behavior has on members of our community. We will take disciplinary action against those who recently dressed in Native American attire since this is “conduct unbecoming of a Bowdoin student.” And we will not tolerate attempts to silence the substantial ongoing student leadership and dialogue on these issues through malicious, personal attacks posted anonymously on Yik Yak and elsewhere—posts that cannot be described as anything other than cowardly. We are, to put it bluntly, better than that.
The message must be clear: Bowdoin will not condone or tolerate behavior that divides our community and denigrates others, nor will we accept a plea of ignorance as license to avoid accountability. At this moment in America, as tensions run high about race, class, and inequality, we must continue to learn from one another, to think before we act, and to take responsibility for our actions and our mistakes.
Tim Foster
Dean of Student Affairs