Politics, process and practice of medical leaves at Bowdoin
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Home for how long? Bowdoin students feel impact of immigration policies
On Saturday, January 29, Bowdoin students joined 4,000 Mainers at Portland International Jetport (PWM) to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. While no one was being held at PWM, the protest was carried out to stand in solidarity with people trapped both at U.S. airports and around the world as a result of Trump’s executive order.
While many individuals who attend political protests may not feel immediate fear, some Bowdoin students do. We spoke to four students who have been directly impacted by our president’s actions: Mohamed Nur ’19, Giselle Hernandez ’19, Anu Asaolu ’19 and Hayat Fulli ’19.
Nur is the son of Somali immigrants. His parents fled the Somali civil war in the 90s and arrived in Portland in 1993. While there are now thousands of Somali people living in Portland, Nur’s parents were some of the first to come to Maine.
“We’ve been trying to get my mom’s side of the family, our grandfather, some of our uncles, to come to the US for years, and now that’s no longer going to be an option anymore [now that Somalia is on the list of banned countries],” said Nur.
Many of Nur’s friends from home in Portland have had similar experiences.
“[The order] was absolutely insane, because there are so many people that I know in Portland who are from Somalia, who are from Iraq, Iran, Syria. All my friends are from those countries, and every time I call home or text friends from home, something new has happened,” said Nur.
“Whether parents are stuck in Iraq, or their sick grandma who’s been trying to come to the U.S. for decades can’t come here anymore and now she has to stay wherever she is and continue to be sick, it’s just really devastating and difficult to hear.”
Asaolu immigrated to Minnesota from Nigeria in 2001 and while Nigeria is not one of the seven countries on the ban, she is nervous about the possible expansion of the order.
“Nigeria is not on the list, [but] Somalia and Libya, other African countries, are on the list and Muslim territories and if you don’t know, the northern part of Nigeria is Muslim, [and includes] Boko Haram terrorists,” said Asaolu.
While she would like to take some sort of action, Asaolu has also felt the need to monitor herself.
“I shared [a petition] on Facebook, then that night my mom called me she said, ‘Why are you doing this—you don’t want to draw more attention to yourself than you need to,’” Asaolu continued. “There’s a lot of fear because I want to be active, but at the same time she is right. I can’t put myself in the open.”
Hernandez is more personally concerned about Trump’s Mexican immigration policy and his proposed wall. Her mother immigrated illegally from Mexico and she knows people will not stop attempting to enter the country.
“A wall will just make it more dangerous for people trying to pass.” said Hernandez. “Hundreds of people, hundreds, have died in the past decade coming into the U.S. And [the wall] is just going to increase those numbers. It’s not going to keep people out, it’s just going to make it more dangerous for people to come.”
As Hernandez noted, coming to the United States legally is not a realistic possibility for some immigrants.
“People say, ‘You just have to do it right, you have to [immigrate] legally,’” Hernandez continued. “Sometimes, that’s not an option … If my mom had been waiting, it would have taken her 26 years, [like it did for my aunt] to become a legal resident.”
Instead, Hernandez’s mom crossed the border to the United States illegally in 1990. She became a legal resident 23 years later in 2013, not because her paperwork was finally processed but because her eldest daughter turned 21.
Like Nur, Fulli was born and raised in Portland. Her parents are from Ethiopia and, while she too worries about the extension of the immigration ban, its immediate and unexpected arrival has left her disoriented.
“I don’t know, I think it’s hard just because I feel like I haven’t even processed it. So sometimes especially with the conversations at Bowdoin I’m fearful it will be expected that I have all these answers and kind of have all these experiences that I’m just supposed to share when in reality I just don’t really know what it means for me,” said Fulli. “I have these certain emotions but I don’t really know what that looks like, and [what] actions [to take], or what that means.”
The escape Bowdoin offers Fulli can be relieving, but the lack of any casual conversation about the ban on campus has also been worrying.
“I think there’s this false security that I feel at Bowdoin that sometimes I lean on but at the same time makes me feel a little incomplete, because at home, 40 minutes away, it’s just a different environment.”
Hernandez has found strength in Bowdoin’s tightly-knit community.
“The people that I associate with, the people that I’m friends with, generally have all expressed the same thing: ‘No ban, no wall.’ That’s really reassuring,” she said.
Nur, though, has also noticed a difference in tone between how his Portland community has reacted compared to Bowdoin, and is frustrated by Bowdoin’s lack of daily dialogue on the subject.
“My high school that I went to, they’ve been protesting left and right … It’s really inspiring to see high schoolers getting out there, protesting, marching and knowing that they’ll stand up for their friends … I wish, at least here at Bowdoin … we were more vocal or just as vocal as them because if they can do it why aren’t we.”
Asaolu also believes the student body can do more.
“How much people are not talking about [the ban] really freaks me out. There are select target populations of people speaking about it … but there are so many people who claim to be liberals on campus who don’t view this as something to be discussed,” she said.
Nur agreed, noting, “I want more people to talk about it. Because there are definitely people on this campus who are being directly impacted by [Trump’s actions]. I want people to be able to attach a face to a name, to humanize this issue.”
Politics, process and practice of medical leaves at Bowdoin
We talked to over 15 students and 12 administrators about health at Bowdoin. Many of our peers have found frustration in the complexity and obscurity of who has not only the power, but also the judgment to make these decisions. Moreover, how does Bowdoin support a student whose health concerns cannot necessarily be solved with a medical leave?
Austin Goldsmith ’18 was two weeks into her first year at Bowdoin when she got her first concussion during a volleyball game. Her struggle to make it to classes led to several meetings with former Dean of First Year Students Janet Lohmann, who suggested Goldsmith take a medical leave—an option in which Goldsmith was not interested.
“[Does] a strong word from Lohmann make [my leave] involuntary? Does that mean it’s not my decision? ... What power or autonomy do I have?” said Goldsmith in a phone interview with the Orient. “As much as the [Bowdoin Student] Handbook gives you information, it’s so unclear and it’s so vague.”
According to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, medical leave cases are considered on a case-by-case basis. However, the deans have displayed a pattern of strongly recommending a voluntary medical leave to students.
Approximately 10 to 20 students are on voluntary medical leave each semester, according to Kim Pacelli, the senior associate dean of student affairs. However, many students feel pressured by the deans’ recommendations and question whether these leaves are elective in practice or if the College is making the decision for them.
Read stories of eight students' experiences with medical leave and mental health at Bowdoin.
The Handbook states students may “request a voluntary medical leave in the event that the student believes that physical and/or mental health concerns are significantly interfering with the ability to succeed at Bowdoin [or to recover].”
Only if a student is presenting a “significant threat” to themselves or others while on campus, the deans, in consultation with the health care provider, may force a student to go home. The Handbook classifies this as an involuntary medical leave. According to Pacelli, no students are on involuntary medical leave this semester. These leaves, Pacelli noted, are “pretty rare.”
In the case of voluntary medical leaves, occasionally a student may enter the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs knowing he or she would like to request a leave. However, some students question whether a leave will benefit their health, resist postponing their graduation date or feel hesitant to go through the process of readmission upon return. Many times, students feel the conversation with their dean is what ultimately guides their decision.
Former Dean of First Year Students Janet Lohmann claimed to be “a fan of the leave.”
“My goal is that I want students to be successful at Bowdoin,” said Lohmann. “If I feel that students are limping along and compromising their success merely for the sake of being here, then really I want [the student] to be able to perform at the level [the student is] capable of.”
The administrators who spoke with the Orient on this subject shared this sentiment.
Many students who spoke with the Orient felt this pressure from their deans as well.
“[The deans are] very pushy. They’re like ‘this is what we want—we want you to do well. Bowdoin is four years of your life and we want you to get the best time with it, not struggling to get through it, for reasons beyond your control,’” Goldsmith said. “That was the biggest message I got. We want you to have the best experience possible.”
While unsure how her concussion would progress, Goldsmith knew she would be happier to remain at school, rather than leave for the year and re-matriculate the following fall, as is asked of first years taking a medical leave their fall semester.
“[Lohmann] could have been right… She was coming from ‘oh we’ve seen this before and we’ve seen this go both ways.’ I’m sure she’s seen a lot of more people do poorly than do well,” continued Goldsmith. “[But] she didn’t know me the way that I knew me.”
Goldsmith did not take a leave that fall semester.
“CAN THEY MAKE ME LEAVE?”
A conversation between the student and his or her dean often plays the biggest role in influencing the student’s decision to take a leave.
Prior to this type of conversation, Pacelli noted that she looks at the student’s academic performance—which includes class attendance (a red flag when a student misses three weeks of classes), completion of work and any additional comments from faculty. She also looks at his or her conduct—whether the student has been in any disciplinary trouble with the College.
However, considering the case-by-case nature of each student’s mental or physical health problems, the dean’s advisal “should have the recommendation of the [medical] provider,” according to Pacelli. “They always do.”
A Bowdoin student’s medical provider includes Bowdoin Counseling, the Bowdoin Health Center or a medical professional unaffiliated with the College.
“I think sometimes our office gets a bad rap of—and an unfair one—that we’re looking to send everybody on med leave all the time. I don’t think that’s accurate,” Pacelli said.
Though the dean’s office may rely on a health care provider for this recommendation, the student’s health information is only shared with the student’s permission under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In the case of a concussion, the Health Center informs the student’s dean of how many days of brain rest the student requires so that the deans may share that information with the student’s professors.
Counseling or the Health Center can share a student’s health information with the student’s dean or parents only in the cases deemed “a significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals.” Such a threat, as outlined in the Handbook, would warrant an involuntary medical leave.
Many students under voluntary medical leaves, however, still feel confused as to whether the decision is their own.
“I really felt a lot of pressure from the administration. I remember scanning the Handbook with my dad, being like can they make me leave?” Goldsmith said.
Megan Retana ’19, who is currently on a medical leave, echoed Goldsmith.
“There was initially a lack of clarity in what they could offer me, what additional help they could give me and what the policies were,” said Retana in a phone interview with the Orient.
Following a hospitalization for mental health reasons in the spring of her first year, Retana agreed to take off the rest of the semester and this current fall semester per the evaluation of the Counseling Center and her dean. The final decision was negotiated in a phone call in June between Retana’s mother and Assistant Dean of First Year Students Khoa Khuong, according to Retana.
“My mom had been advocating for me to go back in the fall because we both thought I could do it and then they [said] no,” said Retana. “Counseling was concerned about my well-being while I had a different opinion on what that was or what would help me.”
While both Retana and her mother wanted her to return in the fall, Retana agreed to take the fall semester off because the deans told her they believed this was the only way Bowdoin’s Readmission Committee would allow her to come back to campus.
The readmission process requires a short application, in which the student must prove their readiness to re-enter life at the College. This requires documentation from the student’s health care provider. The committee—comprised of members of the dean’s office, Residential Life and Admissions and advised by the directors of Counseling and the Health Center—then determines whether the student is healthy enough to come back to campus.
According to Retana, the decision to leave felt involuntary though it is recorded as voluntary because she did, under this pressure, consent to the leave.
“[The problem] was more in terms of lack of transparency, or clarity, or organization on their part because...they didn’t [initially] tell me [in the spring] that I had to take [the fall] semester off,” Retana said. “Had they offered those things in the first place, I wouldn’t have been upset.”
She said although she ultimately appreciated her time off, she wished the process was clearer.
“I wanted to make my own decisions but at the same time I’m grateful to the school for stepping in because I’m so grateful for this semester off,” Retana said. “But I do wish there had been more consistency throughout the process.”
“EDUCATIONAL NOT THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITY”
The College views its role of “stepping in” as necessary in preventing a student’s health from impeding on the rest of his or her life at Bowdoin.
“Bowdoin is an educational community, not a therapeutic community,” said Foster. “So if somebody really needs the time to regain their health ... it’s oftentimes better to seek the care that you need in order to fully regain your health so you can be here and be successful.”
Director of Counseling Services Bernie Hershberger, whose office is independent of the dean’s, said it does not push students to leave against their will.
“If it’s better for the student to stay on campus then that’s going to be the first priority and that’s what we’re going to push for. It’s not that often that a student would want to go, and so we’re not going to push that unless it aligns with their deepest desire,” he said.
Uma Blanchard ’17, who has struggled with a concussion since the end of her sophomore year, was skeptical of Counseling’s relationship with the dean’s office because she had heard rumors that the two offices communicate with each other about students often.
“I began to see a counselor off campus—I felt safer seeing someone who wasn’t connected to the dean’s office and wasn’t feeding me the Bowdoin line, which I feel is pretty much always the same which is ‘you should go home’,” said Blanchard.
Many students said it was difficult to fight the College’s push to leave even when their own medical providers felt that going home was not the best solution.
Following a conversation with her first-year dean, Jacqueline Colao ’17 decided to take a gap year a day and half into her pre-orientation trip because of a persistent concussion she sustained in high school. Upon returning to campus and still feeling the effects of her concussion, Colao chose not to take any medical leaves. Instead, beginning her sophomore year, she decided on a reduced course load for four semesters.
“[Bowdoin is] very good about letting people take time off, but that’s the go-to solution,” said Colao.
“My neurologist [said] that it was better for me for my healing process to be at school taking two courses than it would be for me to take time off because you still need your brain to be working in a certain capacity. You can’t just sit around, that’s not good either,” Colao noted.
Getting approved to take two classes—which makes a student part-time—is not easy. However, students may petition the Recording Committee for a reduced course load. The student must submit a one-page statement—as well as supporting documentation from a medical professional, faculty member or Director of Accommodations Lisa Peterson—about why he or she requires this alteration.
The Recording Committee is made up of several professors and two students. Because there are no health professionals on it, the committee relies on a rating system from the Health Center to determine the severity of a student’s medical condition.
Professor of Government Allen Springer, who is the Chair of the Recording Committee for this academic year, explained, “The Health Center will provide a rating for people to tell us that a. There is a concern and b. How confident they are it’s a serious concern. Quite honestly we take those ratings very seriously and we’re not in a position to second-guess medical professionals about whether or not medical factors should be taken into account in making a decision.”
This rating is the only metric considered by the Recording Committee, and, in addition to reports from the Health Center, takes into account doctor’s notes from outside practitioners.
Blanchard’s petition to take two classes her junior spring—which was substantiated by letters from her counselor and her parents indicating Blanchard’s home doctors’ recommendation that she remain at school and take a reduced course load—was denied. The committee’s decisions are final and do not include any face-to-face interaction between the student and the committee.
“I was a little unclear why the Recording Committee ... was able to make what was a medical decision for me. It would not have been good for me to go home because I would not have been able to use my brain,” said Blanchard.
On the other hand, Colao’s request to take two classes—supported by letters from her neurologist, Hershberger and her dean—was accepted. However, still struggling with her concussion sophomore spring, Colao did not want to go through the process of petitioning again because her concussion made the process particularly exhausting for her.
Additionally, Colao felt the committee would not be amenable to recurring requests.
“I asked multiple times why you have to petition the Recording Committee to only take two classes,” Colao said. “I was never given a clear answer on that, I was just told that’s not a thing that Bowdoin does.”
Lohmann confirmed that Bowdoin does not allow students to continually take only two courses. While students may successfully petition to take two classes, this accommodation is restricted to temporary medical issues with a clearly defined recovery period.
“We don’t really do half-time status,” Lohmann said. “We’re a residential liberal arts college. We expect students to be fully engaged in living in the college.”
Pacelli shares this position. “This is supposed to be a full-time experience and a full course load is three or more credits,” she said. “If all you can do is two credits then maybe it’s better to think about med leave.”
Pacelli said that finances do not play a role in the Recording Committee’s decision of whether to allow a student to take two courses.
Further, taking two classes does not reduce the cost of tuition aid. However, if a student takes a medical leave in the middle of a semester, he or she is not reimbursed after the fifth week of school. The Student Aid Office only covers eight semesters of aid, though a student may appeal for a ninth semester of aid with the support of the Office of Student Affairs. Pacelli noted that “[the deans] can and do step up.”
Colao’s recovery period continued for the next three semesters; she took three classes during each one. Her sophomore spring proved to be especially demanding as she struggled to balance her academics with her recovery.
“The only way I was able to stay here [my sophomore spring] and take three classes was I was able to only do school and nothing else,” Colao said. “So I ate meals by myself because talking to people at meals would bring up my symptoms ... I would nap every day for a couple hours. I never went out. I barely talked to people. Literally all I did was schoolwork.”
“I think it would be helpful to delve into more solutions about how we can get people to stay at Bowdoin and be successful while still dealing with whatever issue that caused them to think about taking time off,” Colao said.
Blanchard echoed this sentiment.
“I felt very strongly last semester that there is this notion that if you’re not totally healthy then you shouldn’t be here,” Blanchard said. “For the first time I thought ‘wow Bowdoin doesn’t want me to be here right now, because I am not perfect.’ ... I think that’s definitely a common experience."
Inside the medical leave decision
Eight students share their experiences with mental health and the administration
Without anonymity, interest in Yik Yak wanes
A source of amusement and controversy alike in the past three academic years, the app Yik Yak has been neither since classes began this fall. In August, Yik Yak announced an overhaul, eliminating much of the anonymity that characterized the earlier versions of the app.
Yik Yak was originally launched in the fall of 2013 by Tyler Droll, Douglas Warstler—who has since been ousted from the company and settled out of court—and Brooks Buffington, all of whom attended Furman University in South Carolina together.
At Bowdoin, the app caused stir during the winter of this past year and elicited a response from President Clayton Rose in a campus-wide email on two separate occasions.
This year, the app’s update has coincided with a dramatic decline in use on Bowdoin’s campus. Yik Yak users (or “Yakkers”) now have to create a personal handle to post on the app which allows users to chat privately with one another. The changes also included an overhaul of the interface design.
David Berlin ’19 believes that these changes have caused the considerable decline in popularity amongst Bowdoin students.
“I think the formatting of the updated app is much more confusing,” he said. “[The username] kind of defeats the purpose of being anonymous.”
While the app provided some harmless levity at points last year, it gained notoriety because of the disagreements it hosted, many of which devolved into ad hominem attacks. In the aftermath of the “gangster” party, Rose criticized students’ use of the app.
“In situations like this, there is no place for the cesspool that is created by Yik Yak and other forms of anonymous postings,” he wrote in his email to campus.
He addressed the campus again in February after the “tequila” party, writing: “Yik Yak is a place for misinformation and for ignorant and hurtful comments that stereotype, marginalize, and threaten. And it is also where students are unfairly criticized for acts they did not commit.”
Due to the app’s contentious nature, some students are grateful that Yik Yak is no longer rife with posts. Emilie Montgomery ’18, who deleted the app after her first year, was frustrated by the ways in which it could become an outlet for ignorance.
“Last year, it purely became a place where people could make sexist comments, racist comments or just offensive jokes without having to face any backlash, and I just don’t think that’s something that this campus is really about,” she said. “I think that it’s better to just not use it at all than to have people say stupid things on it.”
Emma Newbery ’19 agreed.
“I just think it really encourages cowardice on campus and people are able to say a lot of stuff because they don’t have to stand behind their opinions,” she said. “So I think it’s a stupid application and no one should use it.”
Whether the app will make a comeback at Bowdoin is still unknown, but for now the campus appears to have lost an outlet for divisive discourse and squirrel jokes alike.
Baseball misses playoffs for third straight season
Despite fighting its way to a 20-13 record with a slate of weekend games left before the end of the season, the Bowdoin baseball team could not overcome its NESCAC East foes and missed the playoffs.
The Polar Bears came out of the gate strong during their annual trip to Florida in March, winning their first seven games and heading back north with an 8-3 record. Things began to unravel from there, however. In their first NESCAC matchup against Trinity, the Polar Bears gave up three unearned runs in the first inning and lost to the Bantams 4-3 despite holding Trinity to only two hits.
For shortstop Sean Mullaney ’17, this loss was a negative turning point in the team’s season. “It’s a game we should have won,” said Mullaney. “Defensively, we didn’t make all of the plays. We blew that game, and since then, we’ve struggled in the NESCAC weekend series.”
Bowdoin lost the next day 4-0 but finished out the series with a 5-2 win in Hartford. This became a pattern for the Polar Bears, as they took one of three games in all four NESCAC weekend matchups they played. While Bates and Colby went 12-20 and 11-22 respectively, Bowdoin could not muster a series win against either team.
One bright spot for the team appeared against the top of the conference. Playing within earshot of Waka Flocka Flame and Baauer during Ivies last Saturday, Bowdoin dropped the first game of its doubleheader against Tufts 16-0. The Polar Bears nevertheless managed to rebound in the second game, taking it 5-2 behind seven strong innings from senior Michael Staes.
The Polar Bears’ win, which came during their final game of conference play for the season, spoiled the Jumbos’ perfect NESCAC East record and dropped them to 25-6 (10-1). The Jumbos finished out their NESCAC season with a win against Bates in a rescheduled game, so the Bowdoin loss remains their lone blemish in conference play.
In their final game against Tufts, the Polar Bears managed to solve offensive woes that plagued them throughout the season in conference play. While Mullaney noted that their pitching and defensive play generally kept them in games, he believes that the offense held back the team at points.
Bowdoin worked its way to a .263 team batting average and a .342 on-base percentage.
However, there was a significant gap in runs scored between conference play and non-conference play. During non-conference play, the Polar Bears exploded for 6.05 runs per game. The numbers tell a different story when they were playing against the tough competition of the NESCAC East, though. Bowdoin scored 2.83 runs per game while allowing 5.92.
“It’s just been frustrating because we have a really good overall record, and we couldn’t put it together the weekends that we needed to,” Mullaney said. “As coach would always say, we were always one pitch short or one hit short.”
While the season may have not ended on the note the team hoped after its impressive Florida trip, there is hope for the future. Due to injuries, most notably to catcher and captain Chris Nadeau ’16, and the graduation of some big contributors in 2015, first years and sophomores were forced into important roles on the team. Brandon Lopez ’19 shined on both sides of the ball, hitting .282 and pitching a 4.21 ERA. Luke Cappellano ’19 smacked the second most RBIs on the team at 16, and outfielder Joe Gentile ’18 led the team in batting average at .379.
With all of this talent coming up the ranks, the team looks to improve in conference play and make a deep run into the playoffs in the 2017 season.
Video: Race in College Houses
Ladd hosts a panel on "Why do the College Houses feel so white?"
Last night Ladd House hosted a panel and small-group discussion entitled, “Why do the College Houses Feel so White?” Topics of discussion ranged from how music and dancing at College House parties affect the whiteness of the spaces to what it feels like as a student of color applying to a house.
Organized by President of Reed House Diana Furukawa ’18 and Programming Director of Reed House Victoria Lowrie ’18, the panel was moderated by Assistant Director of Residential Life Mariana Centeno and featured Hayley Nicholas ’17, Sarah Lim ’18, Hannah Cooke ’18, Justin Weathers ’18, Osakhare Omoregie ’18, Maya Reyes ’16 and Paola Maymi ’18. The event was attended by about 40 students.
While each panelist had different experiences and understandings of why and how College Houses are predominantly white spaces, the majority of the panel agreed the music and dancing culture at College Houses reinforce the feeling of whiteness that pervades the houses.
Reyes suggested songs that are the main culprits for her, particularly “Mr. Brightside” and “Stacy’s Mom.”
“There’s no denying ‘Stacy’s Mom’ is a white, suburban song,” she said. “It’s a fun song, but now as a senior every time I hear that song I think ‘that wasn’t my life experience.’ So just knowing now that every time it plays in a College House it’s just a reminder that this is the culture I’m in, and I can’t forget that.”
Centeno noted that statistically, the racial composition of College Houses is about the same as the rest of the college. Maymi spoke to this point.
“For me the College House system hasn’t felt that white because I went to middle school and high school in Tampa, Florida at a school that was 95 percent white, which felt much whiter than Bowdoin,” she said.
Maymi added that she felt the most uncomfortable with her race when applying to a College House as part of a block.
“Maybe this wasn’t my friends’ intention[s], but I felt like I was always being singled out as someone who would make the block better because I’m Puerto Rican,” she said. “And that felt uncomfortable to me because I didn’t want to be living with people who saw me as just someone that would help them get in [to a house].”
However, in light of increased attention being paid to diversity on campus, the application process seems to be changing. Centeno has seen a shift in the focus of programming suggestions for College Houses.
“A lot of the programs [first years are] bringing up are programs speaking about diversity,” she said. “That’s a trend that I haven’t seen before in reading applications.”
These programs—along with events like last night’s panel—could help usher in a shift in the role College Houses serve on campus.
New roommates? Squirrels take the Helm
Beset by three separate squirrel related incidents since winter break, Helmreich House members have found an unlikely hero in Julianna Burke ’18.
Nickie Mitch ’18, Chris Brown ’18 and Luke Cleary ’18, have each found squirrels in their rooms this semester. These creatures, which are a little bit furrier than other squirrels seen around campus, have been deemed flying squirrels by house residents after some “sleuthing via Google Images,” according to Burke.
In fact, the actual appearance of the flying squirrels has been a long time coming. Since the beginning of the year, house members have been hearing noises in the walls, especially on the third floor of Helm. The emergence of the squirrels finally proves that Helm members were not simply overtaken by paranoia and group-think.
For this reason, Burke says, “Seeing the squirrels this semester was weirdly validating.”Interestingly enough, though, two of the three squirrels have been found in the basement. Cleary found a squirrel in his lower-level room after only having heard noises in the walls once during all of first semester. The acting theory from members of the house is that as the weather has gotten colder, the squirrels have both moved down in the house and have been keener to sneak inside in search of warmth. This development has not thrilled every member of the house.
Cleary, in describing his encounter with the squirrel in his room, explains, “I got back to my room and turned the light on and I look on my bedside table and I saw a squirrel looking right back at me… I got kind of freaked out.”
Burke tells a similar story about Cleary’s encounter with the squirrel. “One night I was just in my room reading at 10:30 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. when I heard this bloodcurdling scream. I ran downstairs and there was Luke Cleary [and the squirrel]... The squirrel had by that point moved to his bookshelf but it was really scared and really cute and it wasn’t moving. So I just got a Tupperware from the kitchen and scooped it up and brought it outside.”
Burke is a big fan of the squirrels, describing them multiple times as “really cute.” She has thus been able to come to the aid of house members like Cleary (with the help of some Tupperware, of course). Burke was also able to catch the squirrel in Brown’s room with the same Tupperware, which has now been reserved for squirrel catching.
Despite her enthusiasm about the squirrels, Burke readily admits, “It’s kind of a thrill to see them in someone else’s room, but if I was in my bed and there was a squirrel I might be a little more rattled… Some people seem to be a little spooked.”
Although Burke’s efforts have certainly been heroic, the Tupperware may be able to be retired, at least for the time being.
“An exterminator came last Wednesday, and Residential Life offices have emailed me and a couple other residents in the house to make sure the issue has been taken care of,” House Proctor Lillian Eckstein ’18 said. “We’ve also called security a couple times... I don’t really hear them running around anymore, so maybe they’re there, maybe they aren’t.”
Nevertheless, squirrels in Helm do not seem to be a new issue and may very well be back with a vengeance despite the have-a-heart traps that the exterminator used to deal with the problem. Helm house alumni Olivia Atwood ’17 and Brooke Goddard ’17 heard or saw squirrels during their sophomore year in the house.
While some house members were originally freaked out by the issue, Eckstein believes the squirrels are actually a good advertising opportunity for Helm, and said that house members have been batting around the idea of hosting a “squirrel party” as their next campus-wide event.
Whether the squirrels are funny or freaky is up for debate, but for all of those first years out there considering applying to Helmreich House, be ready for a furry roommate.
Men’s basketball hopes to compete in NESCAC
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break, the men’s basketball team blew a second half lead to the University of New England, a team they have not lost to in the last decade, but rebounded by beating No. 10 Babson on Sunday. Two days later, the Polar Bears took down the University of Southern Maine on the road to bring their record to 3-2.
After graduating starting point guard Bryan Hurley ’15 and seven-foot center John Swords ’15, the team is looking for players to step up in both the backcourt and frontcourt. With the loss of Swords in the middle, Head Coach Tim Gilbride has made the tactical decision to try to get out on the break more and get the ball in the hands of talented scorer and preseason First Team All-American Lucas Hausman ’16 as much as possible. The strategy seems to be working for Hausman; he is averaging 29.4 points per game (PPG) through five games and has scored over a third of the team’s points. However, Gilbride notes that simply delivering the ball to Hausman and hoping that he accounts for all of the team’s offense is not a sustainable strategy.
“What we’ve figured out is we can’t just let [Hausman] take the ball and try to score and take over on his own,” said Gilbride. “We need to do that by moving the ball and controlling the flow of the game.”
Luckily for the Polar Bears, many of their first year players have stepped in and contributed immediately. Jack Simonds ’19 is the team’s second leading scorer with 16.8 PPG. In addition, point guard Tim Ahn ’19 and forward Hugh O’Neil ’19 have each averaged over 15 minutes per game played, indicating that they’ll likely be important components of Gilbride’s rotation for the entire season.
The team’s youth may have contributed to its inconsistent results thus far; the Polar Bears are still learning to play together, and the five first years on the team are still picking up the system. However, they may be getting through early growing pains. After beating Babson 88-84 in overtime on November 29, Bowdoin went on the road and delivered a convincing 81-55 victory at the University of Southern Maine on Tuesday.
“I think now we’ve started to play really well as a team, and I think that’s going to keep on going,” said Simonds.
The Polar Bears clearly are on the same page in terms of their goals this year. Both Hausman and Simonds have the same ambitious goal: to host and win a NESCAC tournament game, finish in the top half of the NESCAC and hopefully make a run in the NCAA tournament.
Bowdoin has already proven that it can play with anyone in the country, but the team will have to keep up that level of concentration in all of its NESCAC games. According to Hausman, the conference looks to have a startling degree of parity this year.
“Everyone can really play. There are no pushovers in the NESCAC this year,” Hausman said. “Conn. College and Hamilton were traditionally at the bottom of the league, but they got better this year and have some good freshmen. I think we have the capability to beat anybody, but if we don’t come ready to play, we have the capability to lose to most teams, too.”
Bowdoin’s biggest task seems to be becoming more consistent. Simonds, Gilbride and Hausman all noted that Babson’s high national ranking helped the team focus, but against UNE, a team they should have beaten handily, they let the game slip away.
Bowdoin’s captains, Hausman, Matt Palecki ’16 and Jake Donnelly ’16, are the last significant contributors left from a squad that made the NCAA tournament just two seasons ago. This is clearly a team in transition, and it remains to be seen if they will be able to blend strong senior leadership with a talented but unproven first year class. If they can, though, the Polar Bears will undoubtedly be a team to be feared this season.
Men’s soccer falls in heartbreaker at MIT
When MIT’s Sean Bingham headed a cross past Bowdoin goalkeeper Stevie Van Siclen ‘18 in the 99th minute, Bowdoin Men’s Soccer’s season came to a close in the second round of the NCAA tournament. But after capturing their second NESCAC championship in two years, everyone associated with the program agrees: the season was a resounding success.Anchored by senior defenders Nabil Odulate ’16 (who was named the NESCAC player of the year) and Kiefer Solarte ’16, the team gave up only a single goal in the five postseason games they played: Bingham’s game winner.
Bowdoin forged its identity as a defensive team early in the season—Odulate and Coach Scott Wiercinski agreed that the back line was staunch from September onwards. However, it took the team a little bit longer to get the attack going. Wiercinski noted that the team prioritized getting the ball into the back of the net in practice, and saw a clear moment when their efforts came together.
“In the second half against Babson [on October 12th] we came out with a ton of energy and a really strong mentality. We scored four goals, and in some ways we didn’t really slow down from a performance standpoint until the season was over.” said Wiercinski.
Odulate pointed to another comeback victory, a 2-1 win against Connecticut College on October 24, saying “our heads didn’t drop at all when they scored the goal, we just ramped up our intensity, ramped up the pressure on them, and ended up getting the come from behind win. I think that really set the stage for what we were able to go on to do in the playoffs.”
No matter the date of the team’s turnaround, the Polar Bears clearly came together as a group and were able to use their collective energy to pull off multiple upsets in the NESCAC tournament and capture the title.
Bowdoin travelled to MIT for the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. On both Saturday November 14th, the date of the team’s first round matchup against Plattsburgh State, and the next day against MIT, the wind was gusting in Boston. In the first half against Plattsburgh, Bowdoin was playing against the wind, but managed to keep the Cardinals out of the back of the net during the first 45 minutes. In the second half, they attacked with the wind at their back.
According to Odulate, “the last 10-15 minutes of that game was really just one-way traffic.” Bowdoin finally broke through with a header from Moctar Niang ’19 off of a ball into the 18-yard box from Hunter Miller ’16 in the 90th minute, sealing a 1-0 victory for the Polar Bears. Wiercinski noted Moctar’s ability in the air, and the team hopes he will anchor an attacking group that will have to be more proficient on a regular basis next season if the Polar Bears hope to repeat once again as NESCAC champions.
Men’s soccer upends Tufts to keep season alive
Having only allowed in seven goals all season, the men’s soccer team was again anchored by its defense in its NESCAC Championship quarterfinal game last weekend.
“We really haven’t been letting in goals,” said defender Kiefer Solarte ’16.
So, when senior defender Nabil Odulate connected on a close-range shot from the left side in the twenty-fifth minute of Polar Bears’ contest against Tufts in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Championship, the team was confident Odulate had propelled them into the semifinals.
The confidence was well-placed: Odulate’s goal was the only of the match, and sixth-seeded Bowdoin upset third-seeded Tufts 1-0 on in Boston last Saturday to advance to a semifinal matchup against Connecticut College tomorrow.
The Tufts matchup, which was played on a muddy field after heavy rain in days prior, was actually the second of the week between the two teams; the first, played on Wednesday, October 28, ended in a 0-0 draw. Having gotten to know each other already, both teams arrived on Saturday playing with an intensity unseen in the Wednesday matchup.
Tufts came out of the game swinging, and had a good chance at the top of the box during the second minute of play. In fact, Tufts outshot Bowdoin 13-2 on the day, with six shots on goal for the Jumbos and two for the Polar Bears.
Tufts put pressure on Bowdoin’s back line throughout the contest, but Bowdoin head coach Scott Wiercinski believes that Tufts actually had fewer quality chances on Saturday than on Wednesday.
“I thought they had a little bit more possession in the game on Saturday but they didn’t create as many clear cut, open scoring chances as a result,” he said. “That’s a product of our back line defending very well and then our midfield getting back.”
Although stakes were raised for Saturday’s game, Wiercinski opted to stay with the personnel and tactics that got his team to the postseason. He was rewarded with strong defending and two key saves from goalkeeper Stevie Van Siclen ’18 after star Tufts midfielder Nathan Majumder was ejected when he earned his second yellow card early in the second half. Despite playing with only 10 men on the field from that point forward, Tufts kept up its pressure on the Bowdoin.
“Even though they had a man down you might not have noticed it, because they were playing with such aggression and emotion to get back into the game,” said Wiercinski.
The Polar Bears’ intensity in preventing the late charge by Tufts should serve them well when they take on Conn. College at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Championship host site of Middlebury. The team already faced Conn. this season, rallying from a goal behind to win 2-1 on October 24. The comeback was one of the high points of the regular season for Bowdoin.
“Despite going a goal down, we really came out with a huge amount of intensity and energy and continued to dominate the game and kept applying pressure,” said Odulate.
While Wiercinski believes that Conn. College is not as well-balanced as Tufts, he also said that the Camels’ front end is more mobile and dynamic. Senior Matthew Bitchell and the first-year duo of Chris Lockwood and Mark Leon lead the charge the Conn. up front, and they’re supported by midfielders Pat Devlin and Colin Patch.
The matchup sets up a strong attack versus a staunch defense, and the winner will get the chance to play for the NESCAC title on Sunday against the winner of first-seeded Middlebury versus eighth-seeded Wesleyan. For Bowdoin, the weekend is an opportunity to bring home the NESCAC title as a six seed for the second straight season.
“Coming off a NESCAC tourney win from last year, the expectation has always been looming over us,” said Solarte. “That being said, I think we were underdogs throughout that whole tournament, and for the good part of this season. I would say that we’ve learned to deal with those expectations from being the champions last year, and we’ve learned to deal with them better throughout the season.”
Inauguration: Bowdoin prepared to inaugurate 15th president, celebrate contemporary role of the liberal arts
The last presidential inauguration held at Bowdoin occurred just after the new millennium. The 9/11 attacks had just occurred. Facebook, Twitter and MySpace were yet to be invented. Now, 14 years later, Bowdoin is ready to host another and officially welcome President Clayton Rose as the College’s 15th president.
According to Rick Ganong, senior vice president for development and alumni relations and the chair of Bowdoin’s Inauguration Committee, Bowdoin will be “the place to be in the state of Maine” on the weekend of October 16 for Rose’s inauguration.
The ceremony will include significant pomp and circumstance. Homecoming and the Board of Trustees’ fall meeting will also take place during that weekend.
The festivities will kick off on Thursday night with a performance from student a cappella groups in Pickard Theater. On Friday morning, there will be tours of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and the Edwards Center for Art and Dance.
The Inaugural Symposium’s two panels will take place Friday afternoon in Pickard Theater, starting with a keynote by Hanna Holborn Gray, president emerita of University of Chicago and one of Rose’s mentors. Jennifer Scanlon, interim dean for academic affairs, will moderate the first panel of alumni and academics entitled “Yes, It Still Matters: Why and How We Teach the Liberal Arts.” The second panel, “Making a Living and Making a Life: The Liberal Arts in Commerce and Citizenship,” will consist entirely of alumni: Kenneth Chenault ’73 H’96, Ruthie Davis ’84, Shelley Hearne ’83 and George Mitchell ’54 H’83 will speak. Andy Serwer ’81, journalist and editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance will moderate the panel. The symposium will be streamed live online.
Friday evening, the indie-rock band Guster will perform in Morrell Gym.
Saturday morning the moment will be President Rose’s. A procession will lead down to Farley Field House, where Rose will officially become Bowdoin’s 15th president.
While this is Rose’s weekend, he has been minimally involved in the planning process. The Inauguration Committee, which consists of 14 members, has been planning the event. The committee is made up of faculty, staff, students and trustees of the college.
Scanlon is a member of the committee. According to her, Rose was interested in examining the concept of a liberal arts education throughout the weekend.
“It has provided us with a really exciting opportunity to really think carefully and invite people to talk about the role of the liberal arts,” said Scanlon. She recognizes that there are currently “a lot of demands for more pre-professional education.”
She hopes that the discussion will continue in the community after the panel.
“As a member of the Inauguration Committee, certainly we looked at the past several inaugurations at Bowdoin as well as inaugurations at other places,” said Scanlon.
The ceremonial aspects of the event will be similar to those of the past and at other schools; however, the symposium keeps the Inauguration unique to Bowdoin.
“I’ve had the good fortune to work with a great committee…They’ve had terrific ideas, they’ve executed well and they’ve followed through,” said Ganong. “We got lucky to have such a great lineup for the symposium, and such a good solid list of those speaking at the ceremony, and we’re looking forward to the music.”
With the Inauguration still two weeks away, student reaction has been more mixed. One email has been sent to the student body presenting an opportunity to register for the Inauguration itself. According to Ganong, 87 students are currently registered. It is expected, however, that this number will rise in the coming week.
“I RSVP’d to the Inauguration because I feel like it is a big day for the College,” said Lucy Ryan ’19, who registered upon receiving the initial email.
Aziza Janmohamed ’19 was equally interested but has not yet registered.
“It seems really exciting and is a special event so I will be there,” Janmohamed said.
Yet other students are less interested in the upcoming inauguration.
“I got one email and I just read through the thing…I just kind of assumed it was not something that I would want to go to,” said Sophia Ardell ’17.
Ganong declined to comment about the cost of the event, which includes Inauguration, Homecoming and Trustees’ Weekend, but noted that “this only happens once every 10, 15, 20 years,” and thus will be celebrated accordingly.
In final act, President Mills raises $60 million for financial aid
Alumni giving participation rate reaches 61.6%, a new high
After 14 years in office, President Mills helped raise $60 million in his final year at the College through his Access, Opportunity and Innovation (AOI) initiative. The initiative, which was announced at Bowdoin’s annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on May 8, 2014, focused on raising money for the Coastal Studies Center, Digital and Computational Studies and most prominently, need-based financial aid.
In his speech, President Mills set a fundraising goal of $100 million for the initiative. While that goal was not reached, President Mills raised $60 million in his last year in office, directed specifically towards AOI, according to Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Rick Ganong ’86. This figure does not include alumni donations to the Annual Fund, which attained a participation rate of 61.6 percent last year, dually the highest in Bowdoin history and the first time the number has exceeded 60 percent. The participation rate has climbed by 7.4 percentage points since 2010, when 54 percent of alumni donated.
Financial aid expansion has long been a top priority for Mills. Mills himself received financial aid as a student at the College, and in 2008, under his direction, Bowdoin announced the elimination of all student loans, replacing them with grants.
President Mills told the Orient in April of 2015, “If you want to think about the common good—the idea that you are creating opportunity for a student who wouldn’t have it otherwise—is hugely important to me.”
The combination of Mills’ commitment to keeping Bowdoin affordable and the ever-rising costs of a Bowdoin education provided the impetus for the launch of AOI, Mills’ largest initiative during his last year in office. The price of the average grant given by Bowdoin has risen steadily in the past few years, and is now just under $40,000 for the Class of 2019, according to Ganong. Meanwhile, the percentage of students receiving aid has hovered around 45 percent for the last five years, leading to an uptick in money needed to continue the policy of need-blind admissions.
Gifts to the fund came from numerous and diverse sources, with multiple seven-figure pledges, but there was one common thread: many gave in honor of President Mills and his wife, Karen.
“I think the most touching gift was the faculty raised over $100,000 for the Barry and Karen Mills scholarship fund. We have a small faculty and you don’t always see faculty in higher-ed support a president like that. He was special,” Ganong said.
Of Bowdoin’s endowment, which numbers $1.4 billion, around $600 million is dedicated to financial aid. Bowdoin’s draw on the endowment is five percent every year, so in practice, the college has around $30 million to spend on financial aid every year directly from the endowment. In recent years, this number has been supplemented by other fundraising – this academic year, the college is spending about $34 million on aid.
President Mills was able to raise $60 million from AOI, money that moves into the financial aid portion of the endowment, but it is important to note that a significant share of that money was pledged, not directly given. This is common practice in large-scale fundraising, and simply means that the money is spread over multiple years, and will be paid as such.
While this $60 million is certainly a boon for the college’s financial aid program, Bowdoin is far from done raising money to continue to make education affordable. President Rose will be tasked with continuing to fundraise on Bowdoin’s behalf, and Ganong says the College plans to launch a large-scale campaign in the next few years.
The development office and the President are not just raising money for the sake of the endowment. They hope to build towards an increasingly diverse and global Bowdoin.“Look at this: represented countries: Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Turkey, Vietnam,” said Ganong, “We want the best, smartest, nicest, more engaging, active kid from Turkey or Rwanda to come to Bowdoin and just light up our campus. And if she can’t afford it, I work with people in this building to make sure we have the funds in place so she can.”