Intergroup Dialogue accepts half of applicants for spring
Sixteen students—only half of those who applied—were accepted for Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) for the spring semester. The program consists of seven two-hour sessions during which students discuss issues surrounding race and identity.
Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion Leana Amáez said that the reasoning behind not accepting all applicants hinges on a need for small groups, which are more conducive to having in-depth conversations.
“Not every student jumps on public speaking, and so for students that really hang back and wait it gets harder and harder to find your way into the dialogue if there are too many people in the room,” she said.
When IGD began in 2014, only one group of students participated in the program. Since two groups of students participated during the fall semester, this academic year will see three groups of students go through the program. Amáez said that an increase in the number of faculty, staff and administrators trained to lead these conversations allows the College to run more groups.
At the end of the program, participants have the chance to decide if they want to undertake another four-hour training session and become certified to facilitate conversations for other groups on campus, such as athletic teams or College House members.
Esther Nunoo ’17 took part in IGD during the fall of 2014, and remembers the program as a safe and positive environment to have uncomfortable conversations.
“I think what I appreciated about it the most was that before they sent us out to facilitate discussions, it made me uncomfortable on many different levels, which is something that I didn’t expect to happen to the extent that it did, because I like having hard conversations. So I like that it put us through that,” Nunoo said.
However, Nunoo believes that not all students who go through the program should end up as facilitators, a sentiment that Dean Amáez echoed.
“I think that the expectation seemed to be that they had to facilitate, and I don’t want students to sign up just because they really like to be facilitators and leaders,” Amáez said. “I want some students who really do, and I want some students to sign up just because they want to be part of a seven-week dialogue on race.”
Looking to the future, Amáez hopes to increase the number of conversations led by students who have completed IGD. Although the program has had no problems finding applicants, she believes that more can be done to encourage student groups to take advantage of trained facilitators in single-session workshops.
“Part of that is thinking about how we do some outreach to groups to let them know that these workshops are available and that this is what you do to sign up for a workshop and this what it would look like,” she said.
She also sees the role of IGD as something that might change going forward and believes the program’s format can be used to help students have meaningful conversations focused on issues other than race and identity.
“I think there’s a lot of potential to use [the IGD] model for other things,” she said. “We consistently hear from students that we don’t talk enough about class.”
Students rally against executive orders, cabinet nominees
In recent days, Bowdoin students attended protests and organized campus groups to fight against actions taken by the Trump administration, including the president’s executive orders on immigration, which halted travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and limited refugees.
Last Friday, a group of students held the first meeting of Indivisible Bowdoin, an organization based on the Indivisible Guide, a manual written by former Congressional staffers which details how individuals can effectively pressure their senators and representatives to take action.
“There [are] a lot of politically active people on campus. We can put that to good use,” said Dylan Devenyi ’17, one of the group’s founders.
Devenyi and the other group leaders—Olivia Erickson ’18, Liam Gunn ’17, Chamblee Shufflebarger ’18 and Matthew Jacobson ’17—reached out to politically minded groups on campus, hoping to channel students’ enthusiasm and anger into direct political action. The group’s plans include weekly meetings, a Facebook group and email newsletters about contacting representatives regarding various issues.
“Hopefully [we] keep continually reminding our senators and representatives that we are paying attention to what they are doing,” said Erickson.
She cited Maine Senator Susan Collins’ decision to vote against Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, as evidence that constituents’ opinions and efforts can shape how their representatives vote.
The group plans to meet at noon on Fridays. As of press time, their Facebook group has 145 members.
Students have also been organizing to attend protests away from Bowdoin. On Sunday, over 30 students traveled to the Portland International Jetport to protest Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The protest mirrored similar actions at other airports across the country. Protesters gathered in the Jetport’s baggage claim area, many carrying signs bearing political statements supporting refugees and immigrants.
Many of the students who attended found out about the event at short notice.
“I have a car here, so I went, gassed up, found some people in the [Coles] Tower lobby, filled up my car and we went down,” said Jack Mitchell ’17.
Trump’s immigration ban hit close to home for Ana Timoney-Gomez ’18, herself the daughter of two immigrants.
“The idea that the United States is a nation of immigrants has always been said to me and been of importance,” she said. “Seeing this has been very disheartening and disappointing.”
Mitchell agreed that the executive order was not American in spirit and was ultimately rooted in bigotry. He believed that the implementation of this policy called for more involved action than usual.
“I felt strongly that I needed to stand up in a way more than just calling my senators, which I already have been doing, and posting angry things on the internet,” Mitchell said.
Diane Russell, a former member of the Maine House of Representatives, led the jetport protest. Several immigrant and refugee residents of Maine also spoke, as did the mayors of Portland and South Portland.
Students found the speeches by immigrants to be particularly powerful. Mitchell recalled hearing the story of one Somali refugee who described his arrival and warm welcome to the Portland community.
“He was talking about what a beautiful thing it is how America accepts immigrants and what a storied part of our history it is,” he said.
Many students attended another rally against the immigration executive orders at City Hall in Portland on Wednesday evening.
To help students with transportation to protests, Victoria Pitaktong ’17 started Bowdoin Protest Rides, a Facebook group in which students can share information and find transportation. As of press time, the group has 208 members.
Pitaktong herself didn’t attend the Portland protests. She highlighted that student activism does not have to involve leaving campus.
“Right now there’s a disconnect between national concerns and campus. I see a lot of people are very encouraged to go to protests in Portland and all these things, which is great,” she said. “At the same time, I think people don’t realize that those threats actually apply to students on campus. There are students on campus who are actually distraught by these bans … You don’t have to go all the way to Portland to show your support.”
Pitaktong noted that protesting—especially off campus—can be time consuming and exhausting, particularly in the lives of already-busy Bowdoin students.
“Sometimes it takes a toll on my mental health, and my physical health. But when you think of how much your friends are trying to do this, you have to be there,” she said.
New committee aims to educate faculty, students on disability
In order to better address disability on campus, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Student Advisory Board was established at the beginning of this semester. Under the leadership of Director of Accommodations Lisa Peterson, seven students are striving to educate Bowdoin on accessibility and bridge the gap between faculty and students on disability and accommodations.
“I think that sometimes in higher ed settings there can be a tendency to be doing for and not with students,” said Peterson. “So I thought this was a great opportunity to have students be leading the charge.”
One of the ways the Board hopes to achieve its goals is by appointing professor liaisons to each department. These professor liaisons would undergo a training session with Peterson and student members of the Board on how to help other professors in their department handle accommodation requests. That way, when a student asks for accommodations, the professor has a colleague that can walk them through the process of providing help to students with disabilities.
A major part of Peterson’s current position as director of accommodations involves ensuring there is a clear process for students to request accommodations and checking in on such accommodations.
Peterson also hopes to address how members of the Bowdoin community think about disability and accommodations on campus.
“This student advisory board was a way for me to make sure I’m having the widest reach possible and able to have a lot of talented voices in the conversation about campus climate,” Peterson said.
Peterson hopes to promote what is called the social model of disability, which holds that disability is caused by the ways society functions and not by individual impairments of disabled people.
“The social model is about thinking through what the things in our environment are that we haven’t thought about in a critical way, or might haven’t thought about in a critical way, that could be presenting barriers for students,” she said.
Zoe Borenstein ’18, a leader on the Board, said that professors are often unsure how to handle students’ accommodations requests and go directly to Peterson. She believes that having a liaison for each department will improve the accommodations request process.
“Lisa [Peterson] has so much stuff to do and so many roles, and we think that it would be so much easier for [professors] to have someone in their department to help,” she said.
Borenstein said that the Board aims to organize and focus the work being done by the various separate groups advocating for recognition of students with disabilities on campus. She pointed out that just a few years ago, there was relatively little discussion of these issues on campus.
“Now we have all this stuff happening, and we’re starting to realize that we have to kind of sort things out a little bit more because there aren’t really clear definitions of what particular groups are doing differently from the others,” she said.
She added that student organizations focused on issues of disability have largely emphasized outreach to other students. She hopes that the Student Advisory Board will be more successful in bringing administrators and faculty into the conversation.
News in brief: Students fundraise for Haiti hurricane relief
Over the past week, Bowdoin students have helped raise hundreds of dollars for disaster relief in Haiti. Fundraising efforts are continuing for the Caribbean island nation, which was struck by Hurricane Matthew on October 4.
“We’ve been really surprised in how much we’ve been able to raise,” said Reyada Atanasio ’17, who is one of the students leading the fundraising campaign.
Students raised funds by selling breakfast goods including donuts and coffee outside of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library last Wednesday. They also sold baked goods after a talk last Thursday on healthcare in Haiti by Dan Fitzgerald, a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
“Even if [people] weren’t interested in buying donuts or coffee or anything, they still donated, and those extra donations really helped our effort,” Atanasio said.
The students involved plan on holding another bake sale outside of H-L and are considering the possibility of tabling in Smith Union.Atanasio became involved with the fundraising efforts after encouragement from Associate Director of the McKeen Center Andrew Lardie.
“[Lardie] contacted me because I had previously been in one of [Assistant Professor of Anthropology] Gregory Beckett’s classes, and Beckett is very involved with Haiti,” Atanasio said.
Beckett helped the students decide to give the donations to an organization called the Lambi Fund, a grassroots organization in Haiti.
“Especially after the earthquake in 2010, a lot of humanitarian organizations and NGOs went into Haiti to help with the relief effort,” said Atanasio. “But the disconnection between their efforts, the government’s efforts and what the Haitian people actually needed has kind of resulted in a lack of success.”
Sophie Binenfeld ’17, who has also been involved in fundraising efforts, also took Beckett’s course on contemporary Haiti. She said that international aid was one of the topics discussed in class.
“This was a nice opportunity for us to give money to a reputable organization that we know is going to do good things for Haitians,” she said.
The Latin American Student Organization (LASO) also launched its own fundraising drive. The group also plans to sell baked goods and launched a GoFundMe page to raise donations.
Men's tennis doubles pair victorious at national cup
Men’s tennis doubles team Kyle Wolfe ’18 and Jerry Jiang ’19 won their first match at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Oracle Cup on Thursday against the No. 3 seeded team from Saint Thomas. The duo is up against top teams from seven other regions across the country and will face a No. 2 seeded team from Trinity University in the semifinals today at 1 p.m. PST.
“They have good competition, the teams they’re going to be playing out there are all some of the best teams in the country, there are no walk-overs,” said Head Coach Conor Smith. “[But] we’re pretty biased, we feel like we have one of the strongest regions. If New England isn’t the strongest region, it’s gotta be in the top two or three.”
To earn their spot at the Oracle Cup, as well as All-American honors, Jiang and Wolfe won the doubles tournament at the ITA Regional Championships at Williams College on October 1. They entered the draw as the third seed and beat seventh seed Middlebury to win the tournament’s doubles finals for the first time in program history.
Other members of the team also performed well at the Regional Championship. In the singles draw, Grant Urken ’19 made it to the quarterfinals and Eliot Rozovsky ’20 made it to the round of 16.
All nine members of the team were able to compete in either the singles or doubles portion of the Regional Championships due to the team’s success last spring.
“Based on our standing last year we got more spots for the tournament so everyone was able to play,” Wolfe said. “As a team we did really well across the board.”
Due to the Oracle Cup, Wolfe and Jiang will miss the MIT Fall Invitational this weekend, the team’s last tournament of the fall season. The Invitational will be highly competitive, but Smith is focusing on the tournament as a chance for younger players to gain experience.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for our first years to play some tougher competition that they may not see otherwise,” Smith said.
As the NCAA DIII defending champions, the team has high hopes for this year. However, Smith says the team is not too worried about comparing itself to last year’s team and living up to that standard.
“I think we always want to focus on the things you can control and being the absolute best that this team can be,” Smith said.
Although it has had a promising showing so far, the team sees the fall as a time to focus less on strong results at competitions. Instead, the team aims to use this season to establish a positive team culture and identity, learn which players work well in doubles pairs and lay the groundwork for a successful spring season.
Smith, who has been with the team for the past six years and was named the ITA DIII Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year last year, sees team culture as a crucial to success.
“I look at our team and the culture that our guys have built the last couple of years in particular and get a real sense of confidence,” Smith said. “That’s gonna be a huge edge that we have over those other teams.”
Changes in dean's office continue with interim hire
Bowdoin’s administration will be seeing further changes this semester as Associate Dean for Upperclass Students Lesley Levy transitions to a part-time position, while Abbey Greene-Goldman ’99 will be assuming some of Levy’s roles on an interim basis, the College announced in an email on Monday.
With the hire of Greene-Goldman, four of Bowdoin’s deans will be interim appointments. In the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Assistant Dean for Upperclass Students Michael Pulju and Dean of First-Year Students Melissa Quinby both hold interim positions, after replacing Brandon Royce-Diop and Janet Lohmann, who both left the College in June.
Dean of Academic Affairs Jennifer Scanlon also holds an interim position.
Greene-Goldman will be assisting upperclass students with last names that begin with M-Z. She said she is excited to be returning to Bowdoin.
“I loved it as a student, it’s always going to be sort of my home away from home,” she said. “It feels really good to be back, and I’m excited to see how it’s changed as well.”Greene-Goldman earned a degree from Yale Law School before moving back to Maine 10 years ago.
She said that she foresees some challenges related to bias incidents and related issues that have spurred campus discourse in the past year, but that she looks forward to addressing them.
“I think one change from when I was a student that I see is that these things are all being talked about, which is a really great thing,” she said. “When I was here I feel like we were much more of a bubble than we are now.”
Levy will move into a new position as associate director of an overnight theater camp in Maine, where her duties will include recruiting and marketing for the camp as well as raising money for its scholarship foundation. She said that a major benefit of her new position will be her ability to work from home, allowing her to spend more time with her family.
“I really love working at the College, but it was time for a change, particularly in my personal life, and this opportunity made that possible,” she said.
She will continue part-time at the College, with most of her duties related to advising the Judicial Board. Over the next few weeks, she will be working closely with Greene-Goldman to ensure a smooth transition.
“I will help Dean Greene-Goldman transition into her role here and make sure it’s a seamless transition with the upperclass students I’ve been working with,” said Levy.
The College is in the middle of identifying candidates for Scanlon’s position and plans to conduct a national search and fill the Student Affairs positions on a permanent basis beginning in the summer of 2017.
Editor's note, September 23, 4:50pm. A previous version of this article stated that four of Bowdoin's eight deans were interim hires. There are seven deans in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs. The article has been updated to provide clarification.
Students and faculty make use of new resources in the Media Commons
To expand the use of technology in both classes and daily life, students and faculty are taking advantage of the new resources available in the Media Commons, located in the basement of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.
Opened in September, the Media Commons gives students and faculty alike access to resources from iMovie to a soundproof voice-over booth called the Whisper Room. There are two studios, one specializing in audio and the other in video, with additional resources like a green screen, microphones, headphones, lights for film and photography and a variety of software for video editing, sound recording, photography and 3D animation. The Media Commons also has screening rooms of various sizes, an electronic classroom and multiple Mac computers. Student lab assistants are available Sunday through Thursday in the afternoon and evening to help with software and equipment questions for both academic and personal projects.
At a panel on April 8, several professors discussed how they integrate video and other technologies available in the Media Commons into their classes. Some departments— such as visual arts and the Cinema Studies Program—make heavier use of the Media Commons and other technology resources than others, but many others include video production or viewing in some capacity.
Assistant Professor of Economics Stephen Morris is one of the professors on campus taking advantage of some of the possibilities the new technology brings to the classroom.
Morris uses a tool called Learning Glass, which allows him to take videos of himself giving short lectures on specific topics. He then uploads these videos to Blackboard where students can watch them on their own time.
“I found that often just lecturing and giving textbook examples just wasn’t helpful for everyone, so what I wanted to do was to be able to give people something that would be analogous to office hours whenever they needed it,” said Morris.
He added that he noticed students might sometimes search for context on particular subjects by consulting Wikipedia or other online resources.
“I wanted to provide that kind of context in a more rigorous fashion,” he said.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies Sarah Childress has also worked to integrate more technology into her classrooms. For Childress, technology has been important in allowing her students to immerse themselves in the activity of video production through creating short videos using the ideas they study in class.
Video has also helped Childress change who is responsible for communicating information in the classroom. Instead of assigning readings and lecturing, Childress has students read and create presentations on the information. In effect, the students teach each other, simultaneously developing mastery over the subject matter and the technology they use to create their presentations, while Childress provides guidance and clarifies points of confusion.
Childress described how she works in tandem with the Office of Academic Technology and Consulting in order to provide the best learning experience for her students.
“There’s an explicit support for people who want to integrate more technology, but like me, don’t really know how, or have an idea that they’re not really sure how to carry out,” she said.
The Office of Academic Technology and Consulting has existed under various names over the years and helps enhance professors’ teaching and research through technology, often using technologies that professors are not necessarily familiar with.
“The projects and the things that faculty envision are just so out of the ordinary oftentimes that they require some special expertise,” Director of Academic Technology and Consulting Stephen Houser said.
“A faculty member will have an idea for a project,” Academic Technology Consultant Paul Benham said. “They kind of know an end result that they want to get to, but they’re not really sure how they’re going to get to it using technology.”
The increasing technological resources at the College have also opened new doors for extracurricular and personal projects. Students regularly use the Media Commons to record music, film and edit movies and take photographs.
The Commons, a student-written, edited and produced podcast, focuses on telling stories about Bowdoin that are also relevant to the wider world. Another project, Bowdoin Stories, aims to create an archive of conversations between students in which they reflect on their experiences here and discuss topics that they might not usually bring up, such as how they learned to ride a bike.
Academic Multimedia Producer and Consultant Kevin Travers sees video and other technologies continuing to play a significant role in Bowdoin’s future. “Students are telling stories with video and photography in ways that are expanding exponentially on a regular basis,” he said.
News in brief: Changes to E.S. major
‘The Mask You Live In’ screening kicks off series of events about masculinity
Masculinity and male vulnerability are not always topics at the forefront of discussion on campus, but a new three-part series will attempt to address these issues. The series is a collaboration between the Bowdoin Men’s Group, Women’s Resource Center and Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Education. It kicked off on Wednesday with the screening of the documentary “The Mask You Live In,” followed by a panel discussion.
The film documents the struggle of boys and young men as they attempt to navigate masculinity as it is constructed in American society.
“Thinking about the ways in which we’ve constructed masculinity in society, it’s so pernicious, and so deeply ingrained,” said Assistant Professor of Sociology Theodore Greene, one of the panelists. “We take for granted the ways in which we become agents in this kind of socialization.”
The Bowdoin Men’s Group has been a major part of planning this series. The Bowdoin Men’s Group meets weekly on Thursday nights, and aims to create a space where men can come together and discuss difficult and uncomfortable issues such as sexual violence on campus.Jared Feldman ’16 was one of the first members of the Bowdoin Men’s Group, which he remembers as beginning informally and growing organically. For a group that will see many of its core members graduating in May, he sees this series as a way to get new students involved.
“For people who are excited about this event and want to continue to have these discussions and really delve a little bit deeper, there is a place on campus where you can do that,” he said.Feldman added that he sees the Men’s Group as a way for men to assume some responsibility in conversations they often aren’t actively initiating.
“We don’t think it should be the sole responsibility of women and current advocates on our campus to educate men. We think men need to take more initiative in educating ourselves,” he said.
The Bowdoin Men’s Group also helped to put on last fall’s Men’s Summit, an event that all male students on campus were encouraged to attend, and which also included some college faculty and staff.
The second part of this three-part series will be a screening on April 6 of the film “Together,” followed by a discussion with Director of Gender Violence Prevention and Education Benje Douglas. The final event of the series will be a visit on April 20 from guest speaker Arian Clements, the executive director of Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine.
'Like a Radio': Visiting artist works with Bowdoin printmaking course
For the casual art student, it’s easy to be intimidated by famous works of art, but with Shelley Thorstensen, Bowdoin students had little reason to be concerned.
“I’m a little bit cavalier about these, no white gloves,” she said of her prints.
Thorstensen, a professor at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and a world-renowned printmaker, spent the week at Bowdoin working with students enrolled in Printmaking I, taught by Associate Professor of Art Carrie Scanga. She also gave a talk about her work at the Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance on Monday.
Scanga stated that she hopes the students are able to make the most out of working with Thorstensen. She said she thinks it’s valuable for the students to be able to work with someone who makes a living focusing on and producing her own art.
“She’s in her studio 10 hours a day at least, every day, and I think it’s really special to meet somebody who does that,” Scanga said.
During her lecture, Thorstensen spoke about her inspirations for her work, taking the audience through her prints one by one. The title of her talk, “Like a Radio,” gives insight into her perspective on her own work. She sees her art as a synthesis of the information she takes in throughout the day, which she expresses through her prints.
“It comes out again as something new, like a radio. So it’s a metaphor,” she said.
Thorstensen has been working with Scanga's class on hectographs, a particular type of printmaking involving gelatin. An advantage of this technique is the relative speed with which artists can produce prints.
“They’re very quick to make a plate, so I’m trying to get them to think visually further than they normally would,” said Thorstensen.
She hopes that some exposure to a new printmaking process will give students a chance to think about the medium in a different way.
Ben West ’16, a student in Scanga’s class, agreed, noting that Thorstensen’s style was a change from what the class usually experiences.
“The class was really interesting because usually printmaking is such a long process. But with the gel printing, everything is immediate,” West said.
Thorstensen also spoke extensively about one particular print that she said had a great deal of religious symbolism. However, she noted that she didn’t begin the print with that idea in mind. Instead, she let herself change her approach as she worked on the piece.
“You can take a whole plate and draw for a long time,” she said. “It gives you some time to think. You draw, and you think.”