Politics, process and practice of medical leaves at Bowdoin
Professors confront politics in the classroom
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Professors confront politics in the classroom
In response to polarizing actions by the Trump administration, certain professors who teach courses related to American politics are implementing rules of engagement and providing students with relevant historical context in order to confront such charged issues in the classroom.
Associate Professor of Government Jeffrey Selinger, who teaches classes in American government, has accepted discussions about current political events as inevitable in his courses. As such, he has developed several rules to help guide discussion.
“One rule of engagement is that there must be a generous and fully legitimated and comfortable space for politically conservative students of various descriptions, whether they call themselves libertarians, whether they call themselves more social or religious conservatives, or something else,” Selinger said. “When they are in the numerical minority, my standard operating procedure is [that] I will, in argument, side with the minority.”
In an Orient survey prior to November’s election, 6.6 percent of student respondents identified themselves as Trump supporters.
In an effort to avoid alienating students whose political beliefs align with the president’s, Selinger tries to focus discussions critical of the president on Trump himself, not on his supporters.
“We have a clearer sense of what we’re talking about when we talk about Trump [himself] because he’s one person,” Selinger said. “We don’t have a very clear idea of Trump supporters because it’s a diverse lot of people. It’s 46, 47 percent of the voting public.”
Selinger also acknowledged that students’ emotions matter because politics can be deeply personal.
“It could be very constructive if feelings were treated as fodder for analysis,” he said. “It may happen to be therapeutic but that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to get some kind of mutual understanding. It’s a public purpose.”
Selinger stressed that professors should not avoid difficult subjects out of fear of being political.
“Faculty would do the College community a terrible disservice if we used apolitical, ‘balanced,’ or euphemistic language to sugarcoat a reality that we all should find deeply troubling,” Selinger said.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Government and Environmental Studies Divya Gupta spoke of a similar need to present the facts in her course, Earth Justice: Global Climate Change and Social Inequality.
“Telling [students] the science behind [climate change] and the history and the policies that have been building up to address this issue—I do not hold back on sharing those realities,” said Gupta. “At the same time, I have to make sure that I frame the message in a way that I do not come off as somebody who is being partial or biased.”
Assistant Professor of Government Maron Sorenson agreed on the importance of discussing current political events, but expressed the desire to do so in the context of her specific curriculum. In her constitutional law class, she presented students with Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and had students use the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause case law to determine the order’s constitutionality. In Sorenson’s judicial politics class, students take turns preparing 15-minute presentations on a current event, usually in relation to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
“My obligation is to provide the students a framework to critically engage with current events,” said Sorenson. “I won’t turn my class into a discussion of currents events or supplant what would be the baseline learning for a discussion of current events, because absent the academic structure—the reason they signed up for the class—they are not engaging with current events in any way that is different than they would have had they not been exposed to this material.”
Sorenson believes that objectively linking the curriculum to political events can work to eliminate partisanship in the classroom.
“The very easy way to avoid being partisan is to follow the tack of ‘here’s the scholarship, let’s apply the scholarship,’” she said. “Framing current events and forcing students to place them in decision-making models is, in and of itself, a generally non-partisan way of approaching [issues].”
John F. and Dorothy H. Hagee Associate Professor of Government Laura Henry also prioritizes addressing recent politics through the framework of her curriculum. She strives to strike the balance between students’ eagerness to discuss current events and her role as a professor to provide the historical, political, economic and cultural contexts that her courses intend to teach.
“The challenge that any professor has is to provide the necessary context and analytical frameworks that help us ask the best questions and not get distracted by the absolute onslaught of information that comes out of Twitter and Facebook and the 24-hour news cycle,” Henry said.
This semester, Henry is teaching two classes, Post-Communist Russian Politics and Society and Social Protest and Political Change. In both classes, she uses current events—such as Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March and representations of Russian politics in the news—to “help [students] guide how we can ask good questions and how we can compare to the past.”
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History Brian Purnell asserted that professors are not required to respond to the current political situation in their teaching.
“From a professional standpoint, as of today—and I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so the answer could change—the current American political situation does not mandate American historians, or any academic, to respond, or to respond in a specific way,” he wrote in an email to the Orient.
However, much like his colleagues, Purnell feels he may be able to provide historical context to help students understand the present. To this end, he has developed a new course, U.S. History, 1877-1945: The Making of a Superpower, which will debut in the 2018-19 academic year.
“I wanted to teach courses focused specifically on the nation’s history that, in part, answered the question, [of] what social, cultural, political and economic history brought us to our current national situations and conditions,” Purnell wrote.
While students generally found political conversations in class to be beneficial, many noted that a class discussion can cross a line and leave some students feeling excluded. Jacob Russell ’17 said that in one of his classes last semester, there was at least one contentious moment regarding current political events.
“Though generally discussion has been very good and open, in one class it was clear a professor and a majority of students were on the same page,” said Russell. “I think there were a couple of students who were more likely to be Trump supporters and felt like they didn’t have a space to share their opinions.”
Emma Newbery ’19 spoke highly of the atmosphere that Associate Professor of Religion Elizabeth Pritchard has set in her Marxism and Religion class.
“Professor Pritchard has struck a really good balance between supporting students, contextualizing the curriculum in the current American political climate and feeling free to talk about the readings and get an escape from everything that’s happening,” Newbery said.
Unchartered clubs recognize student needs, privacy
While the Student Activities Fair on Wednesday presented a vast range of organizations for students to join, two groups—Gender Matters and the Mental Health Group—went unrepresented among the tables as they once again chose to forgo the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) charter process this semester. In doing so, both groups forfeit their recognition as official BSG clubs and their ability to receive funding from the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC). However, leaders say that the privacy that students maintain and the freedom of discussion in these groups are worth the tradeoff.
Gender Matters is a discussion-based group for students who identify as non-binary or trans.
Paul Cheng ’17, who has helped run the group since his sophomore year, points to issues of privacy as a reason the group has never sought a charter.
“Most of the people in our group are not anonymous, but the idea is that if someone wanted to be, we wanted to give them that option to join the group and remain anonymous and not appear on any lists,” Cheng said.
Similar to Gender Matters, the Mental Health Group, a discussion-based support group for students who have had personal experiences with mental health issues, has also been unchartered since its inception in 2015. Leaders cited privacy as a benefit to remaining unchartered. Co-founder of the group Pat Toomey ’17 explained that because mental health issues tend to be stigmatized on campus, he and the other leaders believe that “anonymity is key” in boosting attendance and peer support.
“Anecdotally, we’ve just heard from a lot of people that they have fears of being forced on medical leave or things like that,” Toomey said. “We really wanted to make sure that people who needed to come to the meeting were able to come and not be afraid to.”
In addition to privacy, Cheng said that Gender Matters’ status as an unchartered group allows it to be a safe space exclusively for student who identify as trans or nonbinary to discuss struggles with gender identity.
“Chartered groups need … to not have restrictions on who can join the group,” said Cheng. “[Gender Matters] is a group for nonbinary, trans students, etc., so the idea behind that is we want it to be a group just for those students.”
While the group typically has six or seven members, it rose to the forefront of campus news at the end of last semester in response to a proposed “Gender Bender” party at MacMillan House. Members of the group spoke out against the party in a letter to MacMillan which was then published in the Orient.
Toomey also explained that being unchartered allows the group more freedom in its discussions of mental health.
“We could either charter it and have it be closely associated with ResLife and the Office of Student Life, but in that case we would have to have really set guidelines in terms of what we talked about and how we talked about it,” said Toomey. “We also wouldn’t want students to fear that what they said might get back to the administration, whether that meant ResLife or the Counseling Center.”
The Mental Health Group receives funding for poster advertising and tea at weekly meetings through the Health Education budget, managed by Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Education Christian Van Loenen and Gender Matters receives funding through the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity Director Kate Stern to put on trans visibility day in the spring.
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
Activist speaker to address intersectionality of mental health
Latina feminist mental health activist Dior Vargas will visit campus to run a series of events on the intersection of race and mental health today. The Women of Color Coalition and Bear in Mind invited Vargas to Bowdoin in an effort to increase minority representation in on-campus discussions about mental health.
The day will feature two events open to the campus: a workshop with Vargas at 24 College Street from 4-5 p.m. and a keynote speech in Searles 315 at 7:30 p.m.
As a student leader of both the Women of Color Coalition and Bear in Mind, Alexis Espinal ’17 worked hard to bring Vargas to campus.
“A lot of the time, counseling and mental health will seem like a white thing, which affects a lot of people of color who struggle with mental health issues,” Espinal said. “They don’t necessarily feel comfortable getting help. They don’t have the right documents to get help. They don’t have enough money to get help. It’s a whole bunch of different aspects that play into mental health.”
A champion for LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and mental health rights and destigmatization, Vargas is a recipient of, among several other awards, the The White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations award. Espinal searched for a speaker that could bring her two groups together, and found that through Vargas’s use of intersectionality, she could expand the conversation about race and mental health at Bowdoin.
“I decided to invite her because I feel this late trend at Bowdoin now has been about intersectionality,” said Espinal. “It’s been a lot of conversations about race, a lot of conversations about socioeconomic status, a lot of emphasis on how different identities play out and I think after this election it’s also something important to talk about.”
Other co-sponsors of the events are the psychology department, the Student Center for Multicultural Life, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the Women’s Resource Center.
Sabbaticals limit government seminars
Government and Legal Studies majors may be unable to take 3000-level seminars in the spring semester, due to several department faculty who will be on sabbatical. Options for the seminar—a course required for the major—will be particularly limited for students concentrating in international relations, according Chair of Government and Legal Studies Department Michael Franz in an email sent to all junior and senior majors on Sunday.
“We have known that this particular year would be a bit of a challenge with our courses,” Franz said. “[When] faculty will go on leave, we replace those faculty with sabbatical replacements, but we traditionally don’t ask the sabbatical replacements to teach advanced seminars.”
According to Franz, the department will give priority in seminars to seniors. All government majors must take a senior seminar, which are limited to 15 students, either during their junior or senior year.
The limited number of spots will most likely affect juniors; however, Franz said this is not a huge cause of concern since those students can take the seminars their senior spring.
The department did not offer any senior seminars this semester, which is typical as many government professors instead teach first year seminars. Franz said that the department may offer a few senior seminars next fall so that some current juniors don’t have to take their senior seminar during their final semester at the College.
Connor Rooney ’18 is a government major planning to concentrate in American government. He noted that the limits were a source of stress among his peers.
“I think in general it’s going to create more tension, [for] people deciding what they want to do,” he said. “I think it affects all [government] majors, not just [international relations] students.”
Government and legal studies is the most popular department at Bowdoin, with about 200 junior and senior declared majors. Over half of government majors choose to concentrate in international relations, Franz said.
To earn a government and legal studies major, a student must take four classes (including a senior seminar) in one of four concentrations: American government, comparative government, international relations or political theory.
BOC student leaders find their own adventures
Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) members are taking their passion for the outdoors outside of the BOC to explore Maine and beyond and to develop their leadership skills.
Jennings Leavell ’17 is currently taking time off from Bowdoin to work as a full-time staff member with Kieve-Wavus Education, a camp in Nobleboro, Maine that runs experiential learning programs that aim to bring students outside of the classroom through summer and school year programs.
“I needed a break, a time to step back from Bowdoin, from the culture and the community to learn more about myself—to think, generally, to breathe, do something else,” said Leavell, who first took a semester off in the second half of his first year and decided to do it again as a senior.
A BOC leader and Wisconsin-native, Leavell has always had an avid appreciation of the outdoors. His raft guide training through the BOC launched him into a summer of leading raft trips commercially for New England Outdoor Center, which eventually connected him to the job with Kieve-Wavus.
“I had visions initially of getting out of Maine,” said Leavell. “I realized that Maine is not just Bowdoin. Bowdoin can become very central in a Bowdoin-ite’s conception of Maine. I just saw a lot of people who also loved Maine for reasons that are totally unrelated to Bowdoin. Then this opportunity to come to Kieve was presented to me.”
At Kieve-Wavus, Leavell would find different places outside to play games that teach the kids how to communicate. “[The activities] push their buttons and make it hard, and then we step back and debrief it,” said Leavell, who is interested in pursuing a career in education.
Leavell is not the first BOC leader to further his or her outdoor learning after training with the BOC. Bowdoin currently has two other students who have worked as commercial raft guides and one as a commercial sea kayak guide.
Niklas Bergill ’18, Jack Mitchell ’17 and Uma Blanchard ’17 all trained to be raft guides with the Outing Club, later getting their licenses—Blanchard for sea kayaking—through their respective guide companies. All three participated in BOC Leadership Training and are now trip leaders. Blanchard, who has been sea kayaking for seven years and was a commercial guide for one summer, trained through the Midwest-based wilderness leadership program Camp Manitowish.
“I really love leading and not [professionally] guiding. With guiding you really have to deal with clients who just want the ‘perfect outdoor experience,’ and you can never give that to them,” said Blanchard. “It’s also a very sexist industry, so I had a terrible experience guiding in terms of sexism.”
Citing the experience as her first “real” confrontation with sexism, Blanchard pointed to the raft guide outfitters as culprits of sexual harassment as well as other forms of sexism.
“If you’re leading a session with a male guide, everyone is going to automatically look to the male guide as the source of authority, even if you may have more certification, more years of experience, et cetera,” said Blanchard.
Bergill, after practicing rafting in the Kennebec River with the BOC his sophomore year, decided to guide professionally at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, NC this past summer.
Mitchell sought out a guiding position with Northeast Whitewater, a Maine-based company, after meeting one of its guides through the BOC’s Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training run out of the BOC over winter break.
“I had fallen in love with white water my freshman year through kayaking and learning how to kayak with the Outing Club. Then sophomore year I was thinking about trying to find a job where I could be outside all summer and live out of a tent. So I was thinking about working as a raft guide,” said Mitchell.
After enduring a rigorous ten-day training this May to lead raft trips, moose tours and swift water rescue courses, Mitchell guided with the company throughout the summer down the Kennebec River and West Branch of the Penobscot.
“The customers are great and these rivers are so beautiful and so wild, especially the West Branch of the Penobscott—it is a full, incredible Maine experience. You have Katahdin in the background and we’ll see a moose and everyday we’ll see three bald eagles and it’s just gorgeous,” said Mitchell.
Outsiders at College House parties prompt campus concern
A recent uptick in trespassers at College House parties has prompted the Department of Safety and Security and the Office of Residential Life to reinforce the safety procedures set in place to regulate crowds at such events. Security confirmed that non-Bowdoin Brunswick residents have been present at parties at Quinby, Baxter and Ladd this year.
In the early hours of the morning of October 1, Rojelio Garcia—who is currently on active duty with the U.S. Navy—was charged with criminal threatening after allegedly brandishing a knife in the direction of two Bowdoin students. The student body was notified of the incident in an email from Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols on October 2.
“We are assuming that [Garcia] was in Baxter prior to the incident, based on the flow of traffic, but we can’t determine that for sure,” Nichols said.
However, Garcia was not the only non-Bowdoin student or guest at the College that night.
“We can confirm that some of the people that he was with the night the knife incident occurred were at previous College House parties, and at least one of them had returned the next night, after the knife incident,” Nichols said.
At a campus-wide party on the Saturday night following the knife incident, Quinby members discovered four naval cadets had entered the party and were playing beer pong in the basement. At the time, students had not yet been notified of the alleged knife incident.
“They set off several red flags to me as to whether or not they were Bowdoin students,” said President of Quinby House Lucian Black ’19, who was one of the event hosts that night.
“They all had military haircuts, they were standing away from everybody else,” he said. “When I asked them if they were Bowdoin students, they couldn’t answer and then they tried to explain that they knew someone there and couldn’t come up with a last name or where he lived or any other relevant fact about this person. That’s when I knew to ask them to leave.”
Black and the other event hosts then escorted the men outside as the alcohol host called Bowdoin Security, who arrived promptly, followed by Brunswick Police Department.
Later that night, Black and the alcohol and event hosts debriefed with Nichols.
“We’re asking event hosts to be very cognizant as to who they’re allowing into events. If there’s ever a situation where somebody gains entrance to an event that is causing a problem or it doesn’t appear that they should be there, immediately report that incident to Security,” Nichols said.
According to Assistant Director of Residential Life Mariana Centeno, the primary procedure to ensure a safe event is vigilant door duty, in which event hosts must request to see Bowdoin ID from every partygoer at the door.
“People have been getting really lax with door duty, getting really lax with letting people who are not Bowdoin students into their events,” said Centeno.
In a meeting with all College House officers on Tuesday, Nichols emphasized the importance of attentive House members guarding the door at parties.
Baxter House successfully prevented an uninvited partygoer from entering during their second campus-wide of the year in September.
“This man, who was probably in his 40s, came to the door and had glasses and a beard and definitely did not look like a student, but was holding a bag of Twisted Teas,” said Baxter House Programming Director Phoebe Bradberry ’19, who was manning the door at the time.
“He tried to walk in and we asked, ‘Can I see your OneCard?’ And he said, ‘Oh sorry I left it at the dorm, I’ll just leave.’ So then once he left, we called Security and then a couple minutes later a student came in and said that there was a creepy man outside asking directions to dorms and so they also called Security,” she said.
According to Bradberry, another incident involved alums from 2004 and 2006 arriving at an event hosted by a group using Baxter that night, but it was unclear whether or not they were the guests of students. A concerned party attendee called Security to have them escorted out as well.
All of the trespassing incidents have involved post-college aged men.
Emily Weyrauch contributed to this report.
As off-campus housing numbers grow, students face new responsibilities
An increasing number of Bowdoin students are eschewing College housing. In 2010, six percent of students lived off-campus; that figure rose to seven percent in 2012 and nine percent last year. Although the College has not finished compiling enrollment data for this academic year, the trend has continued upward, according to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster.
While students cite the freedom, affordability and flexibility associated with being removed from campus regulations as reasons for living off-campus, incidents within the first few weeks of classes have also raised concerns about the consequences off-campus living for both the College and the town of Brunswick.
“I wanted to live off campus mainly because I’m sick of dorm life. Even freshman year, by the second semester. I was like, ‘this feels so sterile and contained,’” said Stephanie Sun ’18. Sun, who lives on the corner of Maine and Belmont Streets, began her search for an off-campus house last spring, beginning with Craigslist and the Bowdoin Classifieds. At the time, she lived in Burnett House.
“With the role that you take as somebody who lives in a College House and the responsibility that you take on, you become hyper aware of all these different rules that you have,” said Sun. She wanted to experience a different side of social life at Bowdoin by living off campus.
Living off campus removes some regulations from Bowdoin’s social scene. Off-campus parties are not registered. In the event of a disturbance, the Brunswick police—not campus security—are the first responders.
A day before the start of the fall semester classes, one student was transported from an off-campus residence. In an email to the student body on Wednesday, Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols warned students that neighbors of the had been complaining about excessive noise, intoxicated students and litter.
Living off campus tasks students with taking greater responsibility for their own decisions—a challenge that many students embrace.
“There is something that feels so intimate but also very maturing about living in an off campus house,” said Hailey Beaman ’18, who signed the lease for her house during the spring of her sophomore year. “The bills are under my name, the lease falls under my name, so a lot of the responsibilities in terms of finances fall under my concern. In a way, I feel more like an adult, since I’ve learned all these things that I won’t have to learn [after] college.”
Several students expressed that living off campus provided them with valuable separation between the College and their non-academic lives.
“It’s nice for us to have a space for us that’s removed,” said Bo Bleckel ’18, who rents a house on Garrison Street from Professor of Economics Guillermo Herrera. “You can definitely go home and feel like you’re going home and that’s separate from school.”
Jesse Chung ’18, who lives with Bleckel, notes that while they do achieve a psychological distance between school and home being situated far from campus, they notice the physical distance as well.
“It definitely does make me value being much more centrally located like in the freshman bricks,” said Chung.
Beaman expressed that despite the physical distance, she still feels connected to campus.
“I still feel very connected to the social pulse of campus,” she said. “I do sometimes miss living in a College House with other people on the floor and having that dialogue in the bathroom, hallway or in the house, like a first-year dorm. It is coming at a good time because over the years I’ve sort of learned to recognize the value for myself in being alone and having a separation between living space and school.”
For some students, living off campus comes with financial benefits.
“[My apartment] is cheaper than campus housing. If you’re thinking about value in terms of the quality of the apartment then for the most part it’s greater than the value of a campus dorm in that the furniture is nicer and there was more space,” said Sun.
At the same time, some students were surprised by other costs that popped up.
“The cooking was mostly a financial adjustment ... I never realized how expensive it was,” said Beaman. “I had a lot of conversations on food security and access in the U.S. It was a thought provoking adjustment.”
Sundials on Hubbard Hall attract audiences from around the country
Among the many unknown treasures of the College are the three vertical sundials mounted on the exterior walls of Hubbard Hall. But these sundials, of a rarified breed called “fall decliners,” are not overlooked by all, they were the highlight of the annual North American Sundial Society (NASS) conference held in Portland this past June.
According to NASS President and Co-Founder Fred Sawyer, fall decliners are sundials where the dial sits vertically on a wall that is not oriented directly east or west, requiring its lines to be asymmetrically distributed. The calculations behind a fall-decliner, Sawyer explained, are especially complicated and rich in mathematical theory, piquing the interest of NASS members across the country during their Maine sundial tour this summer.
NASS is comprised of sundial manufacturers, designers, craftsmen and theorists who flock to sundial hotspots annually to pay tribute to and discuss prominent dials such as the ones at Bowdoin.
The Hubbard dials first appeared on the public sundial registry, which is run through the NASS website. When the society looked for a city in which to hold the NASS annual conference, the Hubbard dials stood out as a compelling destination for the conference tour.
“We looked up on the registry what we had, and the Hubbard Hall dials were clearly the best dials in the area. Portland doesn’t have much, but those are particularly nice dials,” said Sawyer.
According to Sawyer, the Hubbard dials are three of 800 registered sundials in North America (a modest number compared to the 15,000 in England and France). Though the Hubbard dials are a NASS landmark, Sawyer points out that the east dial is easily overlooked because it only indicates time from sunrise to noon.
Sawyer also notes that while the dials appear to tell time incorrectly to us, they in fact display solar time. He attributes the appearance of error to the fact that 24 is only the average number of hours in a day, and from day to day our own clocks may be as many as 30 seconds off of standard time. At certain points in the year, the Hubbard dials appear to be as many as 16 minutes fast or slow, but they are, in fact, aligned with standard time.
For such dials requiring such meticulous mathematics, Sawyer praised the Hubbard dials as “particularly nicely done.”
“[The Hubbard dials] were the highlight of the tour,” he said.
BowdoinOne Day finishes short of goal, but remains second-best year of campaign
This year, BowdoinOne Day, the culminating day of a month-long fundraising campaign, finished with a total of 2,994 gifts, or $770,000, from alumni, parents and students. 32 percent of these gifts came in on One Day itself, which took place on April 28.
While this year’s One Day campaign finished about 1,500 donations short of its goal of 4,500, it was still the second best year of the campaign’s history, according to Director of the Alumni Fund Aric Walton.
“We set the goal that we did in hopes of matching last year’s accomplishment which was an incredibly audacious goal given that last year was extraordinary,” said Associate Vice President for Annual and Leadership Giving Brannon Fisher.
Last year, the campaign reached an all-time high of 4,314 gifts by the end of the month. Anonymous donors gave $2 million to be used for student financial aid after the campaign surpassed its goal of 4,300 gifts.
In explaining the anomalous success of the previous year, Walton called it a “perfect storm.”“President Mills was nearing the end of his term… We just had Clayton Rose announced, so there was a lot of energy...in the Bowdoin community,” said Walton. “[This year] we had more dialogue going, or just as much, it just didn’t translate into the same number of gifts.”The Alumni Fund recruits over 700 alumni to help fundraise year-round. The contributions received through the BowdoinOne Day campaign were among the 6,891 received this fiscal year thus far, which ends on June 30.
In addition to the help of alumni volunteers, BowdoinOne Day also relies on social media to publicize the campaign and connect Bowdoin alumni from across the globe.
“The students were pretty instrumental in helping get that hashtag out there and raising the awareness of the day,” said Walton. “The social aspect is really important. It’s a window back into Brunswick for one day to see what’s going on.”
Though BowdoinOne Day this year received no matching donations, the overall alumni participation rate of 39.6 percent is still similar to that of other years.
“[A matching donation] just didn’t materialize this year, and looking back, that’s going to be a good thing. We want people to authentically think about supporting Bowdoin. It’s a great place to support,” said Walton. “We don’t take alumni support for granted—we know that we have to earn it every year.”
In addition to BowdoinOne Day, the Senior Class Gift Campaign (SCGC) is another major ongoing fundraising effort of the College. The campaign just reached 58 percent participation this week, a mere two percent away from unlocking a $10,000 match donation.
“[The SCGC] is an effort to educate people on how to be alumni,” said Kiefer Solarte ’16, one of five SCGC directors. “It’s a big switch going from senior year to not having the same relationship that you had with Bowdoin…[the SCGC] is about getting people to engage, not only this year but for the future as well.”
With a goal of 85 percent participation, the campaign will continue until June 30. “We really don’t look at a monetary goal at all,” said Margaret Webster ’16, another director on the SCGC team. “When we get a gift, there’s always been a conversation about what that means. We’re very fortunate that the amount of that gift doesn’t matter and that participation is so important.”
This year, the money raised by the SCGC will support a scholarship for a student in the Class of 2020. While the Class of 2016’s SCGC is the fifth to donate its efforts toward a scholarship, it is the first to graduate a member of its own class who was supported by the SCGC fund of another class.
Video: Meet the candidates for BSG President
The Orient asked BSG presidential candidates Justin Pearson '17 and Harriet Fisher '17 about three key issues
Helping the community, New Beet Market sources food locally
Years of working in the restaurant business led 27-year-old entrepreneur Jamie Pacheco to claim that she would never do so again. However, years of experience in the nonprofit sector with food systems, a winning business model at the 2015 Maine Innovation Challenge and the opening of her own locally-sourced, low-profit eatery all under her belt have helped to change her mind.
Pacheco explained that if it were not for the mission of the New Beet Market, she and her spouse and business partner, Nate Wildes, wouldn’t be there. The Market draws exclusively from local farms, enlists the help of students from local schools and parcels two-thirds of its earnings out to its nonprofit partners Seeds of Independence and the Harpswell Coastal Academy (HCA), both of which run youth programs and sustainable farms.
The market also hires students from HCA as interns so they can garner entrepreneurial, kitchen and customer service skills.
Pacheco believes that New Beet Market’s local sourcing is what attracts customers to their business.
“It means that the farm you drive by, that farm and that family are making a living and feeding their kids and then in turn, contributing back to the community and making our economy stronger, healthier and happier,” she said.
HCA and Seeds of Independence asked the couple to combine Pacheco’s experience in the nonprofit food industry and Wildes’ knowledge of business consulting to create a model that would combine both organizations in a food-based enterprise. The two pitched their plan at the Maine Innovation Challenge, which Bowdoin hosted this past fall.
Pacheco and Wildes did not expect to win, let alone turn the pitch into a reality. In fact, the two were originally hesitant when HCA and Seeds of Independence approached them. But before they knew it, Pacheco and Wildes became the co-owners of New Beet Market which opened on March 21 during a snowstorm.
The market is spacious and filled with tables and couches, perfect for a peaceful study space and a place to enjoy a locally brewed Bottomless Mug of coffee or their specialty beet chips, made fresh every day.
The name, according to Pacheco, was a spontaneous creation during the early stages of preparing the pitch for the contest. As she and her team threw together different words, New Beet Market arose and stuck.
From the name came their various beet-infused innovations, from beet juice mayonnaise to beet juice whoopie pies and roast beet salad. According to Pacheco, customers will often come in claiming an aversion to beets and leave having been converted after trying the cafe’s signature products.
So far, the market has been overwhelmed with the positive responses from the community.“People love that we have kids in here fulfilling hands-on learning projects, entrepreneurial learning and workplace development programming and that high-risk youth are working in gardens and doing projects,” said Pacheco.
Belle Hall, an employee at the market who moves fluidly throughout the store to take orders, make sandwiches and coffee, work the cash register and chat with customers, applied for a job there after strolling in one day when volunteering at the neighboring preschool. Hall, like the rest of the staff, loves working in a placed rooted in community outreach.
In the past week and half of business and a three-week trial period, both Hall and Pacheco have noticed one hiccup in the process—when HCA is not in session or has a snow day and students can’t come in to work.
“When the kids are here, they’re great,” said Pacheco. “They work hard, they smile, they do whatever we ask them to, and right now that’s what the internship is.”
Although the market has received some complaints about the pricing, Pacheco uses these as educational moments.
“It costs more to source locally,” said Pacheco. “When they make that comment, I explain why we source the way we do. It costs more to do that, and it’s very important to us because that strengthens Maine’s economy.”
The market is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week and 8 a.m to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
Alum, current student capture Bowdoin's quad in Camera Obscura photograph
Though Abelardo Morell ’77, hasn’t been a student at Bowdoin for many years, his connection to the College still runs deep. Morell, a respected photographer specializing in camera obscura, is currently displaying his work in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Morell worked with Nevan Swanson ’18 to develop the project, completing it in the summer of 2015. He also worked with with Swanson last February to photograph winter scenes in his Brunswick-centric series “A Mind of Winter.”
Morell had his first contact with photography as a junior at Bowdoin in John Mckee’s photography class. Since then, he has prospered as an internationally-known artist. He began to experiment with his innovative camera obscuras in 1991.
Morell had wanted to return to Bowdoin to create this particular photograph of the Quad for several years. Having first learned the basics of photography in the basement of the art museum, he was interested in honoring that space through his artwork. Morell also worked as a security guard at the museum steps, looking out on the same view he would recreate 45 years later.
“I began to do photography in Moulton Union. I don’t know if it’s still there,” said Morell. “There was a dark room there so the very early beginnings [of my career] are all tied up with Bowdoin. It was a natural landscape for me to feel out.”
Camera obscura is a special form of photography with an intricate process. Using the rotunda of the museum, Morell enlisted facilities, the Museum staff, his assistant and Swanson to help him prepare the space. Creating a “light-tight” room, they blocked all light-emitting sources of the room, covering the windows, doors, skylights and the rotunda’s cupola with garbage bags, matte boards and tarps. They painted the the door that faces the quad, covered it in black plastic in which Morell cut a small hole, where he placed a lens that projected an upside-down view of the quad onto the opposing wall of the room. Placing a prism on the lens, Morell flipped the image.
According to Swanson’s description of the process, the vibrant summer scene stretched across the interior wall of the otherwise dark room, and Morell, using 30-45 second exposures, captured the image with his camera.
Swanson described the procedure as one of trial and error, with Morell communicating from inside with someone on the Quad via walkie-talkie, directing people where to sit, lounge and walk as a part of the photograph.
“It was like we were choreographing a whole dance,” said Morell.
“Then he invites some of the museum people in to just sit there,” said Swanson. "Because it’s really cool to just sit there for five or six minutes and just watch the clouds change inside of a room.”
The relaxed, grassy image of a Bowdoin summer reminded both Morell and Co-director of the Museum of Art Frank Goodyear of a mix between historical works Italian artist Raphael’s “School of Athens” and “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette” by artist Georges Seurat.
“He was thinking of the composition in terms of the history of art and that these references add to the larger meaning of the picture,” said Goodyear. “Which is really a celebration of this place of intellectual inquiry and creativity.”
The photograph belongs to an edition of 100 prints that will be sold through the museum. Morell intends for the proceeds to create an endowment for the photography department at the College. According to Goodyear, Morell hopes the money will specifically help acquire contemporary work by young photographers for the Museum’s collection.
“The resulting work is really beautiful,” Goodyear said of the piece. “It’s a great act of generosity.”
The Museum of Art maintains a collection of upward of 50 Morell pieces, many of which have been exhibited in the museum’s galleries. His photograph of is displayed in the museum’s rotunda.
News in brief: Sociologists begin research on Bowdoin's racial and ethnic climate
Sociologists Camille Charles and Rory Kramer arrived on campus last week to begin research on Bowdoin’s racial and ethnic climate. As announced in an email from President Clayton Rose to the community on December 3, the researchers will collect information about the way students’ race affects their experience at Bowdoin. They will eventually offer recommendations for how the College may take action.
In their first visit to the College, Charles and Kramer conducted a series of 90-minute discussions with different student groups as well as faculty to discuss students’ experiences at Bowdoin as well as instances of racial and ethnic bias. Among these groups were the executive committee of Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) and queer students of color.
Julian Tamayo ’16, who works as a student coordinator in the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and spoke with Charles and Kramer in one of these conversations, said that they did not pose any specific questions for the students but rather offered a space to freely share experiences. BSG President Danny Mejia-Cruz ’16 concurred that the researchers intend to focus on culture and climate by recording anecdotal data through frank conversations.
Charles and Kramer declined to comment until their project is complete.
Editor's note (2/26/16 at 11 a.m.): It was originally reported that Charles and Kramer spoke to Tamayo as part of a group of students of color from the BQSA. The group was not affiliated with BQSA.
WBOR broadcasts student muscians
Musicians at the College have a new venue through which they may showcase their music, and it airs on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. from the basement of Dudley Coe. Hosted by Harry Rube ’16 and Sam Kyzivat ’18, “Live on WBOR” features student music and is the newest radio program on WBOR, the College’s own FM radio station.
Modeled after Seattle’s KEXP live program, which invites artists into the studio for a dual interview-performance, “Live on WBOR” provides student musicians an opportunity for airtime in which they can both play and speak about their music.
As co-president of the Bowdoin Music Collective, a long-time WBOR DJ and founder of “Live on WBOR,” Rube has dreamt of developing a show like this one since he was a sophomore, when he realized the music scene on campus lacked a forum where students could broadcast their own music.
“Until now, I never really had the equipment or the time or the help to put that kind of thing together,” said Rube. “I thought, ‘Hey, it’s my senior year, might as well go for it.’”While there are several opportunities to perform on campus—such as at College House parties, Pub Night, Chase Barn shows and weekly Bowdoin Unplugged sessions behind the Café—“Live on WBOR” not only stands out for its medium but also for its in-studio audio and video recordings that are published to the show’s YouTube channel.
Rube recognizes that radio is regarded by many as a “dying” artform but hopes that bringing live performances to WBOR will draw in more listeners.
Kyzivat feels that the show will fill a gap in Bowdoin’s music culture, and he performed in the inaugural session of the show. An electric violinist, he played a set of five songs—three original compositions and two covers—in the hour-long session, intermittently interviewed by Rube about the pieces.
The first session was February 10. Kyzivat will co-host with Rube in future sessions. “He knows about this kind of stuff,” said Rube about Kyzivat. “He knows how to put on a good act, so it’s just really interesting—loops, violins, pedals. It’s very different.”Both hosts hope that the show attracts a following on campus, both of the broadcast and the online recordings.
Kyzivat said the he hopes students will take advantage of this new type of music experience at Bowdoin and actually tune into the show instead of just watching the videos afterward. Musicians are largely invited to be on the show through the Bowdoin Music Collective, where both Rube and Kyzivat already know many of the members. Rube encourages musicians on campus to reach out to him or Kyzivat if they want to perform on the show.
“We’d love to have anyone that wants to play as long as they’ve practiced and their set’s pretty clean,” said Kyzivat.
The show is not limited to any specific genre or style and is especially open to original work. Students may follow the show via its Facebook page, where the recordings and news of upcoming artists are published.
Harry Rube ’16 is a staff writer for the Orient.
New security tool further protects campus network
The Information Technology (IT) department will install a new security tool, an Internet Protection Service (IPS), that will further protect the campus network from malware, viruses and cyber attacks, according to an email sent to the campus community on Monday morning by Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of IT Mitch Davis.
While the main goal of an IPS would be to “keep the system as clean as possible,” the new software will also allow IT to see if illegal sites are being used on Bowdoin’s network.
The IPS will scan all internet usage on the Bowdoin Network. It will not block any website unless that site has previously been reported to spread viruses to the network, nor will it initially detect potentially “high-risk” sites, or sites known to attack networks. Davis labels pornography and gambling websites as high-risk for their reputation for malware distribution.
While students were worried about perceived infringement on their privacy, the IPS will rather act as a recording device, the data of which IT will examine in the event of an incident, such as a malware or illegal activity report. Depending on the specific IPS system, it may then notify users when they have gone to a potentially dangerous site.
Davis drew an analogy between the purpose of the IPS and that of a security camera.
“We have two hundred and something security cameras and they’re constantly recording everything, but nobody can look at all of it,” he said. “If there’s a problem they can go back and look through the video. That’s what [this device] does.”
Davis hopes that announcing the IPS will raise awareness about privacy on the internet beyond just the Bowdoin network. He said it had been recommended by several large consulting firms and the College’s audit committee.
“People think there are privacy concerns and I agree with them. There are privacy concerns around this. But if you have Gmail, all of your emails are scanned,” said Davis. “Google’s reading my stuff, Facebook’s reading my stuff—how much privacy do I really have? People know where you’re going, where you’re shopping, the minute you get on your phone and do web browser they know location.”
In the past, the most common form of illegal activity on the network has been the illegal downloading of music and movies. When this happens, the original content provider (such as SONY) notifies IT, and the report is passed off to the Dean of Student Affairs. They would then notify the student that their illegal internet activity has been detected.
According to Davis, there have been two students in the past ten years to be called into the Dean’s Office to address internet activity. They had repeatedly used illegal downloading sites after being notified.
This procedure will remain the same with the IPS installed.
In managing malware distribution on students’ personal computers, there is no disciplinary procedure when the original website is not illegal. IT will rather clean the infected machine and record the site that spread the virus. In order for this to happen, the student must report it to IT and the address will be flagged within the IPS’ system.
The way in which the IPS then protects people from using that site varies among different versions of IPS products. The site may only offer a warning for potential malware distribution as well as the option to click through and continue to the site. However in the case that the site is known for more severe attacks, the IPS can block the address completely.
IT has been requesting funding for an IPS for the past six years, then last year, the College purchased cyber insurance.
“We’re paying this money for cyber insurance but in reality if we were to have a problem, which could be millions of dollars, they would not cover it because we didn’t put in an IPS. So it got funded,” said Davis.
The College approved funding for the IPS on Saturday.
The current security system for the College includes a Barracuda Firewall, which scans every email in Bowdoin webmail for sensitive information and “strips” it out in the event the network is hacked. The system also uses Symantec Protection, an antivirus software.
IT has not yet decided on which IPS they will purchase. When they do, they will notify the campus community. Campus will also be notified when they begin installation. Davis predicts it will be implemented this summer, if not sooner.
Bowdoin Winter Break longer than most
While Bowdoin students were home this winter break, students at many other NESCAC schools were back at school. This year, Bowdoin’s five-week Winter Break was longer than seven of the other 10 NESCAC schools. Some of these schools go on winter break for three to four weeks, while others, such as Amherst (which has an option “Interterm”), Williams and Middlebury, have a short winter term called “January Term,” “J-Term,” “Jan Plan” or “Winter Term.”
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster used to be the chair of Bowdoin’s Calendar Committee, which builds the school year around holidays so that every semester has exactly 68 class or “teaching” days. Last year and this year Bowdoin had only 66 and 67 teaching days respectively, which Foster said was due to the timing of holidays as well as 2016’s leap year.
“I think there’s this misconception that Bowdoin has this really long winter break and Bowdoin has this two-week spring break and that’s unusual, and that we’re not in school very often,” said Foster. “Actually what you’ll notice when you look at the class days is that we are at the very high end.”
For the spring semester, only Amherst and Hamilton will surpass Bowdoin’s number of teaching days, both with 70. Bates only has 60, though that does not factor in a 25-day ‘Short Term’ running from late-April to late-May that Bates students are allowed to participate in a maximum of three times during their college career. Foster said that Bowdoin has no plans to implement such a program.
“[A Jan Plan has] never been something that’s gotten a lot of consideration,” said Foster. “Part of the reason being that most times when Jan Plans exist on our peer school campuses, the courses are taught by visiting faculty members, they may or may not be for credit, it’s usually a single course that someone takes.”
According to Foster, the general attitude toward Jan Plan courses is that they are “soft courses,” because the three-to-four week time constraint prevents them from having the same academic rigor as semester-long ones.
“I could quote some of my colleagues at other places saying, ‘Oh, the Jan Plan, you mean where someone can come back and take a soft class, ski, and drink, and then drink some more?’” Foster said.
In January of 2013 and 2014, the College partnered with the Fullbridge Program, which took place in the final two weeks of winter break and offered students the opportunity to take business classes, but the program was discontinued last year.
According to Foster, the late-January return is unrelated to the cost of maintaining the school in the winter, though the College does close Coles Tower and several other residences and academic buildings on campus to minimize its carbon footprint.
Foster said a big factor in extending Bowdoin’s winter break into January was the desire to hold commencement in late May, over Memorial Day weekend.
“A week before Commencement happens, suddenly things bloom, the lilacs come out, the grass on the quad starts to get a little bit green and we have a beautiful commencement on the museum steps,” Foster said.
Foster also recognized that Winter Break is an important research period for faculty. Many take the five weeks to travel internationally.
Not all Bowdoin students stay away from campus the entire break. This year, 350 students returned to campus early for a variety of reasons. Eighty percent of them returned to train for their winter varsity sport, while the remaining 20 percent returned to work on honors and research projects or for Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training for the Bowdoin Outing Club.
“I really like having three weeks to relax at home, and then coming back for track. If I didn’t have track it would be too long,” said Anthony Bellavia ’16. Varsity Track and Field returned two weeks early, while most other winter sports returned three to four weeks early. For other students, especially those living outside the Northeast, five weeks was just enough time to settle in at home.
Jeff Josephs ’19 is originally from Haiti, but now lives in Florida.
“I think people should have the option of coming back early if they want,” he said. “But for me personally I thought it was perfect because I wanted to be home. I didn’t see my family for four months, so I wanted to be with them and see my friends.”
New provider Workplace to modernize old payroll, HR and timekeeping system
On January 4, the College will launch Workday, a new payroll, human resources and timekeeping system. It will replace their current provider, Ceridian.
“The ease and look and feel of the system is just so much better than what we currently have today,” said Vice President of Human Resources Tama Spoerri.
Human Resources (HR) decided to switch systems in February of 2014, when Ceridian announced it would undergo a full upgrade, requiring all customers to transfer over their own data. Prior to the announcement, the College had already begun to review management systems that offered a module for higher education, which Ceridian did not. The upgrade announcement along with the need for a system with an education platform ultimately triggered HR to leave Ceridian and sign with Workday, which is among the few human resources management systems that does offer such a platform.
Ceridian, which the College has used for over 10 years, manages two subsystems: TimePro, for time-tracking and payroll, and HR’s employee-benefits system. The current version of Ceridian requires some self-service management to be done on paper.
Workday is an entirely web-based and single-sign-on system. Employees and employers alike will simply enter their Bowdoin username and password to gain access to their entire experience as Bowdoin employees: pay, benefits, time-tracking, personal information, requesting time-off and so on. Workday may also be accessed via their mobile app.
Spoerri praised Workday for being “incredibly user friendly.”
Workday has over 1,000 customers, ranging from academic institutions, to tech companies, to nonprofit organizations. Among those are larger, research-based universities such as Brown, Colgate and Stanford. In the past year, Workday has worked to make their services more affordable for small-scale institutions such as Bowdoin. Bowdoin is the first of the NESCACs to transfer systems, though according to Spoerri, “several of our peer colleges are in the process of reviewing it and actually may be in a position to move to Workday within the next year.”
“[Workday] want[s] to try, for small institutions, a fast, lower-cost implementation to see how it would work,” said Director of Enterprise Systems and Project Management Abbie Brown. “In the end, they are going to extend [implementation time] back out a little bit, by maybe two months because it was a very rapid implementation.”
The College submitted an RFP (Request For Proposal) to Workday in the summer of 2014. “We went through the evaluation process in the fall and then signed the contract at the end of January of 2015—this year,” said Brown.
She attributes the fast pace of the project to the members of the team. The executive sponsors—people who endorse the project and aid the labor-intensive process of switching systems—are Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley and Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of IT Mitch Davis.
The rest of the Project Team includes another sub-group of sponsors, a Core Team and a Focus Team of members from various departments throughout campus, who HR consulted from the beginning of the process in order to gather inclusive perspectives on the system changeover. Among those departments are Facilities, Dining, Library, Safety and Security and Academic Affairs.
Students employed by the College will all receive their own Workday account. For students who already record their hours online, they will continue to do so in Workday. Otherwise, employers such as Dining Services will keep the Accutime swiping system to record hours. Every clock used on campus to track work hours will be replaced with a Bowdoin-customized one from Workday, with a built in “B” button for entering student IDs.
In preparing students, faculty and staff for Workday, the Workday Implementation Team is hosting a series of open lab demos to walk people through the website. The first of the series, the Workday Overview session, was yesterday. The next overview session will be Wednesday, December 16 in Moulton Union’s Lancaster Lounge from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. The Implementation Team is also offering more specialized open lab demos for the many different functions of Workday. The schedule for the demos is available at bowdoin.edu/workday. HR will also offer training for employees as they return from Winter Break.
Bias Incident Display in Union raises awareness of racial issues on campus
In an attempt to generate awareness of racial issues on campus, the African American Society (Af-Am) put up a Bias Incident Display in Smith Union on Friday, November 20. The display—a poster with stories of student experiences—aims to bring to light the often under-discussed and overlooked microaggressions that minority groups are subject to routinely at Bowdoin.
The idea for the display originated when Mariam Nimaga ’17, a member of the Af-Am board and head of Af-Am’s Activism Committee, attended a meeting with President Clayton Rose, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster and other Af-Am board members as well as leaders from various multicultural groups on campus. The meeting was held in response to October’s “Gangster Party” incident and the campus-wide discussions surrounding race that followed.
“People shared their stories, and these were stories I didn’t know about, Rose didn’t know about and Foster didn’t know about,” said Nimaga. “I realized that people’s stories should be known.”
The stories display a range of reports of race, religion and sexuality-based offenses both on and off campus.
“I’m hoping that this [display] will expose to students, faculty and staff that students are going through these bias incidents. Even though they might not report it, it’s still happening on campus,” said Nimaga.
While some stories recount various slurs shouted from passing cars in Brunswick, others tell of bias incidents among students, staff and faculty. One story describes an encounter when a white staff member asked a black student whether or not the use of the n-word in a song was appropriate. The student said no, and the staff member sang the song regardless.
Two of the stories report Bowdoin Security stopping and questioning students of color and requesting to see their student IDs while the students were on campus.
Another recounts a sexual encounter during which the author felt “fetishized and unsafe” because the man she was with would repeatedly ask her if she were a lesbian, as he had seen her name on the OutPeers list.
“I repeatedly told him no…[he] was fixated on my queerness,” the story read.
One story explained, “Telling the stories and incidents that have happened to me on campus cannot begin to describe the pain I feel inside.”
This display is the first of its kind at the College. Each story was anonymously submitted through a survey that Nimaga shared with members of Af-Am, the Women’s Resource Center, the Africa Alliance and the College’s multicultural coalition.
“These students are probably not comfortable reporting them, or they just deal with them because they happen so often,” said Nimaga.
The Bias Incident Display will be up in the Union for three weeks.
“A lot of students do feel that here at Bowdoin, we’re just studying, everything is great, but these things do happen,” Nimaga said.
The display was not the College’s only response to bias incident events on campus. The College’s Bias Incident Group, composed of students and faculty and chaired by Rose, is now working to outline specific procedures for how the school can most appropriately respond to different types of bias incidents. According to an email from the group sent to students, faculty and staff on November 24, the group plans to define this protocol within the first two weeks of the spring semester.
All members of the Bowdoin community are encouraged to send ideas and comments for the Bias Incident Group to email@example.com before winter break. The group plans to have a proposal for bias incident protocol in the first two weeks of the new semester.
To be at home in all lands and all ages: Art Museum embodies College’s offer
“To be at home in all lands and all ages” is more than just a familiar mantra to Bowdoin students—it introduces a promise to members of the College community upon their entry here. On Thursday, November 5, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art opened its newest exhibit to the public, “To Count Art an Intimate Friend,” which brings the promise in William Dewitt Hyde’s 1906 Offer of the College to life. Through expository, dynamic and exciting works from the Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibit both honors and analyzes this mission statement by which we are intended to live, forcing viewers to think deeply about the Offer’s presence on campus.
Curated by Joachim Homann, the exhibition centers on the College’s core values, according to the Offer: sense of place, celebration of nature, appreciation of others’ work, uninhibited creative expression and working toward the common good.
“It’s a really wonderful guide through our collections, because for many years, people here at the Museum have been collecting art to benefit the campus,” said Homann. “So they of course reflect different perspectives and learning goals that are characteristics of the Bowdoin education.”
The curatorial staff worked quickly and deftly to bring the plans to fruition in order “to welcome a new president to the college, and many new members of the administration, as well as a whole new generation of students,” according to Homann. The gestation period for exhibits at the Museum is typically one year at minimum. However, plans for this installation first materialized early this summer.
The installation showcases a range of works, drawing from the Museum’s Old Master collection of drawings and paintings as well as more contemporary, multimedia pieces and photographs.
“It is a great joy to bring out pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection, which is global in scope and goes back 3,000, 4,000 years,” said Museum Co-Director Frank Goodyear. “It’s great to then put them in different thematic groupings to see how works from across time and many different renditions can intersect with one another.”
As each gallery conveys a different theme from the Offer, the exhibit easily conveys the diversity of the permanent collection. While the Halford Gallery explores nature and human relationships to nature, the next, Center Gallery, displays artistic expressions of social, economic and political differences as a means of challenging standards.
Among these pieces include a drawing by contemporary New Haven artist Titus Kaphar, who has rendered four different portraits of racially-biased police brutality victims Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown as one.
“[Titus Kaphar’s piece] is hopefully going to be at the center of a larger discussion about race and diversity here at Bowdoin but obviously beyond as well,” said Goodyear. According to Homann, viewers are drawn to the works in this exhibit because “they are painted in a strange way that seems to go beyond what we immediately recognize.” Homann, who first proposed the idea for this exhibit, values that “it’s not a show that is unifying or glossing over differences,” but rather “respecting each other’s backgrounds and perspectives and finding shared goals.”
Among the works in the final gallery of the show are different interpretations, some more contentious than others, of the American flag, demonstrating in the Offer urging students “to cooperate with others for common ends.”
“This show gives us an opportunity to test the ways in which art can enable us to engage conversations about sensitive and important topics both near and far,” said Museum Co-Director Anne Goodyear. “It reflects back on Bowdoin’s history, but also gives us the tools to think far beyond Bowdoin with respect to foreign lands and even questions of political activism."
Since coming to Bowdoin in 2010, Homann has worked on two other exhibits, “Printmaking ABC” and “The Object Show,” that he deems similar to this one in that they also utilized the permanent collection to celebrate the College and the value it places on community, academic inquiry and art.
“One of the things that I find most moving about Bowdoin College is that art has literally always been at the center of a Bowdoin education,” said Anne Goodyear. “Art represents one of those portals onto the great big world around us, which is why we think education is so important. It gives us the tools and the resources to not only engage with our immediate community but to recognize how our immediate community might be a microcosm for a much wider world.”
“To Count Art an Intimate Friend: Highlights from Bowdoin Collections 1794 to Present” will be on display through June 5, 2016.
Campus planning committee convenes to discuss renewal of campus master plan
The campus planning committee convened for the first time this year to discuss the renewal of the campus master plan with Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). The firm worked with the College on the upgrades of the first year bricks in 2007 as well as the construction of West and Osher Halls in 2005. The college last updated the master plan in 2011.
The committee is comprised of members of the faculty, staff, administration and student representatives Grace Butler ’16 and Kevin Hernandez ’18.
The committee first analyzes the existing plan, contextualizing it with the current needs of campus.
“We have to check in and make sure that that’s still what we want, if it fits the needs of the college and everybody who’s living in it,” said Butler. “We get to provide input and it’s the fun, qualitative side of the process.”
In these initial stages of the renewal process, the committee and SOM also envision what the needs of the campus will look like in five, 10 and 15 years.
“What do we want to do to remain a preeminent, deeply relevant, very special liberal arts college? That necessarily is going to challenge us to ask questions about what it is we’ll do in the classroom, how we’ll learn, what kind of learning spaces we’ll want to have,” said President Clayton Rose.
SOM—whose other projects include One World Trade Center in Manhattan and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, as well as other internationally prominent buildings and several college and high school campuses—works with the committee to “take a step back and look at the big picture,” according to Butler.
“[We consider] what are our values as a community and how does that translate into the built environment,” she said.
Rose visited the firm in June of this year to meet the architects.
“One of the interesting things I learned is that a great architect and a great architectural firm does not think about buildings per say,” Rose said. “What they think about is what is your intellectual mission, what are your culture and values and what is it about physical space that enhances that and makes that possible and strengthens it.”
According to Butler, the committee approaches these broader questions by first gauging “a sense of what it is that people who use the campus want out of it, and how to make a plan and a statement of what the campus should look like moving forward.”
Members of the committee contribute their own perceptions of the needs of the campus, as well as their impressions of what the Bowdoin community needs from the campus.
“I’m supposed to have a sense of what the whole student body wants,” said Butler. “I don’t know the whole of the student body. There is talk of getting together a student group, but that hasn’t been established yet.”
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Katy Longley has collaborated with SOM since President Barry Mills renewed the College’s contract with them in 2003. Now, the firm is adjusting to working with a new Bowdoin president.
“We haven’t engaged [SOM] yet—that was an exploratory meeting and now they’re putting a scope document together and we have to figure out if it aligns with what Clayton wants,” Longley said.
According to Longley, the first plan must be submitted in time for the meeting of the Board of Trustees in October 2016.
“They’ll be back, we will engage conversations with students, faculty and staff and trustees and alumni and this will be part of a broader conversation that we will begin sometime next year about our aspirations and priorities for the future,” said Rose.