Behind the Name tag: Italian Teaching Fellow finds valuable lessons in her teaching experiences
Italian Teaching Fellow Angela Lavecchia’s passion for learning foreign languages—she knows four in total—has turned into a passion for teaching them. She has used her linguistic skills to learn more about other cultures as well as to develop her own ideologies regarding immigration in the various countries where she has lived.
Originally from a small town in Southern Italy, Lavecchia worked as a teaching fellow at Bowdoin during the 2014-15 academic year. Upon returning to Italy, she taught Italian and English to immigrants for a year before she had the opportunity to return to Bowdoin once again as a teaching fellow. After this year, she hopes to attend graduate school in America and then continue her teaching career.
“Coming to Bowdoin [for the first time], I was not really convinced that I wanted to teach,” she said. “But then when I was here, I discovered that it was really something I wanted to do, so it has kind of changed my life.”
Lavecchia believes that teachers can learn a great deal about themselves through teaching.
“I like the exchange,” she said. “That you’re not just telling people how to do things or teaching them but you also learn a lot about yourself and about people and how to behave with different people, so it’s really something that opens your mind. It can change you a lot.”
Lavecchia believes that international teaching fellows are a valuable resource for Bowdoin students.
She said that the people she has met over the course of her studies have changed her life by presenting her with opportunities for study that she would not have considered before. As a teacher she hopes to do for her students what her teachers have done for her.
“Studying is important not only to get a good job, or a well-paid job but just for yourself, for you own enrichment,” she said, regarding one of the many lessons she hopes to pass on to her students.
Lavecchia attended a linguistic high school where she took courses in French, German, English and Italian. She found a passion and pursued Arabic and comparative literature at an Italian university.
“I [chose] Arabic because I wanted to study something that was really different from my own culture,” said Lavecchia. “It was a time when, because of the terrorism, we always heard things about Islam and Muslims and extremism, so I was puzzled,” she said.
She explained that she wanted to learn more about Islamic culture in order to gain a new perspective.
“I was like … there must be something we’re not talking about. There must be something we don’t get to know about,” she said. “I have discovered a whole world, and that helped me to have more respect, and that also helped me to try to get as [much] information as I can, [to] not [be] satisfied with what [I heard] at first,” she said.
“When you get to study a new language to a certain level, you actually have to change your mind setting,” said Lavecchia. “Even if you don’t really study the culture ... you have to switch to a different system, so it helps you be more open-minded and more flexible.”
Lavecchia has enjoyed having the opportunity to continue her language studies at Bowdoin. She studied Arabic two years ago and she is currently taking a German course.
She added, “I’ve also taken Italian classes here, which might sound strange, but it’s interesting because they study Italian here from a very different perspective, so it gives me a comparative view of my own language and culture and literature.”
If she does not get into an American graduate program, she will return to Italy to continue her work with immigrants.
“The refugee-immigrant situation is difficult in Europe now, but working in these kind of situations, you really [do] something to make integration possible, you know what I mean? It’s like, you don’t only help the immigrants, you also help the people around you to understand what it is like to be a refugee or an immigrant in such a situation.”
When the language school for immigrants first responded to her application to work there, she was nervous about what her job might be like.
“It was challenging at first because I felt like I had a lot of things to do to be good at my job, but then these people, they really wanted to be there. They really wanted to do something to improve their lives, so their attention, their commitment to studying, was amazing, and I’ve learned a lot,” she said.
“There are also exchange programs [for Bowdoin students] to go to France or Italy to teach, and it’s good because maybe students who didn’t think about it, [when] they come to our classes, they see that our experience here is so good, and they feel like they want to do that … so they think like, I can go abroad, work, improve my language skills and also travel.”
Studying foreign languages has encouraged Lavecchia to be open-minded.
“There’s always more … If you know more, you can get new perspectives. You can really get your own idea without being too influenced by what everybody says.
Cold War party will continue without wall
MacMillan House and Quinby House will co-host their annual Cold War party this Saturday, despite the Inter-House Council (IHC) Executive Committee’s recommendation to cancel the event. The party, held annually, features MacMillan as the Soviet Union and Quinby as the United States. In past years, students have constructed a wall out of snow between the two houses, but members agreed not to construct a wall this year because they deemed it inappropriate given the discourse about walls in current American politics.
Tessa Westfall ’18, President of the IHC and former member of MacMillan, said that the IHC objected to the party theme based on the recent actions of the Trump administration.
“The goal of the Houses is to serve campus,” said Westfall. “A lot of people on this campus are directly affected by new executive orders … that the presidential administration is performing, [so] I think that a performative nationalism party is not in the best interest of campus.”
Officers from the executive committee, who lead the IHC, offered their opinion to the IHC, which includes the vice president and programming director from each College House. However, the Houses themselves were ultimately responsible for deciding whether to hold the party.
Last Thursday, MacMillan House hosted a discussion in order to receive student input on its intention to have the party.
“We said ‘hey, we’re thinking about doing Cold War, what are the thoughts of the campus?’ And if there was enough concern, if we found people were seriously upset about it, we were definitely interested in changing the theme,” said Michael Lee ’19, vice president of MacMillan. “No one came to that talk, so we were like, ‘Alright, we’re going to go through with it.’”
According to Quinby House Vice President Jon Luke Tittmann ’19, only members of MacMillan and Quinby attended the discussion, although the small turnout may have resulted from a lack of advertising.
“For me, the most compelling argument against having the party was that America stands for a lot of different things now, due to the political climate, than it did a couple months ago, and some of those things are … negative things that attack people’s identities,” said Tittmann. “And so the idea of having a lot of drunk people in a college basement chanting ‘USA’ might inherently seem exclusive to people who think America stands for something that is not inclusive right now.”
But Tittmann suggested that the party will not necessarily have a negative effect.
“However, it’s also dangerous to assume that people will feel that that’s exclusive,” said Tittmann. “It’s hard to choose whether or not we should have this party, I think, because so many people identify themselves and identify what America means to them in such different ways. So my idea is that we should throw the party but … have a really mindful party and try to be as inclusive as possible.”
Kinaya Hassane ’19, a member of MacMillan, was not concerned by the party’s theme and supports the Houses’ mutual decision to host the event.
“As someone who is personally affected by the election of Donald Trump and whose family will be affected by the policies that he wants to put in place, a Cold War party, which is obviously supposed to be satirical and funny, is really small in terms of the scale of things that I could be hurt by with respect to things that Donald Trump could actually do as president,” Hassane said.
Following their discussions, MacMillan and Quinby decided to discontinue the tradition of building a snow wall between the two houses this year.
“I think walls stand for a lot of things this year that they didn’t stand for last year, and in previous years,” said Tittmann. “And so the question is, again, do we need the wall? If we have the wall, would that imply certain inherently exclusive ideologies and things like that?”
“In the actual party, I don’t think the wall is going to make that much of a difference, so I think that’s an actionable thing that we can get rid of to make the party seem more inclusive,” he added.
This is not the first time that the Cold War party’s theme has been a topic of discussion.
“I’ve always found the party to be questionable, especially two years ago when I was living in Mac, just because it is based off of a war,” said Mitsuki Nishimoto ’17, Quinby House proctor. “It’s not really something to celebrate, and I always thought that there were better ways to showcase this rivalry between Mac and Quinby.”
Nonetheless, Nishimoto was pleased with the conversations that led to the Houses’ choice.
“Ultimately, I want it to be the Houses’ decision, and I think it was really great that a lot of critical conversations came out of the planning.”
Jessica Piper contributed to this report.
BSG considers impact of class
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) members proposed an event to promote conversations about socioeconomic class on Bowdoin’s campus. The suggestion, which was discussed at Wednesday’s BSG meeting, was prompted by a study from the Equality of Opportunity Project republished in the New York Times two weeks ago, which disclosed the socioeconomic composition of the Bowdoin student body.
“I think something we’ve talked about a lot is an interest in trying to help facilitate a conversation on class that isn’t happening at Bowdoin at all,” said BSG President Harriet Fisher ’17. “I think that this report is something people are already talking about and it would be a really good jumping-off point.”
Fisher informed BSG that several BSG members would soon be meeting with three economics professors and a member of the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good who are interested in helping to plan the discussion. She also asked for input concerning the format and topics of the proposed event.
Representative At-Large Ural Mishra ’20 presented the results of his meeting with Doris Santoro, chair of the education department, who suggested that BSG facilitate an event in which a panel of professors discuss their experiences of socioeconomic class in college.
Members shared their ideas for facilitating discussion about class, including incorporating an event into first-year orientation and training student leaders to facilitate discussion within their clubs.
“For me the goals would be … making sure that we recognize as an institution the kind of costs that students are incurring to make sure that in the ways we can support students, we are,” said Fisher. “I think we could think about socioeconomic programming events that would raise all of our literacy and language around what kind of class privileges we all exist within and what other people might not have and how we can … be thoughtful of people.”
Following the discussion, nine members volunteered to form an ad hoc committee to continue work planning and programming on the topic.
BSG also discussed providing funding and transportation for students to attend protests. Last week, Multicultural Representative Victoria Pitaktong ’17 started a Facebook group to help coordinate transportation to local protests. Entertainment Board Liaison to BSG Maggie Rose ’17, though, questioned the administration’s role in informing students about protests.
“I would love if Bowdoin would be more on top of it and more engaging and more motivating, making the school and the students more aware of what’s going on in protests, rather than just BSG saying ‘we can provide vans,’” she said.
College caps off-campus housing for '17-'18 year
The College will not allow more than 200 students to live off campus next year, after 217 students lived off campus this academic year. The cap marks Bowdoin’s first attempt to regulate off-campus housing numbers. The College was one of only two NESCAC schools that did not regulate off-campus housing, despite having the second-highest percentage of students living off campus.
The change comes in response to the steady upward trend in the number of students living off-campus. Over the past three years, the College has seen a 56 percent increase in the number of upperclass students living off campus. Today, nearly a third of Bowdoin seniors—and about 12 percent of the total student body— live off campus, according to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster.
The College’s decision to limit off-campus housing also stemmed from cultural and financial factors. Housing for the academic year costs $6,356; the College loses that money when students choose to live off campus and beds are left empty.
Foster said limiting the number of students who live off campus also allows the community to address the meaning of Bowdoin as a residential college.
Students who signed leases before January 12, the day Foster informed students that a limit would be enforced, automatically have permission to live off campus during the 2017-18 academic year. All other students must apply for permission from Residential Life (ResLife) before signing a lease.
The new limit will serve as a placeholder while the College develops a new housing policy and considers the condition of and possible improvements to existing upperclass housing, according to Foster. The College plans to solicit feedback from the campus community to inform this process.
Aside from Tufts, Bowdoin is currently the only NESCAC school without an off-campus housing policy in place. Williams, Trinity and Bates are among the schools that cap the number of students allowed to live off campus, while schools such as Wesleyan and Connecticut College do not allow students to live off campus.
Some students were frustrated by the timing of the policy. Sophomore Lenoir Kelley had already begun talking to a landlord about off-campus housing for her senior year, which is not an uncommon practice among sophomores.
“[My friends and I have] been kind of frustrated that the school has suddenly implemented this policy, and we just feel like it’s a little bit of an overreach on ResLife’s part,” she said.
Kelley is concerned that her friends may not be able to live in the house they had planned on for senior year, despite having already made moves to sign a lease with the landlord. At the same time, she felt the College has been receptive to students’ feelings.
“I’m happy that they’re considering students’ feedback and hopefully moving forward with some alternative on-campus housing options because honestly, for upperclassmen, there are not a lot of great options.”
Lisa Bossi ’87 and her husband, also a Bowdoin alum, have been renting to Bowdoin students for about nine years. She is concerned that the change in policy will make it more difficult to find tenants.
“That is the one concern that we have as landlords, that the timing of this is going to be disruptive for students to make plans,” she said. “We really love the idea of having students in our neighborhood, and the neighbors also really appreciate really good tenants. It’s a really nice way for students to get to learn about certain responsibilities they won’t learn living on campus, and they very often end up with their first reference for their next apartment. So it’s been a really nice situation, and we’re hoping that this new rule doesn’t break the fluidity of the word of mouth.”
Some students choose to live off campus for social reasons. Jodi Kraushar ’17, who currently lives off campus, said she prefers the off-campus social space.
“As I got older ... I was feeling like it would be really nice to have my own space ... and I think that’s a really great benefit of living off campus, especially as a woman, in a house with other women, and we can just sort of have spaces that feel really comfortable for ourselves,” she said. “I don’t think there [is] really any upperclassman housing that’s conducive to that kind of social setting like ours is.”
She believes that the regulations of Bowdoin’s social scene encourage some students to seek alternative living arrangements.
“I think there have been policies like alcohol policies [and] party registration policies that have made students feel like Bowdoin is even more confining and maybe hand-holding than they want,” she said.
Kraushar hopes the College will improve senior housing, but she acknowledged the difficulties involved in this task.
Professor of Cinema Studies Tricia Welsch, who has worked as a College House advisor for 15 years, thinks that restricting the number of students living off campus would be beneficial for both the College and the surrounding community. She believes that the upperclassman practice of living off campus detracts from the College’s social climate.
“The plan was for the College House system to be a real center and hub for academic and extracurricular life, and while it works that way for students who are first years and sophomores ... the seniors really aren’t coming back into life at Bowdoin anymore, not in the way that they used to do,” she said. “I think increased numbers of students living off campus really diminishes that sense of possible community.”
Welsch lives next door to a house rented annually by students and says that college students do not tend to make the best neighbors.
“I made a lot of noise when I was a student too. It’s what you do. You’re not a good neighbor because it’s not your time to be a good neighbor,” she said. “I do think that at least some students try very hard to be good neighbors and want to be good neighbors ... but you know, they’re not homeowners. They don’t live like permanent residents live, and it’s not just quiet. [There] is trash, upkeep of buildings. It’s all kinds of things.”
Welsch commended the College for taking steps to regulate the number of students living off campus and believes such steps will ultimately be better for relations between the College and the town.
“Most of the places that are desirable around campus are historic homes where people are attached to the College in one way or another or have a long-standing interest in the College and seeing it thrive. The idea of making an adversarial relationship out of that is not good,” she said. “If the College now can do something that will limit that, that’s good for the College as well, the College as an institution in this town.”
Students express disappointment with Kristof, Riley discussion
Columnists Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal and Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times spoke about ideological diversity on college campuses and its effect on freedom of speech before a crowd of students and community members on Monday evening. Although President Clayton Rose and the committee of students and faculty who planned the event designed it with the intention of opening up “vigorous discussion” on “difficult critical issues” and allowing students to hear different perspectives, many students felt that the speakers did not strongly challenge each other’s viewpoints and did not sufficiently address issues of free speech with reference to colleges like Bowdoin.
“I’ve heard from other people (including myself) that we wish that the two speakers were more at odds with each other or more at odds with the beliefs that we held as [individuals],” said Laura Griffee ’17. “I definitely think that each of the speakers did bring up interesting points here and there, but I think overall I wanted to re-evaluate my views in some ways, and I don’t know if this discussion necessarily did that.”
The event, entitled “Up for Discussion: Political Correctness and Free Speech on College Campuses,” was organized by a small working group of students, faculty and staff last fall. The topic was determined based on the results of a survey of Bowdoin students last December. Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies Connie Chiang moderated the discussion.
Both Kristof and Riley agreed that colleges often do not expose students to enough ideological diversity, but somewhat disagreed about who should be responsible for increasing this diversity of thought.
“I do think that there is a problem that American universities tend to be particularly liberal places, and often don’t adequately expose students to conservative viewpoints,” Kristof said. “I believe in embracing diversity of races, of ethnicities, of religions and also of ideologies, and I think that … we’ve sometimes neglected that issue of ideological diversity. I fear that the Trump election may compound that in the next four years, as each side becomes more polarized.”
Riley expressed a similar sentiment.
“[The mission of the College should be] to get kids out of their comfort zone, allow them to develop their critical thinking skills, argue with people, debate people, learn that saying ‘I’m offended’ shouldn’t end an argument … learn how to analyze an issue from different points of view, because I don’t think you’re doing the kids any favors by letting them exist in this bubble,” said Riley.
Riley added that he feels the responsibility for lack of ideological diversity falls on faculty and administrators.
“These kids feel intimidated into silence through the environment, and I place the emphasis really on the adults running the campus that have allowed such a hostile environment for people who hold different perspectives,” Riley said. “If you want to be exposed to different points of view, have forums like this. Invite conservatives on campus to speak and expose kids to different points of view.”
To this point, he argued that colleges need to encourage liberal professors to teach objectively.
“There are some conservatives that say … we need to hire more conservative professors to counterbalance the liberal professors,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s the way to go. I’d rather we hire people to keep their politics out of the classroom.”
Kristof suggested that all individuals have a role to play in seeking out ideological diversity.
“I think work should begin at every possible end,” Kristof said. “Whether we are students or faculty or adults in the community, [we] can try to … open ourselves to information sources that we deeply disagree with.”
Student reactions to the event were mixed, and many expressed frustration or disappointment. Many hoped for more disagreement and debate between the speakers.
“I felt as though at some places of the conversation it was superficial to some extent,” said Mohamed Nur ’19. “It could have been more confrontational, it could have taken more risks, but I think overall it was good. It was good to hear different viewpoints and opinions and I think that helps us as a campus and as a community make progress.”
Other attendees commented on the lack of specificity in the discussion. Neither speaker nor the moderator addressed free speech at Bowdoin specifically.
“I was very frustrated, especially considering what happened last year with all those incidences … that the moderator did not bring up the issue of cultural appropriation,” said Hailey Wozniak ’20. “Both the journalists seemed to just kind of be repeating the same things and speaking kind of vaguely.”
Although Wozniak said the talk could have been improved, she expressed gratitude toward the speakers.
“It was still very incredible to have them both come,” she said.
Rebkah Tesfamariam ’18, a member of the committee that organized the event, was satisfied with the outcome.
“The goal of a conversation doesn’t have to be everybody changing their personal views or everybody agreeing, but somehow coming to a mutual understanding that there are valid different points of views,” Tesfamariam said. “Also to give people the space to hear different perspectives that they may not hear on campus already, and I think both of those goals were achieved for sure.”
“They both sort of seemed to punt on questions about sort of addressing issues with universities specifically, which seemed bizarre given that that was essentially what this was supposed to be about,” said Alex Vasile ’16. “It was just not enough going on for me. Sort of a shallow almost like introduction, and you’d think with all the time and effort that went to putting this event together … It seems like we should have come out with a little bit more.”
Chiang asked questions to the columnists for the first 45 minutes of the event. During the final 30 minutes, the speakers responded to questions from students in the audience. After the discussion in Pickard Theater, about 200 students discussed the event in small groups in Thorne, joined by Kristof and Riley.
Many students responded positively to this post-event discussion.
“I think that it was really constructive having this talk after,” Griffee said. “I think the other students and I came to the conclusion that the entire campus needs to be forced to talk about this … I think that people on campus are just not talking to one another and we need to hear what each other has to say, and I think that that’s something that I got and am excited about and want to figure out a way to make that happen.”
“I think that a lot of the conversations I had with students afterwards were really productive,” she said. “I sat at a table where a lot of different points of views were brought up, and it was a really comfortable conversation … I think that we were all very respectful of each other, and I think that that was a really good example of how we should be conducting conversation all the time.”
The WOMEN OF ’75: Competing against tradition
The Orient article announcing Bowdoin’s first-ever women’s sports team is a tiny blurb titled “Hockey Jockettes” tucked away on the third page of the October 15, 1971 issue. It announces the creation of the field hockey team, which was coached by Sally LaPointe—the wife of Bowdoin’s Lacrosse Coach Mortimer LaPointe—on a voluntary basis.
Celeste Johnson ’75 and Stephanie Monaghan ’75, members of Bowdoin’s first coeducational class, both played on this first field hockey team, which was as "ad hoc" as Bowdoin’s first coeducation committees.
“I think they kind of never thought about the idea that girls need uniforms, so we ended up being given the boys’ soccer uniforms,” said Johnson in a phone interview with the Orient.
Women in their class also had options for getting involved in Bowdoin’s “physical education” and “free play” programs. According to Edward Coombs, the acting director of athletics, Modern dance, tennis and swimming, were popular with women during the fall of 1971. In terms of participation in Intramural and Intercollegiate programs, he chose to “adopt a ‘wait and see’ policy,” he wrote in his annual report to Shirley Gray, Chairman of the Committee on Physical Education-Athletics.
Women were also welcome to play in the interfraternity “White Key” teams. A November 1, 1974 Orient article called “Out of the Kitchen: Females Possess the Key” reports on women participating in the interfraternity sports.
“I can’t think of anything where we got told that we were asking for too much,” said Johnson. “It would probably be Sally [LaPointe] pushing the envelope for trying to get us more.”
Bowdoin’s Athletic Department was more prepared for the arrival of women than some other areas of the college, such as health services.
The 1971 annual report of the Committee on Athletics budgeted $9,000 to providing private showers and facilities for a women’s locker room. These changes would be made in time for the incoming Class of 1975. A later request would add hairdryers to the locker room, but the College purchased salon-style over-the-head hair dryers that the women found completely inconvenient.
“There was one time when I was changing in the locker room and a male coach walked straight through the women’s locker room,” said Christa Cornell ’75, who ran recreationally at Bowdoin, in a phone interview with the Orient. “So I went to protest—I had to protest a lot of things.”
Cornell said she spoke to the head of the Athletic Department and his reply was that the coaches are used to the old locker room layout and that she should be careful in case he does it again.
Although the 1971 Report saw no need for an increase in the size of the Athletics staff, the June 1972 report of President Howell’s special Commission on Athletics did see a need.
The President’s Commission wrote that “it is evident that the present staff will not be able to meet the needs of a steadily increasing number of women students.” At the time, the Athletic Department’s female staff consisted of Sally LaPointe in a voluntary coaching position and June Vail, an instructor of modern dance and the wife of an economics professor.
The Commission also designated a $5,000 fund for women’s sports for the 1972-73 year.“The women students have been most reasonable in their requests. It is imperative that maximum flexibility be built into any programs so that the interests of the women students can guide the scope and direction of those programs as they evolve,” stated the Commission’s report.
A March 13, 1973 memo to President Howell from Coombs and Dean of the College LeRoy Greason claims that the Commission’s recommendation to add a woman to the Athletics’ staff full-time “has not yet been implemented,” citing “budgetary considerations” and “a desire to wait for a clearer sense of direction in programs of particular interest to women.”
A September 21, 1973 Orient article counts LaPointe as a new member of Bowdoin’s staff, as Coach of the Women’s Athletic Program, shifting her coaching from volunteer to a formalized position.
Later that semester, an Orient article reported on the seven Bowdoin women’s sports teams, most of which were organized informally and faced challenges such as having only a few opponents—the team would play against the Brunswick Women’s Recreational Center and Brunswick High School. Director of Admissions Dick Merserau was voluntarily coaching the women’s basketball team at the time.
In 1976, the College hired Lynn Ruddy as an Assistant Coach. During that school year, a September 17 Orient article reported that 42 percent of women were involved in athletics. In this article LaPointe cited Title IX as a reason for the growing number of female athletes at Bowdoin, since they arrived at the College with athletic training from secondary school.
It is important to note that although Title IX, part of the U.S. Education Amendments, was passed in 1972, LaPointe and Ruddy claimed it did not greatly affect the operation of the Athletics Department at Bowdoin. In an Orient article on October 8, 1976, Ruddy said this was because much of Title IX deals with athletic scholarships, which aren’t awarded at Bowdoin.
“Here, Title IX is irrelevant,” said Ruddy.
However, Monaghan saw things differently.
“Title IX had gone through, so the College was scared to death about doing something wrong,” she said, referring to the College’s eagerness to accommodate women in athletics.
At the end of that academic year, LaPointe wrote to President Howell in a 1976-77 report that “the female population has risen to over 500, we are trying to handle twelve intercollegiate programs with two full time people while there are twenty-one intercollegiate programs for men with nine full time coaches and a few part timers. I have never felt the need for increasing the help for the women as I have this year.”
In 1979, the women’s indoor track team echoed this need. Team members wrote to the Athletic Director and Deans of the College asking for a separate coach for the women’s track team who can “devote his or her time to their needs.” Today, there is still one head coach for the men’s and women’s teams. However, the team has three other assistant coaches—including Ruddy, hired in 1976, who now coaches high jump and sprint—as well as volunteer coaches.
But in the years between 1971 and today, women have helped to shape a strong athletics department. LaPointe went on to coach for 20 years at the College and died in 2007.
Now, women play 16 varsity sports and three club sports at the College. However, the legacy of an all-male institution lives on. A November 11 Orient article reports that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) found a decreasing gap in the salaries of male and female head coaches throughout the league, although that gap still exists.
Sports for women at Bowdoin today take on a different role, in a balanced gender ratio college setting, than the early teams. For the first coeducational classes, women’s teams were an important refuge from the overwhelmingly male environment of the College.
“When we were out there playing field hockey, we were just elated to be able to have this opportunity to come together around a goal … it was just all us [women],” said Johnson. “As soon as the game was over, we were back in the world where it was the 10-1 ratio again … There was a lot of happiness and camaraderie … I think that was something that we really all cherished.”
Julia O’Rourke ’19 contributed to this report.
Consent Week programs well-attended but met with critique
Bowdoin’s annual Consent Week, organized by the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), provoked controversy this week with its poster campaign concerning consent and alcohol.
Some students took issue with the posters, which featured images of drinks and slogans such as “Consent is more clear when you haven’t had a beer.”
“I had an issue with them when I saw them because to me, [the posters] very much seem to imply that alcohol is responsible for sexual assault, as opposed to saying something like alcohol is one component that … might impact how sexual assaults happen,” said Rachel Baron ’17.
Emily Saldich ’17 expressed a similar criticism.
“They were all about alcohol and maybe blamed the victim a little bit,” said Saldich. “I thought that was pretty problematic, and I thought it took some responsibility away from … perpetrators of sexual assault.”
The poster campaign is just one feature of a week of events organized by ASAP. According to ASAP member Madeline Hall ’17, each event is designed to achieve a specific goal and to provide a different outlook on consent.
ASAP is an umbrella organization made up of representatives from many student groups that work to promote safe and healthy relationships.
“I think it’s important to know that ASAP [is a] very diverse group on campus,” said Hall. “We pull from a bunch of different spheres of campus … and so we have a lot of different opinions and different experiences and backgrounds within the group. We really do try and make … all the programs different, so we try and reach a bunch of different people.”
This year is the first year that Consent Week has occurred in the fall rather than the spring. According to Hall, the motivation for the change is to inform first years of the necessity of consent from the beginning of their time at Bowdoin and because consent is an essential component of healthy relationships. Date Week, an ASAP program typically held in November, will be held in the spring instead.
The name of the program transitioned away from “Consent Is Sexy” last year.
“[Consent] doesn’t have to be sexy, it just has to happen, and it’s a necessary part of a healthy relationship,” said Hall.
Still, the goal of Consent Week remains the same.
“I think the main idea … is to create buzz on campus about the importance of consent,” said Hall. “I think it’s really important that we don’t have any gray area.”
Consent Week began on Monday with a “consensual cupcake bar” in Thorne Hall. ASAP members decorated cupcakes for participating students by engaging them in a consensual dialogue and encouraging them to ask for the toppings they wanted.
“It’s always known on Bowdoin’s campus that people are so busy, and some people that don’t necessarily directly insert [themselves] into these conversations can easily miss Consent Week,” said Hall. “So what’s nice about the consensual cupcake bar is that it’s at dinner, so it’s going to target a ton of people.”
Events have been ongoing through the week. On Tuesday, 30 students participated in a disclosure training in order to learn how to respond to someone who discloses a personal experience such as sexual assault.
Today, Eric Barthold—a Colby College graduate who speaks about toxic masculinity at colleges across the nation—will facilitate a discussion called “Redefining ‘Manly.’” Students who identify as male are invited to participate in this conversation about sexual assault prevention in Ladd House from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
ELECTION 2016: Maine issues: 4 key ballot referendums
Q1: Should Maine legalize recreational marijuana?
If passed, Question 1 will allow individuals over the age of 21 to use and possess recreational marijuana. In addition, the measure would provide for the regulation of marijuana as an agricultural product, permitting licensed marijuana retail facilities and enacting a 10 percent sales tax.
Medical marijuana was first legalized in Maine in 1999. However, repeated attempts to legalize recreational marijuana within the state have been unsuccessful. This year, recreational marijuana measures will also appear on ballots in Arizona, California, Massachusetts and Nevada.
According to a poll by the Portland Press Herald in early October, 53 percent of Maine voters support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
What is the case for legalization?
Supporters of the measure, including Matt Schweich ’09, Director of State Campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project, cite economic benefits such as increased tax revenue and creation of jobs. Schweich called the legalization of recreational marijuana a “social justice issue,” arguing that moving marijuana out of the unregulated market and into regulated business would work against drug-policing policies that disproportionately impact people of color.
Who opposes it?
Critics of the referendum argue that the measure does not include adequate preparations to regulate marijuana after it becomes legal. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has argued that the phrasing of the law would also legalize the possession of marijuana by minors.
In a letter to the Portland Press Herald, Stephanie Anderson, district attorney of Cumberland County, argued that Question 1 would create a “profit-driven [marijuana] industry” in the midst of an already overwhelming substance abuse public health crisis. Furthermore, she wrote that the Department of Agriculture is not experienced enough to create an adequate regulatory system, and costs generated by the law will surpass the tax revenue it generates.
How would this impact Bowdoin students?
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Orient, marijuana is the most commonly used drug on Bowdoin’s campus. The results showed that 58 percent of respondents had smoked marijuana “at least once to a few times” at Bowdoin, while 31 percent reported smoking “every month or two” or “weekly or more.” The survey found a slight increase in marijuana use on campus since a previous survey, distributed five semesters earlier.
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster declined to comment prior to the election on how and whether the College’s policy toward marijuana would change if the drug was legalized.
Q3: Should Maine require background checks for gun transfers between non-licensed dealers?
Question 3 asks Maine citizens if they want to require background checks before a sale or transfer of firearms between people who are not licensed dealers.
The law is aimed at further regulating the secondary gun market and stipulates that if neither party is licensed, they both must meet with a licensed dealer, who will conduct a background check on the transferee. Exceptions include if the firearm is used in emergency self-defense, if both parties are hunting or sport shooting together and if the transfer is to a family member.
Who supports Question 3?
The referendum is supported by political heavyweights, most notably former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety has donated over $1.7 million to the cause.
At a debate on Question 3 held by Quinby House on October 27, Associate Professor of Government Jeffrey Selinger and Gary M. Pendy Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarborough discussed the costs and benefits of the law. Selinger defended the referendum, hailing its sensibility.
“You don’t always know who you’re selling your gun to,” he said. “The law would just ask that all citizens follow basic regulations for a second sale too.”
Who opposes it?
Twelve of 16 Maine police chiefs as well as the vocal National Rifle Association oppose the referendum. The main argument from the opponents—some of whom are supporters of gun control themselves—is that the law is too difficult to implement and enforce. They claim that since Maine law already prohibits criminals from purchasing firearms, the only people affected by closing the gun show loophole are law-abiding citizens. Others believe that the law will not stop criminals from getting their hands on guns, so this regulation is unnecessary.
Gary M. Pendy Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarborough, who argued in favor of a “No” vote, characterized the law more as an impediment at odds with Maine’s culture that a safety measure.
“If I want to lend my gun to a student who’s going hunting for a weekend, both the student and I would have to go through so many barriers if this referendum is enacted,” she said.
Q4: Should Maine raise the state minimum wage to $12 by 2020?
Question 4 presents an increase of the state minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 in 2017 and increasing by an additional dollar until 2020 when it would reach $12 per hour. The referendum will also increase the minimum tipped laborer wage from $3.75 to $5, increasing by $1 every year until 2024 when it equals the general minimum wage. The state statute would also insure that the minimum wage will continue to rise with fluctuations in the consumer price index, which measures the changes in prices of basic consumer goods and services.
Why raise the minimum wage?
Proponents of raising the minimum wage often point the concept of a “living wage”—the idea that people who work full time jobs ought to earn enough to support their families. Real wages, adjusted for inflation, have remained stagnant across the country in recent years.
“The minimum wage has fallen in real terms, or in inflation adjusted terms. If it was kept to where it was in the early 70s it would be up above $11 an hour,” said William D. Shipman Professor of Economics John Fitzgerald.
Higher wages translates to more expendable income for consumers, which can benefit businesses, as consumers with higher incomes buy more. Increasing the minimum wage might also decrease the number of workers and families dependent on public assistance.
What could go wrong?
The main complaints levied against raising the minimum wage focus on the loss of jobs, rise in prices of basic consumer goods and the impact on small businesses.
If businesses are forced to pay their employees more, companies with thin profit margins might hire less workers. Small businesses in particular would be affected. In 2015, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that over 500,000 jobs would be lost nationally if minimum wage was increased to $10.10.
Opponents also argue that businesses will respond to this wage increase by proportionately increasing prices, which in turn, deters consumers due to inflated costs. Furthermore, price increases could also negate the quality-of-life benefits that low-income earners would receive from higher wages.
How would this impact Bowdoin?
The law would not immediate impact Bowdoin students who work on-campus jobs—all student employees who are paid hourly already receive at least $9 per hour after the College restructured student pay at the beginning of this academic year.
The College, like all employers in the state, would be required to increase wages for hourly employees each year until 2020 in accordance with the law.
Q5: Should Maine institute Ranked Choice Voting?
Question 5 asks Mainers to consider implementing something that no state has done before: Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). By allowing voters to mark candidates on the ballot in order of preference rather than voting for one candidate, RCV would redistribute votes for last-place candidates until a majority is reached.
How does RCV work?
Voters would rank candidates for Maine elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate and State Representative in order of preference on the ballot; if no candidate receives an immediate majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The votes of that candidate’s supporters then count for their second choice candidate. This process continues until a candidate earns the majority.
What are the arguments in favor?
Supporters of this bill—including the Maine Democratic Party, Libertarian Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, the League of Women Voters of Maine and a number of individual Maine politicians—say that this system would eliminate the voting mentality of the “lesser of two evils” and ultimately create less negative and targeted campaigning. They argue a more broadly-liked candidate will be elected, rather than a candidate reaping the benefits of “the spoiler effect,” where the vote splits between two ideologically similar candidates, allowing a third candidate to win by plurality.
Current governor of Maine Paul LePage was elected into office because of split voting—62 percent of the population voted for another candidate—some opponents of RCV argue that the bill is an attempt to get LePage out of office. Out of the 11 last races for governor, nine winners were elected with less than 50 percent of voters; five of those winners were elected with less than 40 percent.
What are the arguments against?
Opponents of the bill—including LePage and a few other individual politicians—point out the cost, ineffectiveness and potential unconstitutionality of implementing RCV.
According to the Maine Office of Fiscal and Program Review, this bill would roughly cost between $600,000 and $800,000 per year for new equipment and necessary resources. Similar costs would persist over the years.
Opponents also worry that the new, “more complex” system of RCV would detract voters, particularly “young voters, African-Americans and those with low levels of education,” according to a Bangor Daily News editorial.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, as well as a number of other people, believes that the bill would be unconstitutional. In a March memo, Mills cited that the Maine constitution allows candidates to win by plurality (whereas RCV focuses on candidates winning by majority) and necessitates municipal officials to count votes, rather than a multiple-round, electronic tallying.
A number of other experts—including courts in four states—disagree with Mills, determining RCV constitutional since it maintains “one person, one vote” and fairly allows the candidate with the most votes to win.
Let's talk about sex: visiting author Rachel Hills busts "the sex myth"
Rachel Hills is changing the way we talk about sex. Through her writing and workshops, she strives to examine cultural narratives about sexuality and how they affect individuals.
On Tuesday night, students gathered in the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity to participate in a workshop led by Hills, a writer and journalist specializing in issues of gender and sexuality. The event, part of Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance’s (BQSA) Out Week, was organized by BQSA president Rayne Sampson ’18.
According to Hills, who is based in New York City, the social implications of sexuality are not often discussed in a meaningful way. Having conversations about sex can break the “sex myth,” or disrupt the idea that there are only a few acceptable ways to experience sexuality.
“We have quite a few conversations on this campus around issues of sexuality ... but a lot of those conversations take place from a very heterosexual and sometimes heterosexist frame of mind and from a very cisgender-focused [frame] of mind,” said Sampson. “We talked a lot with Rachel about how we could work to make this particular event really explicitly inclusive for people who don’t identify as heterosexual and cisgender because that’s a demographic that statistically isn’t represented as much as straight, cisgender people are.”
At the workshop, Hills discussed her recently published book, “The Sex Myth,” which explores what she describes as the “invisible norms and unspoken assumptions” surrounding sex.
“My project ... was to write a book that would look at sexuality not just as a biological phenomenon, but as a sociological phenomenon and a political phenomenon,” said Hills. “The aim of this particular workshop is ... giving people a space to think critically about the messages that they’re hearing about sexuality in their lives and in their communities.”
During the workshop, Hills prompted students to write down the messages they receive in their daily lives about the ways they should and should not engage with sex. The group then discussed these messages and the ways in which they are affected by them.
“Not every person I interviewed felt abnormal or undesirable or defective when it came to their sex lives, but quite a lot of the people I interviewed had felt that way at some point in their lives,” said Hills. “And that’s not just because we live in a society that ... gives us a kind of narrow set of parameters of how we’re supposed to engage with sex. It’s also because we live in a society that tells us that conforming to those parameters is really, really important—that it’s something that makes or breaks our identity or our value as people.”
The goal of Hills’ workshop was two-fold. She hoped that students would leave with a greater sense of peace concerning their own sexual histories and an understanding that they are not alone, even when they perceive their experiences as abnormal. She also hoped to leave students with a greater sense of compassion for people whose experiences are different from their own.
After participating in Hills’ workshop, Maxx Byron ’19 expressed a desire to apply what he had learned to his leadership of The Sex Project. In the future, he hopes to discuss sex from a sociological perspective rather than a solely biological one.
Hills stressed the importance of ongoing conversation.
“I think that [continuing conversations about sex is] important because there is so much misinformation out there around sex,” she said. “I think that having those conversations and having them on an ongoing basis can disrupt that idea that there is one or just a small handful of acceptable ways to engage with sexuality.”
College continues sustainability efforts with eye toward carbon-neutral 2020
Seven years ago, Bowdoin announced its intention to become carbon neutral by 2020. That ambition—which once seemed like a faraway goal—is on track to come to fruition by the time current first-year students graduate.
Keisha Payson, sustainability coordinator for the College, works with the Sustainability Implementation Committee to ensure Bowdoin meets its goal.
“There’s still room for discussion about how we want to approach being carbon neutral in 2020,” said Payson. “We will want to get people’s feedback and decide what is a meaningful way for Bowdoin College to become carbon neutral. There [are] so many different options on renewable energy credits that you can purchase on the open market, and we haven’t made a decision yet what that’s going to look like.”
Purchasing carbon offsets will likely become one aspect of the College’s ongoing plan.
According to the College’s 2015 Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Update, Bowdoin committed to “reducing ‘own-source’ emissions by at least 28 percent over the 12 years between 2008 and 2020, with the understanding that the College would need to purchase carbon offsets in 2020 to achieve the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality.”
As of the end of 2015, the College’s own-source emissions had been reduced by 17 percent compared to 2008, according to the 2015 Inventory Update.
The College continues to take other steps to reduce its carbon footprint. In the past year, LED lights were installed in Studzinski Recital Hall, Pickard Theater and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and steam lines responsible for heating buildings were insulated in more than a dozen mechanical rooms across campus. Buildings not connected to the main steam plant transitioned to natural gas, which is a lower carbon fuel than heating oil. Several college properties were weatherized.
The Roux Center for the Environment, which is slated to open on the corner of Harpswell Road and College Street in the fall of 2018, will be Bowdoin’s first building to conform to the highest Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council, known as LEED Platinum.
“We’ve got multiple LEED Silvers [and] the renovation of 52 Harpswell was our first LEED Gold, so shooting for LEED Platinum is a big deal for us,” said Payson. “It’s going to be a standout for Bowdoin College in terms of how little energy it uses relative to other buildings of its type.”
In addition to sustainable construction, the Office of Sustainability hopes to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging students to change their behavior. The office holds an annual energy conservation dorm competition, which will last through the month of October. An online program allows students to monitor electricity use for each building in real time.
“We look at the energy competition as a real opportunity for us to engage people on the topic of behavior change and how they can use less energy,” said Payson.
She recommended that students make small changes to their daily routines, such as turning off lights before leaving for class.
News in brief: Bridge to Topsham deemed structurally deficient
The Frank J. Wood Bridge has connected Topsham to Brunswick since the early 1930s, but the historic bridge at the end of Maine Street faces an uncertain future.
After a regularly scheduled inspection in June and a follow-up inspection in August, Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) engineers found the bridge’s structural steel was significantly deteriorated. As a result, they downgraded the condition of the bridge deck and superstructure from “fair” to “poor.”
Last month, the bridge across the Androscoggin River was branded with a posted limit of 25 tons, which prevents some commercial trucks from using it. Although MDOT recommended a full replacement of the bridge last April, neither MDOT nor the Federal Highway Administration has approved a definitive course of action.
John Graham is one of several community members working to preserve the Frank J. Wood Bridge.
“At one time in the early 1900s, that kind of bridge, or truss bridge, was the most common bridge in Maine,” said Graham in a phone interview with the Orient. “We’re losing them at a drastic rate, so at some point there’s going to be none of them left. And if you’re going to keep one, this is a great setting to keep it [in].”
The bridge is both a historical relic and a local landmark and appears in the Brunswick town filter on Snapchat.
“Historical structures create a sense of place, and a sense of place creates a sense of community and quickly identifies where you are in the world,” said Graham. “[The bridge] is one of the big defining characteristics of this town.”
Graham co-founded a Facebook page called “Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge” and serves as president of a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit group of the same name. He hopes to keep the public aware of the decision-making process. MDOT is required by law to present the public with all alternatives to replacement.
Graham added that the final decision for the preservation or replacement of the bridge is at least a year away.