After attacks on other campuses, BSG revives Safe Walk system
In response to racially motivated attacks on several college campuses across the United States, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) announced a revamped Safe Walk program to ensure students do not have to walk alone. BSG President Harriet Fisher ’17 informed students of the program in an email on Saturday.
As part of the program, students can sign up to help others, or confidentially request accompaniment and receive contact information of students who have signed up to help.
“There’s one form where you can offer up your time, put in your name, your phone number, your email, what your commute is to campus and what times of day you would be available,” Fisher said. “On the other form, all you have to submit is your email. As soon as I see a request for that, I automatically share that email with all the contact information.”
As of press time, nine students have requested assistance and 74 students have offered their help.
Bowdoin Safe Walk first formed as a Facebook group last fall, after several sexual assaults were reported including an incident in which multiple female students were groped while walking at night.
Fisher said that this year’s Safe Walk system builds off of the momentum of last year’s program, but said that it had a different goal in light of incidents at other colleges following the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.
At the University of Michigan, a Muslim student was approached by a man who threatened to set her on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. A number of African American first-year students at the University of Pennsylvania were added to a GroupMe conversation that threatened a “daily lynching” and made other racist remarks, the Washington Post reported.
“[The Safe Walk program] is in light of the election results. I don’t see it as kind of the same thing [as last year], because I think it serves a new purpose,” said Fisher.
ELECTION 2016: Students spend fall working for Clinton campaign
Several Bowdoin students expanded the breadth of their political activism by working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign for reasons spanning from admiring Clinton as a candidate to Republican nominee Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric. Since the beginning of the semester, these students have supported the campaign by organizing and working at local phone banks, training volunteers, canvassing and identifying supporters.
Amanda Bennett ’17 decided to take the semester off to work as field organizer for the first congressional district of Maine.
“It’s just very easy for people, especially women of my generation, to be reminded that we do have a female candidate as a nominee for a major political party,” Bennett said. “I really admire her and I just decided that it was too big of an election to sit on the sidelines and not give it my ‘all’ and so I decided I wanted to take a semester off.
As a field organizer, Bennett tries to convince Maine voters, specifically those outside the Democratic first congressional district, to cast their votes for Clinton on Election Day.
Bennett also finds herself busy interacting with volunteers on a day-to-day basis for the Clinton campaign and encourages them to talk to neighbors in the second district about why Clinton is the best choice for the nation.
“I think that one of my favorite parts [about working for the campaign] is interacting with the volunteers that come from all walks of life. There are some Bowdoin alums that I have met through this, and it’s just very cool to meet everyone and share the experience,” she said.
Brooke Bullington ’17 and Noah Salzman ’17 joined the campaign by applying for local volunteer positions with Hillary for America Fellows program, which was originally started by President Obama during 2008 election.
“I am far more impressed with Hillary than I am afraid of Donald Trump,” Salzman said. “I think that we hear a ton of rhetoric around her experience but we don’t often consider what that experience looks like. Basically since she’s started her career, she’s worked for children, for families, for people who have been marginalized—groups like disabled individuals, women, and children. And I think that is only a fraction of the experience that I admire about her.”
Bullington said that working for the campaign has given her a greater sense of purpose.
“I think especially that all of the really hateful things that Trump has said has really reassured me that what I’m doing is really important and meaningful and needs to be done,” Bullington said.
Bullington and Salzman have been working between 15 and 20 hours per week, primarily at Democratic party offices in Brunswick, Bath and Portland. They also organized weekly phone banks at Bowdoin on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays. The last Bowdoin session they hosted was on October 27.
Bullington and Salzman commented on how difficult it was to reel in engaged Bowdoin students to help with the phone banks.
“It’s been really frustrating for us, because, at least for me, I feel like this is just so important, and I think that there are a lot of people who really support Hillary but aren’t super willing to get involved,” Bullington said.
Despite these challenges, all three students consider working for the campaign an enriching experience.
“You can see your impact very directly,” Salzman said. “Even though not every single thing we do has a massive scale, we see volunteers come through the door, we get to talk to them, we get to hear about what issues matter to them, we get to train them. Mobilizing people in such a concrete, tangible way I think has been so rewarding and something that I would definitely like to do again.”
Producer Chris Gary talks failure and curiosity
Chris Gary, producer and former HBO executive who oversaw works including “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “True Detective” and “Game of Thrones,” highlighted the importance for students to follow their passions and seek out new experiences his talk on Monday in Kresge Auditorium.
“You’re only as good as you are willing to discover new things,” he said.
During the talk, Gary discussed in great detail the role of curiosity, asking students what they liked to Google. He also upheld the importance of hobbies, saying that hobbies stem from a profound love for random, quirky curiosities.
Although he originally neglected his own curiosities, Gary said he eventually found happiness once he focused on following his passion.
“Every career that I had ever wanted had something to do with a character on a TV show,” he said.
He pursued a degree in finance at Georgetown University, but after his first internship he realized that Wall Street was not for him.
“They wanted me to conform,” he said. “Conforming [has always been] the thing I was taught to never do.”
Near the end of the talk, Gary spoke about the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a project in which he had found himself emotionally invested.
“[I] put more of myself into [the project] than anything I had ever worked on,” he said.
While Gary said some projects pushed him to be more creative, singling out “Game of Thrones” as his outlet for bold creativity, he said “Perks” had enabled him to be more emotional and more personal in his work.
Gary concluded his talk by telling the audience to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” He was greeted afterward by a long line of students, many of whom were hungry for more advice or had lingering questions about “Game of Thrones.”
The presentation helped many audience members consider how their passions could become a career—especially in the entertainment industry.
“I went to the event because I’m interested in film and the creative process, but I’m not really sure how it translates into something that you can do to make money and to survive because we do live in a capitalistic society,” said Railey Zantop-Zimlinghaus ’19. “Before meeting [Gary], I was missing the connection between the liberal arts mindset of ‘find what you’re passionate about and take it and run with it’ and the very real life, where you have to pay rent.”
“I liked a lot of his advice,” said Summers Askew ’20. “I thought it was an interesting perspective in the industry. He actually knows what’s going on.”
Zantop-Zimlinghaus added that she was also impressed by Gary’s relaxed demeanor.
“He was so chill,” she said. “He was a real person … not everyone has to be a robot!”
The talk was sponsored by Career Planning.
Liza Tarbell contributed to this report.
Editor's note, Friday, October 21, 7:21 pm: This article has been updated to reflect that Gary is an indepedent producer who has previously worked for HBO.
Talk of the Quad: Running and eating: an open letter
I used to be an avid runner. I tackled all distances: 1600m, 5K, 10K and even a half marathon. A full marathon wasn’t quite in my wheelhouse back then, but I was enamored by every single aspect of the sport: the scenery, regardless of if my legs took me through a rural or an urban route, the euphoria afterwards and, most importantly, the drive to be better. The simple things captivated me, too: clicking “Save My Run” on my antique Garmin 405 and the gasps when I would say, “I went on an X mile run!” I loved everything.
I started out as a sluggish, out-of-shape teen, but I slowly grew stronger as a runner. My runs became progressively longer and my pace followed suit—becoming quicker and quicker over time. I joined my school’s cross country team, and within one academic year I went from a junior varsity runner who took nearly 20 minutes to complete a three-mile course to a speedy varsity runner, finishing courses in as little as 16 minutes and 51 seconds. My love for competition grew with each run or race that I completed. With each finished course, however, I grew increasingly competitive with myself, taking my body and mind to their utmost extreme levels.
To put it simply, I stopped eating. I was cognizant of the harm it did to my body, yet I chose to ignore it. I tried to subdue the aches, pains, numbness and countless headaches because I valued becoming better. I valued my speed, but I sacrificed my sanity. A gallon-sized jug of water was fastened at my hip. Many thought it was only for my hydration, but I used it to mitigate my hunger. Everything in my body screamed at me, but I ignored that too. Instead, I chose to hone in on nutrition labels, calories and macronutrients. I thought I was helping myself; I truly did. My race times continued to drop, and so did my weight, even though I had nothing to lose.
My love for running faded fast, as did the color in my eyes and my smile, too. I withdrew from running and spiraled into a life of self-loathing. I hated myself. I hated the constant aches, pains and worries. I hated everything. Running provided balance, and without it I was a loose cannon. I spewed sadness, guilt and anxiety, and I continued to do so—on and off, left and right—for months.
Much of what plagued me back then—nearly two years ago—still lingers over my head. Though the pressure to become a better runner isn’t with me now, I’m still caught in a net of self-loathing. I can’t navigate my days comfortably; my arms, my legs, my shoulders and my chest are all littered with healed slashes that remind me of my weaknesses and pain. They represent the worst days.
Not all my days are bad, however. Some are remarkably good, and I find myself grateful for those days. I’m grateful to be here—to be surrounded by vibrant trees, falling acorns and the ocean. I’m grateful for the experiences so far, but I’m still struggling. I’m struggling to do the simplest, most basic things.
At Bowdoin, I can’t be “normal” without plunging into a full-fledged war with myself. I can’t make meal plans with someone without coming close to cancelling, nor can I enter Moulton or Thorne without anxiety looming over my shoulder. I can feel my throat tighten. I can’t go one meal, let alone one day, without being riddled with food insecurities and anxieties.
Everything that is a part of me—my insecurities, my damaged self-perception, my struggles with running—has been so deeply ingrained that it feels normal. This all feels normal. My lack of happiness some days feels normal, as well as the pessimistic view I have of myself. I don’t want it to be normal for me, but it is.
I wish my relationship with running was better when I initially started. I wish I could go back and yell at myself. In fact, I’m desperate for that chance. I’d be able to circumvent so much unnecessary pain—both emotional and physical—and I’d be without permanent reminders on my body. I’d be free of constraints and I’d be free of myself. I’d be liberated. Sadly, I’m forced to trudge onwards—forced to face my consequences each time I look in a mirror or down at myself.
Jonathan Calentti is a member of the class of 2020.