New hires join Bowdoin to improve student experience
The College has hired multiple new staff members this fall, four of whom will be working closely with students in order to improve the student experience.
Brandon Royce-Diop joins Bowdoin as Assistant Dean of Upperclass Students, replacing Assistant Dean Christopher Dennis. He will focus on working with students with last names beginning with A-L, and will also serve as alternative Judicial Board Advisor. Royce-Diop served in an number of leadership roles in Minneapolis, most recently as Dean of Students at the Fair School in Crystal, Minnesota.
Royce-Diop’s experience includes leading and co-founding the Kente Summit for Collegiate Black Males at Macalester College and the New Lens Urban Mentoring program through the St. Paul Public School, two leadership and mentoring programs.
Currently earning his Master’s in Education at the University of St. Thomas, Royce-Diop holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from St. John’s University.
Chicago native Ben Harris is Bowdoin’s new Director of Multicultural Life. He is tasked with creating positive experiences for students from a variety of backgrounds. Harris said his attraction to Bowdoin stems from the small size and warm student body.
“It’s an opportunity to have some impactful learning and to work with folks,” Harris said. “It’s such a small and intimate place.”
Before spending four years as assistant director of the Center for Black Culture at the University of Delaware, Harris earned his masters degree in English from Illinois State University and a B.A. from Elmhurst College. One of Harris’ primary goals at Bowdoin is to generate discussion about issues of race, diversity, education and privilege.
“I think it’s important that we create opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds who have this Bowdoin experience and also to provide [them with] resources to be successful,” Harris said.
Other new staff members are already familiar with campus. Recent Bowdoin graduate Laurel Varnell ’14 stepped into the role of Associate Director of Student Activities this fall.
Varnell’s primary task is to oversee a variety of campus-wide events, along with programming for Jack Magee’s Pub & Grill and the Craft Center. Additionally, she will act as a staff liaison to the first-year class council. As a student, Varnell served in numerous leadership roles on campus, including positions for Residential Life (ResLife), Relay for Life and the Women’s Resource Center. As a staff member, she aims to translate the desires of students into a College-funded reality.
Varnell said that her attraction to this position stemmed from her past work in ResLife.
“As an RA and proctor, I loved helping students navigate their path while at Bowdoin,” Varnell said. “I am able to continue do that in a professional way. [This job] is the perfect fit for me.”
Following graduation, Varnell worked at the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit legal firm in New York City. In her one-year fellowship position, Varnell represented clients in administrative court to claim public benefits.
Varnell said that her past Bowdoin experience will allow her to better address the needs of current students.
“When I was a student here, I had always dreamed about doing Student Activities,” Varnell said. “To be able to work in a department where [planning events] is their job is something I am very excited about.”
Varnell hopes to incorporate student artwork in her mission to revamp study spaces on campus, such as David Saul Smith Union. She also aims to reinvigorate the Craft Center through student-instructed courses and a reduced membership fee.
Also new to the college is alum Khoa Khuong ’04, who will be the new Assistant Dean of First-Year Students and Advisor to International Students.
“It feels really weird,” said Khuong. “I remember back when I was a student and I had this impression of the dean’s office as this place where you don’t want to go, but now that I’m in this job, I’m like ‘Wow, we do so much more than discipline people.’"
Khuong started on August 3 and has since been working closely with the first-year class. Before returning to Bowdoin, he taught math for 11 years, most recently at North Yarmouth Academy.
“At first I wasn’t sure about this job because I didn’t have any experience with higher education, but I really enjoy advising international students because I consider myself international,” said Khuong, who grew up in Vietnam. “So I’m looking forward to working with international students and helping them.”
Khuong is looking forward to working with all first-year students to help them feel welcome at Bowdoin by connecting them to the College’s resources.
“There are a lot of new things I am taking on in terms of this job and this new position, and my goal is to do this job well,” Khuong said. “For me, [it’s] to make sure that I know faculty and what the resources are here. I feel like I am a liaison for my first-year students.”
Talk of the Quad: Stung and restless
As the old saying goes, sometimes you are the scorpion and sometimes you are not. More often, however, you are the 20-year-old ecology student who found the scorpion with your foot.
Ceini—who was rubbing my spasming calf muscle—said, “Well, at least now you have a great story to tell.”
“You can definitely win the Most Badass Bowdoin Abroad Experience Award,” Graham chuckled. “If this doesn’t kill you first.”
We all laughed, though my peers and I were out of our depth in the rural South African bush. Could scorpions kill you? How necessary was a trip to the hospital? With no Internet access, no cell phone service and no car, the decision was made for us. We would stay at the Tshulu camp for the night.
Philly, our South African game guard, squashed the scorpion with his boot. He placed the body in a Sasko bread bag to assess the creature from behind a plastic barricade. The scorpion had a big tail and small pinchers.
“Did you know this area has some of the most poisonous scorpions in the world?” he asked. “But those ones are smaller. You should have really watched where you were stepping.”We later found out the scorpion was actually the most poisonous in southern Africa. The Parabuthus granulatus kills about four to six people in South Africa every year—usually children, but I digress. I received a smaller dose of the toxins, saving me from an expensive helicopter ride to the not-so-nearby hospital. It was an unfortunate circumstance with very fortunate results. For that, I am grateful.
As I sat in bed that night, alternating from one odd position to the next to quell the pain, I began to think about how peculiar the whole situation was. Of course the only serious scorpion sting in my abroad programs’ history occurred at our most isolated travel location. Of course the scorpion was the most poisonous species in the region. And of course I was stung while procrastinating to avoid writing a 20 page literature paper. Karma is cruel.
Though the situation included all of the factors that could go horribly wrong, it did not. I never went to the hospital. Instead, I subsisted on an absurd amount of ibuprofen—a limited and precious resource abroad.
We should have tried to denature the venom with hot packs; we instead tried to numb my hypersensitive nerves with ice. I could have, and probably should have, presented systemic symptoms up to eight hours after the sting. I should have been hospitalized for six days, with a steady stream of nerve block pulsing through my veins. But it wasn’t necessary. In that moment, I was both lucky and cursed.
The burning and stinging sensation travelled up to my knee. I found myself contemplating how I ended up running into a scorpion while wearing shoes and a headlamp. The necessary precautions were not enough to fend off the insidious savannah fauna. So what went wrong?
I replayed the scene in a loop as I paced the floor to increase circulation to my limb. Instead of looking at my feet with the headlamp, I was illuminating the path further ahead. My negligence opened a prime opportunity for the scorpion.
The venom made one notion clear. Looking too far into the future can cripple you in the present; preparation does not imply protection.
As the last of midterms roll through, it is important to remember precautions, like studying, only go so far. I plan to take a pause from work to appreciate the view, the chirping of crickets, sun rays peeking through the clouds, and laughs shared with my professors.
If we can disregard the path ahead and focus on where we are now, we may just avoid the threatening tail of the scorpion at our feet. If the scorpion stings, the toxins may take a few days to process. But I promise, the pain subsides by the time you finish watching “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” for the fourth time. (For clarification purposes, in addition to a shortage of ibuprofen in the African savannah, there are also limited movie options.)
To quote seven-time American Dodgeball Association of America All-Star Patches O’Houlihan, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Instead, I would recommend skipping the wrenches altogether. Preparation is only effective to a point and obstacles will tackle you regardless. So you may as well stop to smell the pine trees along the way. Just watch your step.
Elana Vlodaver is a member of the Class of 2016.
Talk of the Quad: Poop culture
In an age when the Internet allows universal anonymity, we begin to expect privacy as an unalienable right. When confidentiality is not an option, many people find anxiety in taking a stance—or a squat. In reality, we are much more than icons on computer screens. When it comes down to it, people are all people. And everybody poops.
We are all united in this reality. Any two humans share on average 99.9 percent of their genes, meaning most Homo sapien physiology is identical. Pooping is a unifying characteristic of humanity: all genders sit to poop (or hover if you are a hypochondriac). We all eat and so as a result we all poop. And that’s okay. It’s great, even. So why can taking a seat at the porcelain throne be so stress-inducing?
One hypothesis is that many Bowdoin students seek to project an image of perfection, even at the cost of their own well-being. The counseling staff at Bowdoin is acutely aware of this—Director of Counseling Services, Bernie Hershberger, says he especially enjoys aiding students with perfectionism anxiety.
For some odd, socially constructed reason, we seem to think it is vulgar and uncivilized to poop. Thus, to be perfect, we must never poop. As a means of striving for this ideal, we make every attempt to conceal our “indecent” behavior from our peers. Though we have not spoken to Hershberger about whether poop anxiety is often brought up in counseling sessions, we noticed that when prompted, most of our friends immediately gushed over their awkward restroom escapades. And yet, most students would never bring up poop anxiety on their own in a conversation for fear of deviating from the cultural norm.
A 2011 study at Emory University showed that chimpanzees who frequently fling feces have more developed motor cortexes and connections to a section of the brain used by humans for speech processing. Simply put, smarter monkeys throw more poop. Meanwhile, our human society finds it impolite to discuss such a dirty matter. It is possible that we attempt to hide our digestive measures as a means to separate humans from animals. However, if our closest living evolutionary relatives embrace poop as a means to display intelligence, I am not opposed to flaunting the existence of my own bowel movements (though I will still stick to speech over throwing feces as my preferred form of communication).
A great source of human anxiety is the desire to fit in. Given that everyone and their RA hides the fact that they poop, we tend to deny the existence of our excrement. Everyone has read “Everybody Poops,” by Taro Gomi—an important contribution to the literary canon of defecation. Some people, though, are loath to identify themselves as poopers. This is the great contradiction: we accept the generalization that pooping is part of the human condition, but singling one specific person out is, for some reason, embarrassing. Pooping has become taboo.
Despite this personal acceptance of pooping as a biological actuality, it can be stressful to be sitting on the can in my signature leopard-print slippers only to have another dorm resident come in to brush her teeth or do her hair. There’s no hiding. I’m being outed as a pooper. Although my bathroom guest will not say anything, we will both know. And it causes an unnecessary and unspoken power dynamic between the two of us that would be completely rectified if only people were to talk more openly and casually about pooping.
That’s the thing about this physical process—it is much less social than other bathroom activities. A casual chat over mutual urination or a recap of the day’s events while popping a pimple is normal. But something about that basic human communication while a mass of processed food is travelling out of a bodily orifice into a shared toilet makes people shut right up.
Whether they talk about it or not, many people actually enjoy the process of pooping primarily because they find time for solitude on the peaceful potty. Whether it takes one minute or an hour to process the day, pooping is a sacred time to digest it all.
However, we cannot always afford the luxury of a private toilet at the College. In fact, for many of us, our “movements” tend to be in relatively public places.
What to do when you sit down to do the deed and another lonely pooper wanders in with the same intention? In a multi-stall bathroom with two (or more) students waiting to poop, anxiety can mount. Who will release the Kraken first? Sometimes, overwhelmed by the tension in the room, the only option is to flush the toilet, zip up your pants, and find a different, less populated bathroom.
Thus, it is crucial to find your own favorite place to do the do. We all have beloved personal pooping places. However, we are unable to disclose our favorites here, for fear of the overpopulation—or worse, toilet clogging—of the most serene pooping sanctuaries. We can say, however, that you cannot select your pooping bathroom: it must choose you. Much like Olivander’s wands, when you come across the right one, you will know.
While this article presents poop anxiety with jest, we hope the absurd nature of hiding our body’s actions permeates through the humor. We all do it, and hopefully through lighthearted discussion, we can replace awkwardness with pooping solidarity.
Junior trades in campus life for the catwalk, models in New York
Emily Bungert ’15 teamed with an up-and-coming designer to work in showrooms during peak season in New York.
How did you get involved with modeling?
I worked with this designer, Karolina Zmarlak. She’s a Polish designer who is in her first few seasons in New York. She came to my town to do a trunk show and a little mini fashion show to help the people to see what [the clothes] look like on—people are more likely to buy it if they seen it on. I knew the guy whose house it was at—my dad made the shutters on his house. So, I was [modeling] in her little trunk show, which was really casual: mostly local people came to check stuff out. I got to meet her team there, her stylists, the person who helped her start her company. They were awesome. And she was like, “well, if you want to come to New York during market” [peak modeling season, following Fashion Week].
What type of modeling job were you hired for?
Softball splits weekend before NESCAC playoffs
Despite splitting a doubleheader against Brandeis last Saturday, the softball team is optimistic about the upcoming NESCAC playoffs this weekend at Tufts.
The Polar Bears won the first game against Brandeis 3-0. Melissa DellaTorre ’14 only gave up one hit on the mound, pitching perfectly for the first three innings.
In the second game, Bowdoin was ahead until three Polar Bear errors contributed to five runs for Brandeis in the third inning.
Relay for Life raises 40k to fight cancer
The eighth annual Relay for Life (RFL) raised $42,119.60 and counting for cancer research, treatment and services last Friday at Farley Field House.
RFL is an annual event sponsored on college campuses by the American Cancer Society (ACS) to honor individuals affected by cancer and collect donations for research. Participants aim to walk as many laps around a track as they can to in honor of those who lost their lives to the disease.The College’s relay—which lasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Farley Field House—offered a wide range of activities to keep participants entertained while others walked on the track, including a hypnotist, Zumba class, bouncy castle, bungee run, Taiko and a cappella performances, DJs, photo booth, raffle prizes, ping-pong tables, corn hole, and food options.
Participants are encouraged to raise money as a team. This year, 41 teams joined the relay, consisting of 462 people. There is a $10 registration fee for individuals hoping to take part in the festivities.
Bowdoin's sustainability efforts reach Brunswick community
Bowdoin’s efforts towards more sustainable practices has extened beyond the College and into the Brunswick community. In 2005, Bowdoin committed to switching to natural gas heating and brought additional natural gas pipelines to Brunswick. This allowed residents on Longfellow Avenue, Harpswell Road and Federal Street to gain access to natural gas.
Natural gas heats 83 percent of Bowdoin’s campus-owned buildings, according to Longley. Also, 5 percent of Maine residents heat their homes using natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Natural gas costs approximately half of the price of traditional heating methods, saving the residents and the College thousands of dollars a year, according to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Tresurer Katy Longley.
Longley said she believes that eventually Brunswick would have received natural gas access, but Bowdoin was catalyst in this acquisition.
Boston entrepreneur Carl Barron ’38 advises students on business opportunities
Last Friday, eight students traveled to Cambridge, Mass. to attend an entrepreneurship seminar led by Carl Barron ’38.
Before becoming a renowned businessman, Barron graduated from Bowdoin with a degree in economics. He created the first-ever furniture-leasing company, Putnam Furniture, the start of his entrepreneurial success. Barron Plaza and Barron Building in Cambridge, Mass. are physical reminders of his achievements.
President Barry Mills, Director of Student Activities Allen DeLong, and the Office of Alumni Relations arranged the five-hour-long seminar series with Barron for a select group of students interested in entrepreneurship. Members of the Bowdoin Entrepreneurship Club, the Bowdoin Women in Business Club, and the founders of CampusFoodTrucks (CFT) were invited to attend.
Maine Senators King and Collins introduce new bill to bring jobs to NASB
The local community lost nearly 5,000 jobs when the Naval Air Station Brunswick (NASB) closed in May 2011. Now, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) hope to repair the damage through co-sponsored legislation to expand the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones), including the NASB. HUBZones helps businesses within the program receive preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. HUBZones are areas demonstrating economic needs, including non-metropolitan communities, land within Native American reservations, or land affected by the closure of a military facility—like NASB. The Small Business Administration, which Karen Mills will continue to lead until another administrator is appointed, oversees the HUBZone program.
Trustee donations account for at least 11% of annual giving
Donations from trustees accounted for at least 11 percent of fiscal year (FY) 2012’s annual giving, according to data on the Alumni Fund’s website. Trustees donated at least $1,214,500 of the $10,477,227 raised in total. An exact number could not be calculated because the Alumni Fund only reveals how much each donor gives by increments, sharing the range into which their gift fell, and not an exact figure. In addition, the records for gifts from seven trustees were not available.
Crack House theft follows burglary at boathouse
Two thefts allegedly took place before Thanksgiving break, one at an off-campus residence and the other at the sailing team’s boathouse in Harpswell. The most recent theft occurred at an off-campus party at 83 1/2 Harpswell Road—better known as Crack House—on November 17, when a partygoer allegedly stole numerous signs and decorations from the student residence.
Student activists make last minute pushes on election day, take hundreds to polls
Tuesday’s presidential election was the first time many students were eligible to vote, and there was no shortage of political activism in the weeks leading up to election day. The Bowdoin College Democrats and Mainers United for Marriage coordinated shuttles between campus and the polling station at Brunswick High School from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. The two groups drove at least 274 students to go to the polls on Tuesday, and 363 students took these shuttles to vote early.
Bonauto discusses marriage equality, law
As ballots were assembled to be cast in early voting this week, Mary Bonauto, the civil rights project director of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), spoke about her work to expand marriage equality to a small crowd in Kresge Auditorium last Monday. A referendum on same-sex marriage is Question 1 on the Maine ballot this year. Bonauto has been working on a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which witholds numerous benefits from same-sex couples that are extended to heterosexual couples, including insurance benefits and joint tax returns. DOMA also allows states not to recognize same-sex marriage licenses obtained in other states.
Clery Report documents 150 on-campus alcohol offenses in 2011
There were 149 alcohol-related disciplinary actions and seven forcible sex offences on campus during the 2011 calendar year, according to the Annual Clery Campus Crime Reports, released on October 2.
Women’s golf wins first two matches with new head coach
For a team of only five players, a new head coach has the potential to dramatically affect the team’s inner dynamic. For the women’s golf team, the arrival of new head coach Marissa O’Neil has served to increase their confidence and performance.
Security warns campus of two local men
Just weeks into the new semester, the Office of Safety and Security has already sent two alerts warning the community about suspicious individuals.