Despite initial debate about the event’s purpose and execution, Thursday’s teach-in, “Intersections: Making Connections, Moving Forward,” was met with generally positive reactions from organizers and participants alike.
The teach-in featured plenary panels at the beginning and end of the day, panels on various topics, open classes, a dance performance, slam poetry and a music performance. All the panels featured Bowdoin professors, students and staff talking about various aspects of the intersection between climate change and social justice.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. I feel really honored to have been able to learn alongside our students and to have been taught by both our students and faculty,” said Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion Leana Amaez, who helped organize the event. “I hope the conversation continues because it has been remarkably meaningful for me and hopefully the rest of the community.”
Echoing Amaez’s thoughts, Briana Cardwell ’17 said she was “very overwhelmed and happy that things went the way that they were planned. At first I was like, ‘Is this Bowdoin? What school am I at?’ because I was happy to see the different people that came.”
Earlier this week, A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Music Mary Hunter—an initial proponent of a teach-in—told the Orient, “My bar is that people learn something that they couldn’t have learned without the day, and that they converse in a way that they would not converse without the day.”
Some students’ responses mirrored this sentiment.
“Initially I was skeptical about how valuable an event like this could be, but I think I went to a few interesting events and was exposed to topics that I hadn’t really thought about before and interacted with,” said Julian FrareDavis ’17. “I think the really good thing about discussions is that it makes you think about what’s being discussed and work within your mind instead of just being talked to.”
Though reactions have been positive, some students and faculty did not or could not attend and the full extent of the event’s impact is not yet clear.
“I think it was a start,” said Director of the McKeen Center Sarah Seames. “I think it’s hard in a one hour panel, with an audience that big, to be able to help people get into what their specific interests are, so that’s why it’s important that people continue talking and exploring how whatever they’re passionate about can relate to broader policy issues.”How the teach-in came about
Although introduced and proposed to faculty and staff last year, in December and February, respectively, the idea to have a day dedicated to climate change has been in the works since former president Barry Mills signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007. Mills then organized a group of faculty, staff, students and alumni to come up with ways to be more sustainable here at Bowdoin. The committee announced in 2009 that the College had a goal to be carbon neutral by 2020. Following the announcement, Bowdoin had a festival that “rallied around issues of climate change,” according to a 2009 Orient article.
Madeleine Msall, a professor in the physics department, was a member of that committee. Following the rally, Msall says that motivation lagged. “There was a sense, after some years into the carbon neutral commitment, that we kind of lost our impetus to make the harder choices.”
According to Msall, then-President Barry Mills told her that he believed the best course of action needed to be faculty initiative. Msall rounded up a group of faculty and discussed what faculty leadership issues on climate issues would look like.
“One of the suggestions was that we should have a teach-in. We should make a moment where we took the idea of that this is so important that we need to focus lots of campus energy on it,” said Msall.
The week the teach-in was presented was also the week police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Student leaders of multicultural groups held a vigil in remembrance of Brown and the events happening in Ferguson.
“On the faculty floor, it was very passionate when people said, ‘We understand you’re very active about climate change, but if we’re going to have a teach-in at Bowdoin we need to have a teach-in about racism and all the ways it affects all of us both on campus and the greater world,’” said Msall regarding the initial presentation in December.Professors divided
Since its conception, the teach-in has been a point of contention among professors. The content, format and timing of the event were all fervently debated at faculty meetings as well as in private discussions.
“It’s creating divisions amongst people that really should be working together. It has created a certain amount of hurt feelings,” Associate Professor of English Ann Kibbie said before the event.
Chair of the History Department Dallas Denery was concerned about the politicization of the day.
“We’re here to challenge students, we’re here to improve critical thinking, we’re here to open up horizons,” said Denery. “But I don’t know if it’s our responsibility to use our position as faculty to push specific political agendas that often have nothing to do with our professorial expertise.”
Although the faculty supported the teach-in by a majority vote, they did not support a campus-wide cancellation of classes. In an email to the student body, Interim Dean for Academic Affairs Jen Scanlon and Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster stated that the teach-in is not a “Bowdoin event.” Scanlon and Foster also stressed that “lack of participation in the teach-in should not be read as lack of concern for the issues of social, racial and climate justice that affect us all.”
Professors and staff who did participate in the teach-in seemed to be pleased with its outcome. Associate Professor of History and the Director of Africana Studies Brian Purnell, who co-taught a class about urban landscapes, says he was impressed with how engaged students were.
“Students asked hard questions about urban inequality and what role they will play when they leave Bowdoin and they go out into the world and probably live or work in cities. They asked some pretty tough questions about what they should do or how they should think about experiencing urban inequality as graduates, workers and homeowners, and that was powerful.”
Purnell was also excited to have heard from his fellow faculty on such heavy issues.
“It was great to learn from other colleagues. It was exciting to feel alive and learning in such a dynamic way, and that’s how I felt participating.”Students React
Many students who had been skeptical about the day’s events felt the opening plenary and the panels and classes that followed exposed them to ideas they had not thought about previously. First-year Emmett Ulian attended the opening plenary and felt that he left with a good understanding of the connection between climate change, race and social justice.
“I was a little bit curious how those three issues related, and I thought that that opening was a good way to illustrate all the connections between the three issues,” he said.
Senior James Jelin also attended the opening plenary and was impressed with how well the issue of climate change and its intersection with other aspects of society was addressed.
“The idea of climate change intersecting with race is interesting because it’s like an exacerbating factor,” said Jelin. “We know that race affects every aspect of life and it affects people unevenly and I think just reminding us all that that is true a well for lack of resources due to climate change, like homes going under water, that that affects people differently based on race, income, et cetera.”
Senior Matthew Williams was skeptical about the intersectionality of the topics covered by the events. By the end of the day, however, he had attended three panels on a variety of topics from science fiction to portrayals of Hurricane Katrina in writing.
“I thought the teach-in was really effective and something that was really powerful. It made me think about things that I would never have thought about before, like if the oceans get cooler it can change water currents which could change weather patterns which could change everything about the way we live in society. There were just so many great intersectionalities.”Marina Henke ’19 was also impressed by how the event came together in a cohesive manner. She attended the opening plenary and commented on how interesting it was to be discussing so many different, but related topics.
“As I was sitting there and the people next to me were sitting there, we were talking afterwards about how it was a very unique experience to hear a discussion about polar bears and their social influence and commentary on the United States’s environmental understandings, sitting right next to a lecture on Ferguson and racial tensions in the Unites States, which was connected also to a climate change, science lecture,” she said.
Others were impressed with the dialogue that occurred throughout the day.
During one panel, “Is the US Political System Broken?,” first-year Francisco Navarro and Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in Government Cory Gooding went head to head.
Gooding recited a poem by Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again,” and argued that because America had historically only benefited certain individuals, it was never truly “great.”
Navarro—a Cuban-American born in Miami and raised in Yucatan, Mexico—disagreed as someone familiar with multiple political landscapes.
“You said, ‘When exactly was America great?’ That bothers me,” Navarro said to Gooding at the panel. “I can see how privileged and how unappreciative we are of our democratic system. My problem with Trump’s slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ is that America is already great.”
Gooding replied, “What makes America great is our ability to keep trying to attain the greatness that we proclaim—but for someone who was just shot dead in the street by the law enforcement that was supposed to protect him or her, I’m not sure how much he would advocate for the greatness of the country.”
“I caution us against beating our chests so boldly that we don’t recognize the work that still needs to be done,” Gooding added.
“I was very appreciative of [Navarro’s] question,” said Emiley Charley ’17. “I really liked that dialogue. I felt as though that was what I came out to see. To see conversations start around people who don’t see eye to eye.”
Franco Sasieta ’16, who attended a panel about public health and how it relates to issues of social justice, liked the broad range of perspectives present.
“It provided a local, national and scattered global view of different public health issues which I was not fully aware of,” he said.
Junior Jennings Leavell was glad to be a part of the teach-in.
“Events like these are important and I’m thankful that my professor cancelled class so that I could attend, because engaging a community on issues like this is important.”
The McKeen Center will be hosting a debrief of Thursday’s events over lunch at 12:30 p.m. today in Daggett Lounge. All are encouraged to attend to reflect on the teach-in and explore ways of continuing effective dialogue.
John Branch and Joe Sherlock contributed to this report.
Bowdoin to replace all loans with grants
Policy takes effect in fall; current students will not incur further debt
College graduation is often associated with freedom. But with tuition costs at an all-time high, Bowdoin graduates often find themselves shackled by student loan debt years after receiving their degrees. No more.
Eleven may face piracy suits
Illegally downloading Britney Spears's new single may cost some students more than ridicule this semester?$750, to be exact. Eleven members of the Bowdoin community were served with pre-litigation letters earlier this month for infringing on the rights of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) by illegally uploading or downloading music files over online peer-to-peer (p2p) networks.
Hazing investigation concludes ?mild hazing?
An investigation conducted at the end of the fall semester has concluded that several students on the women's squash team were victims of "mild hazing" in 2006. According to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, "in the case of women's squash, there was certainly mild to moderate hazing."
Facilities adds locks to Brunswick Apts.
At 3 a.m. on December 27, 2007, a man and his dog entered an unlocked apartment in Brunswick Apartments where two students were sleeping. The students were woken by the dog, and sighted the man in the doorway before he exited.
Despite a day with classes, King?s birthday observed
Though Monday marked the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, at Bowdoin, classes continued as usual. However, the fact that classes were in session did not stop faculty and students from reflecting on King's legacy, which has a special connection to Bowdoin.
Bowdoin 24th in Peace Corps rankings; 14 alumni currently serving abroad
For the second year in a row, Bowdoin made the Peace Corps's top 25 list for small schools with the largest number of volunteers serving abroad. There are currently 14 Bowdoin alumni serving as volunteers in 12 countries, earning the College a 24th place ranking on this year's list. In 2006, when Bowdoin was ranked 20th on the list, Peace Corps Regional Recruiter Christopher Lins noted that if the rankings were done on a per capita basis, Bowdoin would fall in the top five of all schools in the country.
BSG is workable in spite of resignations
VoIP phones installed in dorms; some quads share one phone
The new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, introduced in certain administrative offices in November, have now been installed throughout the entire campus. Replacing phones that have been used since the 1970s, the VoIP phones convert telephone signals for transmission over Bowdoin's existing internet network. The switch to VoIP occurred after a year of internal testing at the College. According to Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis, the new telephone network is now the nation's fastest campus-wide network.
Bowdoin Brief: IT installs new public printing system
Public printing at Bowdoin is now easier and more reliable than it has been in the past, according to Information Technology (IT). The College has replaced its four-year-old CS Print system with Pharos Uniprint. "We recognized some clear issues with the system we had in place," said IT Security Officer and Systems Consultant Steve Blanc.
Bowdoin Brief: Powell leaves Bowdoin for Princeton admissions
Senior Associate Dean of Admissions Logan Powell has left Bowdoin to accept a position in the Princeton University Undergraduate Admissions Office. According to a press release on the Princeton Web site, Powell was appointed Director of Admission, effective December 12, 2007. In his new position, Powell is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the undergraduate admissions office and the management of its staff.
Editorial: Replacing Student Loans
In his 1972 hit ?School?s Out,? rocker Alice Cooper articulated the catharsis that grips students each spring when they wave goodbye to the various undesirable aspects of school. For college graduates, however, it is often more complicated: While many might leave behind ?pencils, books, and teachers? dirty looks,? debt from increasingly large student loans tends to stalk them into adulthood.
The Flip Side: Taking issue with taxes on estates, gifts
After observing the presidential debates surrounding taxation, I have been intrigued by the estate tax. As the laws currently stand, one can pass on up to $2,000,000 upon death tax free to their heirs. I have heard a variety of stances regarding the issue.
Bowdoin students should rethink stances on Moosehead plans
To the Editors: Andy Smith ("Need to consider alternative options for development at Plum Creek," December 7, 2007) shows his lack of independent knowledge of the Moosehead Lake Region by submitting a piece whose entire substance consists of Natural Resources Council of Maine-published "talking points."
Medical malpractice suits did not increase for Maine doctors
To the Editors: Brian Lockhart's column "Health care costs rise with medical liability lawsuits" (December 7, 2007) was well written but somewhat off the mark. Mr. Lockhart mentions "increasing incidences of lawsuits brought against doctors."
- December 7
Editorial: Zoning Ordinance
The proposed zoning ordinance that would prohibit two or more unrelated persons from living together in one household unit may have been masked as an innocuous decree intended to preserve the quality of neighborhoods in Brunswick, but its underlying message is clear: Bowdoin students are not welcome by some neighbors outside of the college community. Although the ordinance itself makes no specific mention of students, citizens who spoke in favor of the measure at Tuesday night's meeting repeatedly cited the off-campus student house at 17 Cleaveland St. in their remarks, confirming our fear that this proposal is little more than poorly disguised discrimination.
- December 7
Revocation of funding was inappropriate response to Republicans
Last year, when WBOR faced termination by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for failing to follow legal regulations (not keeping records of its Public Service Announcements), the campus sprung into action, writing more than 600 letters to support the station. Station leadership itself helped to remedy the situation, completing the missing records.
- December 7
Moosehead Lake development demands Bowdoin students? attention
I can assure Mr. Simko ("Bowdoin students have no right to protest Plum Creek development plan," November 30, 2007) that all students who attended the Land Use Regulation Commision's public hearing in Augusta on December 2 have taken time to understand the issue. He accuses Bowdoin students of having no vested interest in the area, but it is Seattle-based Plum Creek, the nation's largest land developer, who is guilty of this charge more than us students.
- December 7
Need to consider alternative options for development at Plum Creek
I am a freshman at Colby College who has been working to stop Plum Creek's development plan for the Moosehead region. One of my friends was sent John Simko's opinion piece ("Bowdoin students have no right to protest Plum Creek development plan," November 30, 2007) by a Bowdoin student, and after reading it I felt compelled to respond. While I am not a Bowdoin student, Simko's criticisms of their activism apply to me as well. After all, I spent the weekend with several of the students he is condemning, and I testified with them at the Land Use Regulation Commission hearing in Augusta.
- December 7
View from the Top: Seniors: Holiday parties are in session
With the semester coming to a close, there are a few things to take note of here...clearly the most important being that it's time to take advantage of the circuit of holiday events. Now that you're a senior, you know what to expect when it comes to holiday fun on campus; where you like to party, when it's appropriate to show, and how extreme to get.
- December 7
The Flip Side: Health care costs rise with medical liability lawsuits
As December rolls around, I thought I might break the seal on campaign issues. I would like to discuss a consequence of medical liability lawsuits on health care that is not very well known. Most people know that doctors' insurance has inflated dramatically as there have been increasing incidences of lawsuits brought against physicians. The rising insurance is often blamed for the skyrocketing health care costs. However, insurance is only a fraction of the problem.
Students return with new perspectives, field experience
While students studying off-campus this spring have just begun their adjustment, students who spent their fall semester away are making the opposite transition back to life at Bowdoin. These students' stories are just a few of this fall's off-campus study experiences.
News from the Field: Nature and nurture work together, and science addresses both topics
The social sciences rest at the elbow of the arts/humanities and the natural sciences. The topics addressed by social scientists are familiar to the philosopher and the musician: reason, passion, and the magnificent depths of the human experience.
Busting Bowdoin Myths: Steam tunnels exist, but not for students
As temperatures drop to frighteningly low degrees, Bowdoin's rumored underground tunnels would certainly be a comfort to use.
The Diddy Gritty: Guide to curing campus fever
As a savvy Bowdoin vet, I know that nothing hurts a good semester more than the seasonal depression associated with the Maine winter.
- December 7
Museum equipped with new top-notch security features
The Walker Art Building, the most recently renovated building on campus, may stand as the most secure building in Maine.
- December 7
Students find rides home through Digest, friends
Upsurges in work and cabin fever are not the only signs that winter break is on the horizon. Posts begin to sprinkle the Student Digest several weeks in advance, politely inquiring about rides to the Portland Jetport, Boston, New York, and other destinations.
- December 7
The Elements of Style: Winter wonderland: season for elegance
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Or so they say.
- December 7
Students encourage toy drive donations
Though it may be hard to see the upcoming holiday season through the looming week of finals, two first years are urging students to think not only of the holidays, but also of others.
- December 7
Squirrels, storms, can leave campus in the dark
When campus squirrels finally begin Operation Takeover Bowdoin, their first step will likely be to cut power to the campus.
- November 30
Safe Ride Confessions
Do you remember what you talked about in the Safe Ride van on the way back from the party last weekend? Probably not. Chances are, though, that your Safe Ride driver does.
Arts & Entertainment
Bisbee nails opening at Portland Museum of Art
Following the accidental discovery of a bucket of entangled nails in 1988, Lecturer in Art John Bisbee has plied the massy metal into diverse and imaginative sculptures. Currently on display at the Portland Museum of Art are pieces that scamper up the wall like double-jointed arthropods while others languidly curve across the floor.
Artist consumes the fruit of her body
Performance art, which emerged during the tumultuous 1970s, is widely regarded as weird, obscure, and nonsensical. Artists such as GG Allin, Blue Man Group, and Yoko Ono are among the most mainstream of the avant-garde genre. Burning paintings, on-stage excrement, and bizarre body distortions are all things one may expect to see at a conceptual art performance.
Lights, camera, activism
The largest environmental film festival in North America is coming to Portland, Maine.
Beer 101: Professor of beer shares his top 10 Winter Break brews
At the end of last semester, I had big plans for the first Beer 101 of this year. I would kick it off with tales of brewery tours or drinking adventures I took over break. But as my break began to disappear, I realized the only two guarantees were that I would be traveling and drinking a good deal, a situation well-suited to being able to try new beers. Never without pen and paper, I chronicled each beer I drank and have compiled my list of the 10 best. None of these beers werepurchased in Maine, and therefore I am unable to provide price or location, although I am sure many of the finalists are available at Uncle Tom's.
Delson crafts NYC novel with humor, wit, and love
The holidays provide an expanse of empty hours, perfect for those who like to combine sloth and intellectual stimulation. Bookworms are content to spend hours sprawled in a variety of uncomfortable positions for the sake of the stories in front of them. Sometimes the Christmas stack yields literary delights, other times you stir from four prostrate hours and berate yourself for not enjoying the crisp air, sunny skies and sparkling snow. (I live in Santa Fe where these things can all happen at once.) "Maynard and Jennica" by Rudolph Delson is the sort of novel that not only keeps you horizontal without complaint but induces visible grins and audible chortles, earning you skeptical glares from family members who try to occupy the same space.
?Dresses? loose at the seams
If the hope for "27 Dresses" was an innovative gown of a film with bold style and a refreshing hue, the audience will have to settle for a reliable, simple, black dress of a movie: never the wrong choice, but not a remarkable one either. Directed by Anne Fletcher, the movie is pleasant enough, but similarly-themed romantic comedies such as "10 Things I Hate About You" easily outshine this fall-back date movie. With its inevitable happy ending and attractive actors, "27 Dresses" certainly succeeds in making its audiences feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it does no more than that.
Wii exclusive ?Umbrella Chronicles? is no match for ?Resident Evil 5?
The real shame of the Nintendo Wii is that it is incapable of running the more technologically advanced games of the current generation. "Resident Evil 4," one of the top games of the last generation, was originally a GameCube exclusive. Yet this generation's Nintendo system can't handle "Resident Evil 5," which will appear on both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. In order to compensate for this travesty, Capcom has released a Wii-exclusive "Resident Evil" game: "Umbrella Chronicles." Although this game cannot possibly compare with a powerhouse like "Resident Evil 5," it presents a fun and mostly satisfying experience that lives up to the "Resident Evil" (RE) tradition.
DJ of the Week: Jess Weaver '10 and Kate Epstein '10
Top five desert island albums? JW: A smorgasborg of regular albums and soundtracks: "Goodnight and Good Luck;" "Before Sunrise;" "High Fidelity;" "O Brother, Where Art Thou;" "Motorcycle Diaries." KE: Paul Simon's "Graceland;" Bright Eyes's "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning;" Postal Service's "Give Up;" Rilo Kiley's "The Execution of All Things;" The Beatles's "Magical Mystery Tour."
- December 7
Sculpture show responds to unique space of gallery
Students in the semester's Sculpture I class dug deep to transform the Coleman Burke Gallery in Fort Andross. The space serves as an excavation site for the final class project of the semester which culminates in the show?titled "Quarry" that open? tonight.
- December 7
Comedy class showcases familiar and surprising laughs
Aleve, Chippendale dancers, Reddi-wip, and a Bat Mitzvah all in one place?
Meagher records 400th career ice hockey win
As the Bowdoin Men's Hockey Team captured its fourth Salem State Holiday Classic in late December, Head Coach Terry Meagher became just one of seven coaches in Division III history to reach the 400-win mark.
Women?s basketball hits hot streak
The Bowdoin Women's Basketball Team appears back on track after seven straight victories, including Wednesday night's strong showing against Clark University.
Men?s track takes first out of 11 at Brandeis
A cool wintry breeze blew through the Brandeis quad on a sleepy Saturday morning, but inside the field house the atmosphere was tempestuous.
Throwing events lead way to second for women?s track
After coming back to campus two weeks early to train, the Bowdoin Women's Track Team benefited from all the hard work, taking second with 127 points at the Reggie Poyau Invitational held at Brandeis University.
Men?s squash upsets Navy at Yale
The Naval Academy Squash Team must have thought it had an easy win coming its way when it faced Bowdoin, resting its No. 1 player for the match. The Polar Bears, who had dropped a tough loss last year to Navy, refused to leave so quietly.
Men?s basketball beats Williams, loses to Middlebury over weekend
The men's basketball team opened NESCAC play with an impressive victory over the eighth-ranked Williams College Ephs last Friday in Morrell Gym.
Skiing runs into problems at St. Lawrence
Despite training over Winter Break in Fort Kent, the men and women's nordic ski teams struggled at the St. Lawrence Carnival in Presque Isle as the members battled stomach viruses, adjusted to a new coaching staff, and faced training challenges for skiers returning from abroad.
Women?s hockey improves as Campbell steps up
When most of the student body left campus at the end of finals, the women's ice hockey team was struggling to find its rhythm. While most students were on the beach or the ski slopes, the Polar Bears went on a tear, with an undefeated record over their last four games and only two losses in their last nine.
Column Like I See 'Em: Say A Lot and You Won?t Get A Lot
Did anyone else happen to see that shadowy figure standing on the San Diego sidelines during Sunday's AFC title game? You know, the one that looked like Darth Vader's flamboyant cousin sporting a white helmet with yellow bolts atop a dark and mysterious skull-like frame?
- December 7
Leary breaks scoring record in 10-5 win
First year Ryan Leary gave fans at Dayton Arena something to celebrate 15:37 into the first period last Saturday against Skidmore, scoring his first goal as a Bowdoin Polar Bear. Leary then earned a standing ovation when he notched a hat trick just 3:28 later. By the end of the game, he would go down in Bowdoin history, scoring six goals in the entire game as the Bears went on to defeat Skidmore 10-5.