Under the tenure of former president Barry Mills, Bowdoin saw a substantial increase in the racial diversity of its student body. For the 2001-2002 school year, just 21 percent of Bowdoin students identified as a race other than white; this year, according to the College’s Common Data Set, that number was 37 percent.
The experiences of students of color at Bowdoin are varied and diverse, and cannot be explained by any statistic. At the same time, many students believe that recent conflicts—the “tequila” and “gangster” parties, Cracksgiving, racially-charged verbal attacks on students in town—highlight the College’s continued struggle to make Bowdoin a welcoming place for people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
“When all these things happened and people refused to understand why this hurts a lot, that’s when it got to me,” said Cesar Siguencia ’18, who identifies as Latino. “That’s when I realized my race started to become a problem on this campus.”
Skyler Lewis ’16, who identifies as black, said he is no longer surprised by racial issues on campus.
“I’ve dealt with a whole bunch of stuff,” he said. “At first it used to really bother me, being called the n-word or someone saying some really stupid racist stuff, and eventually I just got to the point where I’ve come to expect it almost.”
Ryan Strange ’17, who identifies as black and biracial, noted that students of color have been more vocal about racial issues this year than in the past.
“There are a lot more students of color who are speaking out. And I guess that’s uncomfortable for some people,” he said.
But whether students of color speak out or stay quiet, their race nonetheless can impact their experiences throughout their time at Bowdoin.
Many students of color first saw the College through Explore Bowdoin or Bowdoin Experience, admissions programs that encourage low-income and first-generation students to apply and matriculate to Bowdoin. These programs have a greater representation of students of color than the actual student body.
“The Experience and the Explore programs that I did, which I loved… helped me so much and I’m very appreciative because it got me to where I am now,” said Dylan Goodwill ’17, who identifies as Native American. “[But] it seemed so diverse when I came and then I was very surprised when I came and I was like, ‘It’s not as diverse as I thought.’”
Lewis voiced a similar sentiment.
“Both of the weekends that I came up seem like they’re more for minority students so you walk around campus and there are a whole bunch of minorities, especially during Experience weekend,” he said. “And you leave and you show up [for college] and you’re like, where’d everybody go?”
Raquel Santizo '19
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As students of color arrive on a campus that is less racially diverse than they had anticipated, many gravitate towards peers of similar racial and ethnic backgrounds. Affinity groups, such as the Asian Student Association (ASA), the Native American Student Organization (NASA), the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and the African American Student Organization (Af-Am) provide one mechanism for students to connect with others who feel the same way.
“I think it’s natural to kind of gravitate towards people who are similar to you, especially culturally,” Lewis said. “And that doesn't have to be based on race but often times it is. I live in Coles Tower with three other black males....we have similar cultural backgrounds, we listen to the same stuff, we came from similar areas.”
Michelle Hong ’16, who was born in Texas to Korean parents and identifies as Asian-American, is the current co-president of ASA. She joined the group her sophomore year after realizing that she did not know many Asian students at Bowdoin.
“I joined ASA my sophomore year because I think I started wondering why I didn’t have any Asian-American friends at Bowdoin,” she said. “[I realized] there were parts of my identity that I was missing by doing what the majority of Bowdoin students do.”
Like Hong, many students of color struggled to find and maintain their racial and cultural identities as they adjusted to Bowdoin.
Goodwill, who is Sioux and Navajo, has found it difficult to preserve her cultural practices at the College. She also notices herself adjusting her language and behavior to fit in.
“I always knew I did code switching,” she said. “[But] I now notice it a lot more. I don’t talk in my normal slang or in my normal accent at all.”
Jeffrey Chung '16
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Jeffrey Chung ’16, who identifies as Chinese-American and is also co-president of ASA, noted that affinity groups can help create community among students with similar racial experiences.
“Michelle and I have been working a lot to change the identity of the club... to reflect more on the community and identity of the students within the club rather than promoting an image of ‘Asian culture’ to the rest of campus,” he said.
While affinity groups are a supportive environment for some students, options are more limited for students whose racial or ethnic identification is not shared by as many Bowdoin students.
Irfan Alam ’18, who identifies as South Asian and Muslim, wants to create a formal group for South Asian students to connect.
“We have a reasonable South Asian student population. I think like probably twenty-five,” he said. “We’re hoping to try to make an organization sort of like LASO, sort of like ASA, Af-Am, things like that, but for South Asian students,” he said.
NASA currently has six members and no faculty adviser. Goodwill, one of its co-presidents, said such small numbers made it difficult for Native American students to respond to racial incidents on campus.
“Cracksgiving happened my first year here and I was so surprised that nothing was being done about it because I was really offended, but there was only me and two other girls on campus who were Native,” she said. “And they were like, well, this has been happening and like there’s only three of us, what can we do?”
Although some students find kinship befriending others of their same race or ethnicity, many students of color voiced concerns about racial segregation on campus.
“Maybe because it’s such a predominantly white institution, that people of color tend to stay together because they’re a part of the minority,” said Strange. “Maybe it’s on both sides...I guess people of color and also white people need to push ourselves to try to get to know people outside their own comfort zone.”
Michelle Hong '16
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This division along racial lines has reached most aspects of Bowdoin social life. Several students of color said that race impacted their dating and hookup experiences on campus.
“Gay men of color most of the time are separate from gay white men,” said Strange. “I don’t know why that is.”
Chung, who grew up in New York City, found that the trope of Asian-Americans as perpetual foreigners created separation for him in Bowdoin’s relationship scene.
“It dawned upon me as I approached the hookup culture and as I approached the party scene here that I—however much as I could identify as an American—I still couldn’t completely fit in or I still couldn’t completely be seen as strictly the same,” he said.
Simone Rumph ’19, who primarily identifies as African-American but also Greek and Brazilian, added that Bowdoin’s dating and hookup scene made her worry about being exoticized because of her race.
“You can see it in the way people approach you. They don’t approach you in a way that other girls will be approached,” she said.
Many students notice that the parties hosted by College Houses and by affinity groups—both of which are open to the entire student body—tend to have different attendees.
“Af-Am, whenever they have parties, it’s usually people of color that go,” said Strange.
“I didn’t really process immediately that [when I] went into a College House party as a freshman I might be the only Asian person that I could see,” Chung said.
Racial divides at College Houses and other campus events lead some students of color to question whether Bowdoin’s campus is self-segregated. Strange noticed this phenomenon at some of the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) hearings following the “tequila” party.
“After the meeting at BSG, I noticed how segregated it was,” he said. “People of color stood on one side and then there were all white people on the outside and it was just so interesting to me. I don’t know how or why that happened. And it happens in the classroom too, I notice. And I don’t know why.”
The impact of race is not limited to social groups or student government meetings. Instead, students of color say that race sometimes influences their academic experiences and their relationships with professors.
Many students expressed that the scarcity of students of color at Bowdoin places a burden on individuals to represent everyone of their racial background.
“Sometimes you feel like the class looks to you to act as a spokesperson for black students,” Lewis said.
Some students also worry that their personal behaviors might unintentionally reinforce or inscribe racial stereotypes at Bowdoin and beyond.
“I find that I do very well at academics here at Bowdoin, which is fine,” Chung said. “But I think that at the same time there’s this sort of lingering thought in my mind: Am I sort of just perpetuating the stereotype of the model minority? Like do my peers only think I’m doing well because I’m Asian or do they actually recognize all the work that I’m putting into academics?”
Dylan Goodwill '17
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In addition to peer-to-peer interactions, race sometimes informs students’ interactions with faculty. While 37 percent of Bowdoin students identify as minorities, only 14 percent of faculty members do, according to the College’s Common Data Set.
“I try not to put race as a factor… [but] the professor that inspired me the most to date on this campus was a professor who identified herself as Latina,” Siguencia said. “Although she helped me so much in the field of study that I was in the class of, we talked so much about our experiences because it just correlated so much, saying that we understand the struggles that we’re facing because no one else here on this campus does.”
Student experiences with race and faculty are not always positive, however. Goodwill said she has encountered several instances of overt racism from professors.
“It was comments,” she said. “And one of them was last semester but then one of them was my freshman year. And being a freshman in your first-year seminar, and it’s your first time on campus it’s like how do you deal with that?”
Other students expressed that their families’ backgrounds—especially financial ones—have added pressure to succeed academically at Bowdoin. Siguencia said he feels he cannot become too involved in Bowdoin’s party or drinking scene because he fears his academics will suffer.
“What if—worst-case scenario—what if I were to fail? What do I have to fall back on?” he said.
Despite the importance of academics, several students commented that the burden of dealing with racial issues can be overwhelming and distracts them from their studies.
“It’s like you come to a place where you’re supposed to be safe and you’re supposed to be able to focus on your studies and you’re experiencing all of this other stuff as well, all this extra emotional baggage,” Hong said.
For many students, racially-charged campus events only added to this emotional labor. Several students expressed that they wished their professors would give greater acknowledgement to events like the “tequila” and “gangster” parties.
“You know that there are students on this campus who don’t even want to go to class because they’re so hurt by this,” said Hong.
“I am a student in your class [who] is clearly being affected by everything that’s going on,” added Raquel Santizo ’19, who identifies as Latin American, more specifically Peruvian.
While students did not expect their professors to coddle them, several said that they wished their professors would acknowledge the difficulty of the situations or facilitate discussions around them.
“My professors are fully capable of giving us not information, but facilitating thoughtful conversation the way they do in a normal class,” Alam said.
Even with the absence of faculty attention, Alam added that he felt campus discussions about race were worthwhile.
“Although [the “tequila” party] has caused a lot of tension and all these different things, I do wholeheartedly believe that it created a lot of important dialogue,” he said. “I think that we should be able to do that without having it be prompted by incidents where people become upset or offended. So proactive engagement with these issues is important.”
Hong added that campus conversations make her more aware of racial issues in the outside world.
“I identify being a person of color more than I used to and I used to not group Asian-Americans in with people of color. And so now that I do I think I care more deeply about national issues that are going on, like the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said. “I think it would be easier to ignore if I didn’t identify as a student of color… I’m more present I guess for conversations about race than I was when I first got to Bowdoin.”
Racial issues still exist when students of color leave Bowdoin’s immediate campus. According to 2010 census data, the population of Brunswick is 93 percent white, a fact that can be jarring for students who grew up in racially diverse environments.
Santizo, who grew up in Los Angeles, noticed these demographics as she prepared to move in last fall.
“My mom said: ‘Raquel, I think you’re the only Hispanic girl in this whole state,’” she said.
Alam noted that, while he had not personally encountered racism off campus, several female Muslim students had.
Off campus interactions serve as a reminder that, while the outside world may not discuss race as often as Bowdoin students do, racial issues nonetheless continue to play a role in the lives of students of color.
“When I graduate, part of it will be easier because I won’t be constantly faced everyday where we are so engaged and I’ll probably be able to just go about my daily life,” Hong said. “But I think once you’re conscious about race and you’re conscious about the implications of race you can’t really ever forget that.”
Vacant frat house at 38 Harpswell Road to be demolished on Monday
Thirty-eight Harpswell Road, the former Alpha Kappa Sigma fraternity house, is slated for demolition starting this Monday, November 25. The College has yet to finalize plans for the lot.
“We don’t have a timetable or design for the new structure, but we hope it’s in the next few years,” said Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley. According to Longley, proposals for the space have included an arctic museum with additional classroom space.
Now known as Lancaster House, the College acquired the building along with several other former fraternity houses in June 2000.
IT targets students’ personal Wi-fi hubs
Unauthorized access points slow network, pose security risk, says IT
According to Director of Networking and Telecommunications Jason Lavoie, over 25 unauthorized Wi-fi access points have been installed since the beginning of the academic year, mainly in dorms, and are now causing problems with the network as a whole.
According to Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis and Lavoie, this has resulted in poorer service for the rest of the community.
Though Information Technology (IT) could turn off the unauthorized access points on their own, Davis said he hopes to instead encourage collaboration between students and IT in tackling this issue, a sentiment he outlined in an email to the college on November 15.
Nine safety violations in Dining since 2010
No violations represented extreme safety risks; Dining reports that they see inspections as a learning tool.
Since 2010, food safety inspectors from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services have issued nine Risk Factor/Intervention Violations to Dining Service’s four food service locations at Bowdoin: four in Thorne, three in Moulton, two in Jack Magee’s Pub & Grill, and none in the Café. None of these violations represented extreme risks to the quality or safety of the food served to Bowdoin students.
According to Ken Cardone, the associate director and executive chef of dining services who has been at Bowdoin for 25 years, Dining sees these inspections as learning tools rather than punishment.
“When you have an inspection report, [the inspector will] call attention to certain areas,” Cardone said. “We make those adjustments quickly, and that helps as a training tool.”
Student research warns of rising midcoast sea levels; community officials respond
Rising sea levels caused by global climate change could have a serious effect on towns in midcoast Maine, according to research presented by Cam Adams ’14 at the “Changing Tides: Perspectives on Sea Level Rise” panel last week.
Since hearing about the research last year, midcoast community officials in Bath and Bowdoinham have launched further analyses of the data.
Organized by Courtney Payne ’15, Anna Hall ’15, and Margaret Lindeman ’15, the November 14 panel looked at the potential effects of sea level rise as a result of climate change on the international, state and local levels.
594 ED I apps; 20% more countries represented
High school students hoping to enroll at Bowdoin next fall have begun to send their applications, essays, recommendation letters and arts supplements to the Office of Admissions. The College received 594 applications for Early Decision I (ED I). The deadline was last Friday, November 15.
The number of ED applications may fluctuate in the coming days, according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn. Some students will opt to switch to regular decision, and some students who have already applied regular will call to move their application into the ED pool.
The number of applications is fairly consistant with previous years. It marks a slight decrease from the record-breaking 602 ED applications for the Class of 2017.
Sixty minutes: investigating the Common Hour tradition
Six Fridays a semester, Bowdoin students, faculty and staff gather in order “to rejoice in our collegiate purpose, to interact with each other, and to deepen our common understanding, concern and delight.” Common Hour—set aside for the entire community—brings speakers on a wide range of topics to address the Bowdoin community.
Students, faculty and staff choose five out of the six Common Hour speakers for each semester through an open nomination process. The remaining speaker is chosen from the faculty via student nominations only. The annual number of nominations varies, ranging from as few as 10 to as many as 100.
Once the nominations are submitted, the Office of Events and Summer Programs, under the guidance of Associate Director of Events and Summer Programs Brenna Hensley, reviews them all individually and check for speakers that have multiple nominations or that people have shown high degrees of interest in. Hensley and her team research potential speakers, check their availability, and if everything falls into place, invite them to speak.
No major issues with Polaris rollout
Eight percent more students received their first choice classes with Polaris compared to the old paper system.
This week marked the first time the entire student body used Polaris, the new online course registration website, rather than course cards. First years used Polaris for course selection this fall.
Registrar Jan Brackett evaluated Polaris’ success from two angles: what the results were for students signing up for classes and what feedback she received from the faculty and advisors.
“I compared how many people were in four classes after round one versus how many people were in four classes after the top of the card was processed last spring,” when registration was still done on paper, Brackett said. By this metric, all four grade levels did better this spring using Polaris than last spring with paper registration cards, so she “consider[s] that a success.”
BSG Update: BSG discusses Saturday pep rally, active bystander training
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) met this Wednesday, primarily to review the progress of previously approved mandates before departure for Thanksgiving break next week.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Jordan Goldberg ’14 discussed an event occurring on campus last night called “Difference at Bowdoin.”
The event featured two guest speakers, Jeff Cuartas ’14 and H. Roy Partridge, a visiting professor of sociology, and examined difference and diversity on Bowdoin’s campus. Goldberg also noted the success of the ‘Food for Thought’ talks held this past Monday in the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.
Emails: From Allen Delong: Pep rally cancellation
- November 15
McLellan renovations to cost town 10 times initial estimate
As Bowdoin prepares to move its offices from the first and second floor of the McLellan Building by Hannaford to various locations on campus, the Town of Brunswick is debating how to pay for the building’s higher-than-expected renovation costs.
At a meeting last Thursday, the Brunswick Town Council discussed possibilities for financing the renovation of the building, located at 85 Union St., which they estimate will cost nearly $1 million. The town plans to use the building as a new town hall.
“A lot of this discussion has arisen because the price has escalated,” said town councilor Benet Pols.
Editorial: Feedback loop
With less than three weeks left in the fall semester, the final push is upon us. And though we’ve known about many of these final assignments since the first day of classes, these last papers, exams and projects never fail to induce panic, culminating in December’s all-too-familiar—and almost always over- caffeinated—frenzied final sprint. What we produce in these last three weeks represents, in theory, a demonstration of a semester’s worth of lectures, readings and assignments—a synthesis of all we’ve learned. Yet we tend to dispatch these completed assignments into a void, abandoning them as we pack our bags for our long-awaited break.
Currently, there is no official policy for professors handing back graded finals and papers. And though some do offer students the option of turning in final work along with a self-addressed envelope, or encourage them to collect assignments at the start of the following semester, this is far from the norm. More often than not, the quality of our final work is reflected in the course grade alone; students rarely ask for—and thus miss out on—constructive feedback.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that grades are irrelevant, or that the hard work we do throughout the semester is reflective of pure intellectual zeal. Grades are powerful external motivators. But this reality does not negate the fact that learning for learning’s sake is folded into our work as well. We benefit from working on these assignments, and we owe it to ourselves to bring the process full circle.
- 1 days ago
Deal with it: Don’t snooze your alarm: build mental discipline doing what you hate
The unnamed dad in the Calvin and Hobbes comic series had a popular refrain. Whenever Calvin complained about something (usually a father-son bonding activity) his dad always responded with a because-I-said-so reason, followed by, “Besides, it builds character.” The importance of these character-building moments in our lives should not be understated.
As long as I can remember my family motto has been “suck it up.” I have come to realize that through their mildly ostensible harshness, my parents were trying to do me a favor. Not only do excruciating experiences—such as airport hang overs on international flights—make someone a more versed and interesting individual, they also contribute to the stock of mental discipline.
Before proceeding, I think it is wise to actually define ‘mental discipline.’ I see it as the ability to muster the willingness to do something that is undesirable, but ultimately necessary or beneficial. Ending a Netflix binge and getting back to work, resisting a third helping of pie at Bowdoin’s Thanksgiving dinner, and showing up to class on Friday morning (shudder) all in some way require varying degrees of mental toughness.
- 1 days ago
In support of the right to bare all
Not all nudity is sexual. We’re born naked (duh); we give birth naked; we bathe naked; we have to get naked (or semi-naked) at the doctor’s office. And there is also an elusive subculture of nudity at Bowdoin. We all know about naked laps: you lose too hard at beer pong and you have to run around the building naked. There is the tradition of streaking the quad because this is a college. Balls to Mass Hall (i.e. sprinting from Hubbard to Mass Hall) is a trek. When I did it, three quarters of the way through an unbidden complaint popped into my head: “When is this gonna be over?" But I didn’t confess that I found streaking boring.
Then there are the naked parties. I wound up at one last year. I remember being struck by how visible everything was. It was in the Tower and the space had that stark, stale Tower feeling. The fluorescent lights concealed nothing and I was amazed by the range of bodies. Fat bodies and skinny bodies. Boobs of all different sizes. Bodies with tattoos and piercings (I drunkenly read aloud Bible verses off my physics tutor’s back). They were, to my memory, all white bodies, but that’s a different conversation.
Different levels of nudity were accepted—I decided to keep my underwear on. Most people were entirely naked, though. In describing it later I remembered how many drunk, cold, flaccid penises there were. So hats off to all those dudes who were brave enough to let it fly. After about half an hour, my friend and I put our clothes back on (they had been stored in trash bags graciously provided by the host) and left feeling good about our bodies and the accepting nature of our peers.
- 1 days ago
all out of love: Insurance woes: Obamacare proving ineffective
106,856. That is the number of people who successfully selected—not bought—a new healthcare plan this past October under the Obama administration’s legislation often referred to as ‘Obamacare.’ The program’s official name is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a moniker that now seems ironic, given recent struggles.
A mere 27,000 people dove into the behemoth website that is healthcare.gov and emerged having successfully selected a plan. For those in need of a refresher, healthcare.gov is the federal government’s version of a highly touted new-age online marketplace; the particulars of the ACA were centered on the assumption of its functionality. In Maine, a state that opted to use the federal government’s website, only 271 people selected a plan by the end of the month.
As kindly noted by Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas, more people caught chlamydia last month than selected a plan under Obamacare. He also noted that more people followed Nickelback on Twitter, and bought Yoko Ono’s first album than selected a plan.
- 1 days ago
Home In All Lands: Helmet head: your brain is worth the investmentWhenever I see groups of visitors being led around campus on admissions tours, I wonder about the kinds of things that they must notice as they walk around Bowdoin’s campus. What do they think about the Quad? Do they think—as I do—that Smith Union is a little too bright and its colors a little too garish? Are they frightened by the thunder of basketball being played in Sargent Gym? They inevitably will start thinking about the cost of going to a school like Bowdoin. Going to college in the United States isn’t cheap; Bowdoin is certainly no exception. So you will forgive my surprise when I see people racing around campus at breakneck speeds, endangering the brains they have invested in so dearly: helmet-wearing cyclists are few and far between at Bowdoin. “Well if they don’t need to use their brains, they don’t need helmets!” quipped one professor who always wears a helmet when cycling. If we assume that the cost of a Bowdoin education is related to the value of your brain, then your cerebral matter is quite valuable indeed. For argument’s sake, let’s say that four years at Bowdoin costs $200,000. And let’s just say that this represents the approximate value of your brain. If you owned something of a comparable value—say, an expensive car, a house, a small yacht or a light aircraft—I’d guess that you would try to protect your property. So why can’t you afford the same protection for your head? There’s no denying that helmets are effective. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that wearing a helmet reduces “the risk of head injury by 85 percent and brain injury by 88 percent.” Injuries to your legs and arms can often be healed. But severe trauma to your head is far more dangerous. According to a report from 1996-2005 by the New York City Department of Transportation from, 97 percent of cyclists who died following an accident weren’t wearing a helmet. Every year, across America, hundreds of people die because “helmets are too expensive.” Because “helmets are uncomfortable.” Because “helmets can’t protect me.” I don’t mean to say that a helmet is some kind of panacea. Like wearing a seatbelt when you’re driving, donning a helmet will not immunize you against injury or prevent you from dying. Yet it is clear that wearing a helmet largely increases your chances of surviving an accident. Cycling accidents happen all the time and not just out on the street. Last year, I witnessed a student from Brunswick High School hit a squirrel while cycling at some speed across the Quad. He flipped over the handlebars and landed on the path. By some stroke of luck, he walked away with only a few scratches. I shudder to think what might have happened had he not been wearing a helmet. Let me be clear: I have nothing against cycling, nor do I wish to force helmets onto your heads. There’s nothing wrong about not wearing a helmet. You are all adults and are quite capable of making your own decisions. But all of you have exceptional minds: you are Bowdoin students after all. Wouldn’t it be an incredible shame if it all went to waste?
Whenever I see groups of visitors being led around campus on admissions tours, I wonder about the kinds of things that they must notice as they walk around Bowdoin’s campus. What do they think about the Quad? Do they think—as I do—that Smith Union is a little too bright and its colors a little too garish? Are they frightened by the thunder of basketball being played in Sargent Gym?
They inevitably will start thinking about the cost of going to a school like Bowdoin. Going to college in the United States isn’t cheap; Bowdoin is certainly no exception. So you will forgive my surprise when I see people racing around campus at breakneck speeds, endangering the brains they have invested in so dearly: helmet-wearing cyclists are few and far between at Bowdoin.
“Well if they don’t need to use their brains, they don’t need helmets!” quipped one professor who always wears a helmet when cycling. If we assume that the cost of a Bowdoin education is related to the value of your brain, then your cerebral matter is quite valuable indeed. For argument’s sake, let’s say that four years at Bowdoin costs $200,000. And let’s just say that this represents the approximate value of your brain. If you owned something of a comparable value—say, an expensive car, a house, a small yacht or a light aircraft—I’d guess that you would try to protect your property. So why can’t you afford the same protection for your head?
- November 15
One week ago, the staff of the Harvard Crimson ran an editorial embracing a new trend in higher education—the growing number of students choosing to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) fields over the humanities. “Let them eat code” is currently the top-read article on the Crimson’s website, with 80 comments as of press time. The editorial applauds students who choose these more “rigorous” fields, characterizing the knowledge and skills gained through study of these disciplines as more practical in our ultra-competitive economy. Scholars in the humanities, they write, are of little importance because with or without them, people will still have access to literature, music and philosophy.
“Why spend four years listening to lecturers warn you that you can never really know anything?” asks the piece. We can’t help but note that this is neither an unenlightening nor a novel concept; Socrates argued that “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
And while we do not believe that four years spent reading Woolf and Hume and Shakespeare is a waste of time, the strength of a liberal arts education is, in part, its breadth. Bowdoin’s new Digital and Computational Studies Initiative proves that the two disciplines are not mutually exclusive; for one final project in the inaugural Gateway to the Digital Humanities class, two students are learning code to build a website that archives the history of art at the College. These classes prove that the disciplines are not only valuable in and of themselves but as complements to one another.
- November 15
Only Charcoal to Defend: From Guy Fawkes to Black Friday: Reconciling November’s holidays
November is the month when we descend into winter. Each holiday takes us a little deeper. The sun shone when the month was young, and Halloween parties peppered the campus. I got giddy when I saw a couple Guy Fawkes masks—a symbol of the internet hacktivist group Anonymous, of Occupy Wall Street, and of other anti-government and anti-establishment movements around the world. “We are legion!” yelled one masked Halloweener at one point, echoing the mantra of Anonymous.
I managed to remember the Fifth of November when it came. It received very little news coverage, but Twitter was full of pictures of protestors with Guy Fawkes masks in front of Buckingham Palace, the White House, and other symbols of power around the world. In 1605, Londoners lit bonfires all over the city to celebrate the foiling of Guy Fawkes’ gunpowder plot to blow up the House of Lords. To more and more people now, November 5 is a revolutionary day waiting for Fawkes’ reckoning.
But before I can romanticize a gunpowder plot, with November comes a day that is beautiful for many reasons, and would not tolerate more destruction. Kurt Vonnegut described how on November 11, 1918, “millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another” and the First World War ended. The day was named Armistice Day, and never again were we supposed to have another war like the one that cease fire ended. The day is now known as Veterans Day—and we have had many wars since. Had Vonnegut and I been friends, we would have celebrated our birthdays together on this day, and maybe we would have talked about how we were never supposed to have such wars again.
- November 15
Climate distilled: $10/ton: Costs of offsetting your carbon guilt
If you could pay someone to erase your carbon footprint, would you do it?
Let me rephrase that: would you pay someone to erase your carbon footprint, even if you weren’t sure that it would work?
This is the fascinating, if contentious, promise of the carbon-offsetting industry.
- November 15
Kicking the can: Data dump: what new mathematical methods mean for social sciencesThanks to the work of popular social science authors like Steven Levitt of Freakonomics and Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, data analysis is a hot new trend in social science. Unfortunately, not everyone can be a Silver or a Levitt. Objective, data-driven research can help to clarify much in the social sciences, but scientists who jump onto these new methods with little statistical training or rigor do their disciplines a disservice. Objective study is very important to social science, but so is traditional, subjective observation and we must remember that many of the social sciences were founded the development of regression analysis. Academics, and we who encounter their work, must be careful to receive statistical information with a health skepticism.“Correlation does not imply causation!” Anyone who has taken a statistics class or any data-driven course, has heard this phrase (often from a professor who is constantly peeved by people conflating the two concepts). Depending on the professor’s exasperation level, it is possible that she just finished reading a social science journal. Granted, it’s relatively rare that an article will openly claim causation where there’s none to be found, but implicit claims often lurk. And even in instances where causation is not claimed, some researchers dive no further into a topic after determining correlation. Correlation can tell us quite a lot, but we cannot pretend to understand an issue without determining the causes behind it.Correlative relationships are powerful rhetorical tools, and everyone from self-styled Facebook pundits to Ph.Ds use them to try to prove points. One familiar example is the oft-repeated claim that areas with high rates of gun ownership have comparably lower crime rates than those with lower gun ownership rates. This is true. But is it a causal relationship? Doubtfully. Areas with high gun ownership tend to be rural areas that would see low crime regardless of the size of its weapons cache—there are, after all, few multinational drug cartels in central Kansas. Just because the causal relationship is dubious doesn’t mean that it’s not great rhetoric. Correlative relationships provide fantastic material for argument, but many of these arguments demonstrate just why simple correlation shouldn’t be trusted as proof in academic research.Causal relationships are shown by revealing the relationship between correlated phenomena. Laboratory experiments are of limited value in the social sciences, so such relationships are explored by examining the effect of one thing on another in real world context.In many cases, researchers will accept statistical correlation as causation if there is a theoretical or cultural rationale for it—though they may sometimes do so to their own detriment. For instance, I recently read an academic paper detailing the relationship between a Paraguayan’s native language and her educational and economic achievement. The paper claimed that speaking Guaraní, the country’s most widely-spoken language, has measurable effect on—not just correlation with—achievement. This phenomenon is culturally possible—the Guaraní language has the stigmatized reputation as being backwards and less value than Spanish, the dominant language in Paraguay’s economy. However, the researchers failed to control for their subjects’ socioeconomic backgrounds. Socioeconomic background and language are no doubt strongly correlated, but both are also show strong correlation with achievement. Without controlling for that variable, among others, it is impossible to know whether Paraguayans’ mother tongues truly influence their economic or educational success.Cases like this bolster the argument that nuanced social and economic issues are perhaps better examined through more qualitative analyses than with complex mathematical models. Western social and political thought is to this day heavily influenced by the discoveries of the ancient Greeks and Romans; the great minds of these societies used little more than description and allegory to illustrate psychological and philosphical insights that remain relevant to this day. Political and social thinkers still cite Socrates’s allegory of the cave, for example, as an impressively illustrative of the way that distorted or incomplete information can create a gap between perception and reality. Émile Durkheim, who foundmodern sociology and shaped the structure of many modern social sciences, made these contributions to human understanding before mathematical analysis of huge data troves was de rigeur. Today’s social scientists would do well to remember that some of the best work done in their disciplines was completed without the use of sohpisticated mathematical models.Tim Groseclose, a professor at UCLA, observed that the social scientists who were mose effectively using quantitative methods often had a background in economics. I agree with Groseclose, but would expand this category to include all scientists with rigorous statistical or mathematical training. However, the researchers best at analyzing troves of data will not necessarily be those who produce the best results in social science. The social sciences need academics to interpret our world through logical analysis and thoughtful case studies and number-crunchers to filter through huge swaths of data and conduct rigorous analysis. What the fields do not need is flawed statistical study that contributes little to humanity’s understanding of itself.
Thanks to the work of popular social science authors like Steven Levitt of Freakonomics and Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, data analysis is a hot new trend in social science. Unfortunately, not everyone can be a Silver or a Levitt.
Objective, data-driven research can help to clarify much in the social sciences, but scientists who jump onto these new methods with little statistical training or rigor do their disciplines a disservice. Objective study is very important to social science, but so is traditional, subjective observation and we must remember that many of the social sciences were founded the development of regression analysis.
Academics, and we who encounter their work, must be careful to receive statistical information with a health skepticism.
- November 15
Defending the cultural boycott: a response to Gabriel Frankel
Two weeks ago, journalist Ali Abunimah came to campus to give a talk on “The Battle for Justice in Palestine.” After the talk, he responded to the question of what average people can do to help alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians—suffering that is the result of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and human and civil rights abuses. Abunimah called for people to take part in the call for a boycott of Israel, including PACBI (the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel).
Recently, Gabriel Frankel ’17 wrote a column in the opinion section criticizing the academic and cultural boycott of Israel for saying it repressed dialogue and singled out the state. Although Frankel cites USACBI throughout his article, I chose to cite PACBI because it is the actual movement that Frankel is referencing. USACBI is just a branch that supports PACBI, and both groups have the same call to action. I didn't read his article as a critique of USACBI specifically as an organization, but of the principles they stood for, which were created by PACBI in the first place. The USACBI website states "we are a U.S. campaign focused specifically on a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, as delineated by PACBI."
Frankel makes various disparate and blatantly incorrect claims regarding the motivations for PACBI—a call for action that the Palestinian community (including various trade unions and civil society groups) and many international organizations (such as the Green Party of the U.S., and hundreds of prominent academics) have officially endorsed.
Exploring two decades of the Leadership Training program at the Bowdoin Outing Club
For many students at Bowdoin, their outdoor experience will consist of an Outing Club trip, a few runs in the Brunswick Commons and, if they’re lucky, a trip to hike Mount Katahdin. But for students who seek more immersive outdoor experiences, the Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) offers Leadership Training (LT) and its subgroup, Out of the Zone (OZ).
LT courses are offered in the fall, winter and spring.
According to the BOC webpage, LT participants are required to complete over 350 hours of lecture, demonstration and fieldwork to successfully complete the course and become certified to guide other students on trips.
Brunswick Farmers’ Market: the root of your locavore dinner
Every Tuesday and Thursday, fifteen local food vendors set up stalls along the Mall in downtown Brunswick to sell their day’s bounty. From seasonal produce to oven-fresh baked goods, the Brunswick Farmers’ Market provides a wide variety of local Maine fare. Every week, rain or shine, food enthusiasts come flooding to sample homegrown staples such as garlic-marinated goat cheese curds and hearty Sumatra roast coffee.
The market prides itself on being one of the oldest in the state—continuously operating for over 30 years. With friendly farmers and a tight-knit community, the vendors maintain a strong bond.
“We’re all competing, but it’s not cutthroat,” said Cathy Karonis, proprietor of Fairwinds Farm in Augusta. Over time, the farmers’ have fostered close bonds, due to each merchants’ commitment the long-term attendance.
Behind the Name tag: Catalogs and chords: library assistant Cook rocks ’n rolls
Students who frequent Hatch Science Library, whether they’re staffing the circulation desk or powering through a lab report, are probably familiar with Science Library Assistant Jeff Cook.
Now in his eighth year working at Bowdoin, Cook oversees many of the day-to-day operations of the library and is responsible for hiring, training and scheduling a staff of 20 to 25 students every semester.
Outside the library, Cook devotes a great deal of time to music. He plays drums and guitar for various bands in the area and has a small recording studio at his house that he claims to utilize often.
Relatively Quarky: New brain tumor identification technology, Tumor Paint, fluoresces hope for cancer patients
In 1888, William Williams Keen, the man who is considered to be the first neurosurgeon in the United States, successfully remove a malignant brain tumor.
Unsurprisingly, this moment is a watershed moment in the history of modern surgery. You can imagine that 125 years later, there would be many more radical and advanced methods of brain tumor removal.
However, the most significant change in surgical procedure may have just occurred.Since its invention, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been giving surgeons an unprecedented level of detail into the structure of the human brain.
The bears and the bees: Pillow talk: let’s bring conversation to the bedroom
Americans are obsessed with sex. It’s everywhere—movies, magazines, billboards, even our classrooms—and we are constantly talking about it. We want to know how to have good sex, how to get a person to have sex with you, how to get someone to call you after a one-night stand, how to avoid making or receiving that call—the list goes on.
Sex is constantly in the conversation.
But for all the talking we do, there is very little discussion where it matters most: in the bedroom.
- November 15
Gateway to the Digital Humanities blends interfaces of digital world with humanities
A new course offered this semester, Gateway to the Digital Humanities, is the College’s first foray into the interdisciplinary Digital and Computational Studies Initiative (DCSI). Taught by Eric Chown and Pamela Fletcher, the heads of the computer science and art history departments respectively, the class was developed as a way to introduce humanitites students to the big data and computation that are becoming more prevalent every day.
Chown and Fletcher are the DCSI’s co-directors, while Director of the Quantitative Reasoning Program and Lecturer in Mathematics Eric Gaze, New Media and Data Visualization Specialist Jack Gieseking, and Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities Crystal Hall will teach DCSI courses next semester.
According to Gateway’s syllabus, the course “will explore the possibilities, limitations, and implications of using computation to study the humanities. What sorts of questions can be asked and answered using computational methods? How do these methods complement and sometimes challenge traditional methodologies in the humanities? What are the primary tools and methods currently being used in the digital humanities?”
- November 15
Talk of the Quad: Where there's a Wil: the story of Wil Smith '00
Wil Smith ’00 came very close to missing the first day of classes the fall of his first year at Bowdoin. At the end of August in 1996, he happened to be driving past campus and wondered when the semester was starting. He’d been accepted to the College the previous spring, but no longer lived at the address Bowdoin had on file from his application and had not received any preparatory material. So he was surprised when the deans informed him that classes began the next day.
He scrambled to make up for the time he’d lost in missing Orientation and began the semester with the rest of the student body that week. At 26-years-old, Wil was nearly a decade older than many of his new peers. When he showed up for his classes he brought an unannounced plus-one that caught his professors off-guard: his 16-month-old daughter, Olivia, who he was raising as a single father.
Professor Roy Partridge taught Wil’s First Year Seminar, “Racism.” He hid his surprise when Olivia and Wil came to class.
“I’d never had this experience before in my life,” he said. “I’d been teaching 15-20 years.”
Bowdoin in many ways was a whole new world for Wil, although one he would remain embedded in long after graduation. He grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., the youngest of 10 children. His mother died of cancer when he was 15.
Before Bowdoin, Wil spent seven years as an aviation electronics technician, specializing in land-based anti-submarine aircraft in the Navy. He enlisted three years after he finished high school and served in the first Gulf War. He was deployed to all corners of the globe: Sicily, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Iceland, Greenland, Panama, Puerto Rico and Argentina.
Growing up he had loved to read and learn about different places and people, and travel was one of the aspects he most enjoyed about the Navy. While deployed overseas, he made extra effort to immerse himself in the places he was stationed, often venturing to areas the Navy had told him not to go in search of normal people living everyday life. He was frequently in places he did not speak the language of, but he communicated with charades or napkin-drawings. He says he “learned from the common people that most people in this world just want to go about their business, they’re not concerned with these issues that the government is waging wars about.”
When I spoke with him, he was reticent about his war stories and careful not to sensationalize his experiences in the Navy, evincing the humility and tendency to emphasize his role as always one piece of a collaboration, rather than take credit or attention for himself. He consented to tell me one story about the time he was sure he would get shot down flying a special operations mission over Turkey.
“I guess the Turkish government didn’t know we were there and they sent planes up and I was looking out the window and I was looking at these jet planes with these missiles ready to fire and somebody yelling in the headphones. I thought we were goners. And then within seconds they were gone, and I caught my breath again.”
When he was not deployed, Wil was based at the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, which ultimately connected him to the College. He had played baseball, basketball and football in high school and in his off-hours, he coached football and basketball at the Brunswick Junior High School. (Men’s soccer Head Coach Scott Wiercinski was one of the students he coached in basketball.) Some parents were initially skeptical of him, but his dedication to the kids on the team quickly won them over. It was here that he met Tim Gilbride, the Bowdoin men’s basketball coach, who would eventually convince Wil to apply to Bowdoin and to play on the basketball team.
The transition from life in the Navy to life as a student at Bowdoin had a steep learning curve for Wil. He was one of three African-American students in the class of 2000.
He hadn’t told anyone at Bowdoin much about his situation. He was living off-campus and took Olivia with him everywhere because he couldn’t afford daycare. Having missed Orientation, he didn’t know about how to sign up for a meal plan, or that he didn’t have to buy all his books but could read them on reserve in the library. In the Navy he had learned how to tinker with the hardware of computers but had never used word processing. He hadn’t been in a formal classroom since high school and did not feel his high school had prepared him for the rigors of Bowdoin:
“I had never been asked to write a critical paper, where I had to show, create a strong thesis and support it with evidence from the text.”
Wil struggled. He failed a Latin American history class with Professor Allen Wells because he wasn’t able to buy all the books; Dean Tim Foster was the Dean of First Year Students at the time and Wil was the first student he met with on the job. Foster recalls that Wil lost nearly 20 pounds and he vocalized anger at “the manifestation of a very unfair and unjust education system in the U.S. playing itself out at Bowdoin co-starring [himself].”
His classes introduced him to material and modes of thinking he had never encountered in high school. In the divides between his classmates and himself, he saw the disparities between most Bowdoin students—whose high school education had prepared them to be leaders—and the people from his community who he felt had been prepared, “at best, to be managers at McDonalds.”
“We never talked about the grand theories of social structure,” he recalled. “Where I came from we talked about racism as a practical entity which we were experiencing, but never studied it in a sociological or economic framework. To hear that some of these kids came understanding the frameworks, was in many ways maddening to me, because this was the first time as a 27-year-old, who had been in a war and travelled around the world, had ever heard these concepts. And it made me feel like I was never meant to understand them.”
His difficulties did not go unnoticed. That first fall Professor Partridge went to the dean’s office to ask what kind of support they could give Wil. Foster told me that the College was prepared to do nontraditional things to help a nontraditional student succeed.
Betty Trout-Kelly, the assistant to the president for multicultural affairs and affirmative action, reached out. She said she didn’t know what Wil was dealing with, but that Bowdoin would not let him go through it alone. After telling his story, the administration quickly marshaled resources for Wil. They got him an apartment in Brunswick Apartments and a meal plan. An alum donated $25,000 to cover child care expenses for Olivia.
The more time he spent with students at Bowdoin, the more he began to think differently about being a student here. Basketball season started and the team immediately embraced Wil.
“I got to know my friends on the team, those guys were really good to me, and some of my babysitters for Olivia. They were good people. And it was hard for me to reconcile my disdain for a group of people when they were treating me so kindly.”
His teammates, Coach Gilbride and his wife, Lisa, were among the first people he trusted with Olivia and remain some of his closest friends.
He remembered a turning point in an Econ 102 lecture where the professor was talking about the boom of the Reagan years and the benefits of supply-side economics. He saw the other students nodding in agreement but felt that growing up had shown him that the things at the top never quite trickle all the way down.
“In my community, it was none of the rosy stuff that this guy was describing. It was rampant unemployment, crack cocaine, the beginning of the war against drugs, the war against black men,” he remembered. He started building relationships with other students too, who were interested in hearing and learning more about his experiences.
He got involved with a group of students on campus who “challenged the school to change the composition of the school, the demographics of the school, and it wasn’t just the students of color at the time, it was a lot of the majority students as well. They wanted people from backgrounds who were not like theirs to enhance their education.”
When Wil graduated in 2000, he ascended the museum steps carrying Olivia. The two of them received his degree in sociology and economics and a standing ovation from the crowd. As a senior, he was the captain of the basketball team and received the athletics award for outstanding commitment to community service, an award which was later renamed in his honor. After graduation he stayed at Bowdoin, in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs , working to continue the diversity initiatives he had begun as a student.
After several years, Wil left Bowdoin and got his law degree at the University of Maine, although soon after his graduation, Foster and several other administrators took him out for dinner and implored him to return to Bowdoin as the associate dean of multicultural affairs, a position they had created for Wil. Wil returned to the College dedicated to changing Bowdoin from—in his words—an institution for smart, East Coast kids that didn’t get into the Ivies to a place for dedicated students from high schools across the country.
- November 15
Bottom of the Barrel: Tavernello Pinot Grigio: getting what you pay for
Trevor comes home from school.
“How was school?”
“Okay. We had a test.”
- November 15
Wrightly so: Jogging my way out of social obscurity: how Bowdoin got me healthy
Until recently, I had not been one for exercise. I had not been one for any form of movement, really. There was little I enjoyed more than sitting around doing absolutely nothing. In fact, there is still nothing I enjoy more than doing nothing. However, I now force myself over to the Buck Center six out of seven evenings to, as the kids say, “Lift, bro.”
To be honest, lifting is not actually a part of my routine. I just said that because I wanted to be cool, and I should be ashamed of myself. Nonetheless, it is true that I have incorporated going to the gym into my daily routine.
Some days ago it came to me in a dream that I should get in shape. In the dream I saw someone with a wonderfully ripped torso and excellent calves standing in front of a mirror. Even in the dream I knew that person was certainly not me, but I couldn’t help wishing he was. The little green monster of envy began to get to me.
- November 15
Talk of the Quad: A bathroom pitch: networking in the stalls
There is a Spartan feel to the men’s restroom in Smith Union. It has three reddish-brown stalls, three sinks and two urinals. The floor is an industrial sort of teal and remarkably clean for one of the most heavily trafficked bathrooms on campus. The walls are almost bare—unadorned except for the sheet of paper hanging above the leftmost urinal, advertising Sustainable Bowdoin’s strategies for being green.
Last time I used one of those urinals, I was reading that piece of paper for what felt like the third or fourth time. The poster boards in other parts of Smith are a veritable orgy of ever-changing color.
They advertise poetry readings and lectures, parties and candidates for student government. Yet despite this flashiness, these posters are rarely read.
Arts & Entertainment
Snapshot: Behind the radio: The WBOR studio
cinema scope: ‘12 Years a Slave’: imperfect and honest
Poor “12 Years a Slave.” In just three short months this film has fallen prey—if not to its own excellence—than least to critical perception of that excellence. Earlier this fall the film debuted at a series of North American festivals to near-universal praise. By my count, no fewer than 10 critics have declared the film this year’s presumptive Oscar Best Picture winner, and this was all long before the public was able to see the film.
Recently the film has drawn a swell backlash. Instead of “is it good?” critics are now asking, “how good is it, really?” Is director Steve McQueen’s depiction of slavery politically insightful or simply aesthetically detached? These are fruitful questions; this film is not perfect. But my point is that the sheer volume of judgment and critiques that preceded viewers’ experience robbed them of the opportunity to encounter it—for better or worse—it without preconception.
It’s dangerous and ultimately pointless for a critic to deem a film an Oscar winner in any context outside of an Oscar preview; the statement tells us nothing about the film’s content of intrinsic value. And given the past few years’ winners, such a prediction could even be considered a minor insult—if “12 Years a Slave” does take home an Oscar for Best Picture, it will be far and above the most intelligent and immersive film to do so in at least six or seven years, perhaps much longer.
Snapshot: Sounds of 1910
48-Hour Film Festival yields three student films
“Fast, exciting, creative,” were three words Bowdoin Film Society (BFS) co-President Monica Das ’14 used to describe last weekend’s 48-Hour Film Festival.
The Festival, which began in 2008, challenges students to dedicate a single weekend to making a movie. As the name of the festival implies, participants have only 48 hours to write, cast, shoot and edit a 10-minute film. Prizes for each movie are awarded at a screening the following weekend.
BFS co-President Isabelle Franks ’14 says that the festival provides a unique opportunity for students to get involved in filmmaking while at Bowdoin.
Eggert awarded Maine Art Commission Fellowship
Assistant Professor of Art Alicia Eggert recently received the Maine Art’s Commission 2014 Visual Arts Fellowship. This $13,000 award is the Commision’s largest unrestricted grant, awarded based on artistic excellence and merit.
Eggert has been on sabbatical this semester, and just completed a two-month artist residency in New York City through Sculpture Space.
The Maine Arts Commission, whose mission is to “encourage and stimulate public interest and cultural heritage of the state and assist freedom of public expression,” hosts an open round of applications for this fellowship, with different categories in including visual arts and performing/media arts.
Creation Theories: Inside the writing process of former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl
For Betsy Sholl, poetry is an exercise in ventriloquism. On the pages of her notebook—she starts each draft with pen and paper—she channels a voice different from the one that carried across the table to me in her cozy Portland kitchen. I had asked, perhaps unfairly, to what extent the voice of her poems is her own.
“I would hope on some level the voice is mine,” she laughed. “But I do try to get the first person pronoun out of my poems—I want to be an ‘eye’ more than a capital ‘I’.”
Sholl has not always emphasized such an observational voice. In her earlier years, her mouth overpowered her eye.
Portrait of an artist: Mik Cooper '14
If you ask Mik Cooper ’14 how she got into photography, she’ll tell you it was mostly by chance. At age 13, her father gave her his 35 mm film camera—a relic from the ’70s.
“From there I just started… developing photos and printing,” she said.
She started printing in her high school’s darkroom, working exclusively with black and white film. Then, she began to take darkroom classes at school, and later spent a few summers taking courses at the International Center for Photography in New York.
- November 15
LIVE MY LIEF: Manipulating Internet culture with optimism
Steve Roggenbuck, a 26-year-old rising Internet bard with nearly 15,000 Twitter followers, shared his work on campus last week.
Many of us have thought at one time, “My professor is wrong.” And some of us have felt the urge to abandon college and pursue something we are more passionate about. But few of us ever act on these moments. Steve Roggenbuck, a rising poet best known for his viral YouTube videos, did exactly that.
After completing a degree in English at Central Michigan University, Roggenbuck began courses at Columbia College Chicago for his Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Poetry. However, when his professors discouraged his more playful poetry—inspired by beat writers and Walt Whitman—he eventually dropped out.
- November 15
Snark Week: Spears and Jesus: The Comeback Kids
At 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, I’m sitting in Moulton, discussing Britney Spears and Jesus. More specifically their collective comeback. I asked my dinner companion: What does Britney represent in 2013? What does the album title Britney Jean really mean? Is it an oblique reference to that time she and Justin Timberlake wore matching jean suits? Or is it because her middle name is Jean? Is it socially acceptable to purchase Britney’s 13th fragrance? Was it acceptable to purchase her 12th and 11th?
Then we started talking about Jesus. There’s a new musical out titled “SPEARS: The Gospel According to Britney.” Patrick Blute, the creator, claimed in a Fox News article that this will be “the greatest story ever told to the greatest music ever written.” Blute—a Columbia grad—is careful to say that the show is not meant to be rude. He assures us that the musical, “tells an essential story using fragments of pop culture in a non-offensive way.” Blute says the piece is meant to reconcile “the anxiety 20-somethings feel about living in a society that has thousands of statements and not much substance.”
The musical played to this key audience when it opened at Columbia before moving into New York City.
- November 15
Portrait of an artist: Daniel Eloy '15
Daniel Eloy ’15 is the type of person who will tell you his opinion about pretty much anything. When he met me in Smith Union, he had just rushed from the art studio; half-wearing a scarf, he immediately slumped into an armchair. His voice was barely audible over the rambunctious conversations in the Union, but his words had weight (and marked lack of pettiness) so I leaned in to catch everything.
Most recently, Eloy proposed and executed the much-discussed “We Stand With You” photo-installation in response to this fall’s bias incidents. His work involved taking and editing portraits of 544 students.
“I just wanted people to look at them and feel like there was a sense of community here even in the face of bias and hate,” said Eloy.
Interactive: 'Mules are sterile:' A look at the 91-year rivalry between Bowdoin and Colby
“We see them in our sleep.”
This is how Ben Smith, Coach of the 1998 U.S. women’s hockey team, described the team’s Canadian rivals in an interview with the New York Times leading up to their Olympic matchup.
It’s fair to guess that some Bowdoin hockey players may spend tonight similarly fixated on an opponent from the North, though the rival in question is Colby, not Canada. Today the Polar Bears will defend the first of last year’s decisive victories over the Mules. The rivalry between the two teams is a classic grudge match, and this year’s games continue a long and storied tradition.
Field Hockey plays Christopher Newport University in Final Four today
The field hockey team will play in the NCAA D-III Final Four this weekend in Virginia Beach after topping New Paltz State and Montclair State last weekend. Bowdoin takes on Christopher Newport University at 11 a.m. today for the right to advance to the national championship game against the winner of the game between Salisbury and Skidmore.
The Polar Bears return to the national semifinals for the seventh time in the last nine years, having claimed the Division III title in ’07, ’08 and ’10.
On Friday, the Polar Bears faced New Paltz State in the second round of the tournament, securing a 5-2 win over the Hawks. Less than five minutes into the game, Rachel Kennedy ’16 fed a long pass to Emily Simonton ’15, who wristed the shot just inside the left post, giving Bowdoin an early lead. Despite New Paltz taking three consecutive corners, the Polar Bears were able to counter each and preserve the lead. Before the end of the first half, Katie Riley ’14 added an unassisted shot to bring the lead up to 2-0.
Women's hockey gears up for opening match against Colby
Men's hockey struggles in their opening weekend
The men’s hockey team, defending NESCAC Champion, is still looking for a win this season after an opening weekend of mixed results. The Polar Bears tied Middlebury 2-2 last Friday, before losing to Williams 5-2 the following Sunday.
The team started out with an early lead in Friday’s game against Middlebury, with Kendall Culbertson ’17 scoring a transition goal—his first as a Polar Bear—at the 12-minute mark. Middlebury responded with a goal of its own less than two minutes into the second period, and within 15 minutes, the Panthers took the lead with another quick goal.
Roughly halfway into the third period, John McGinnis ’15 managed to tie the game, sending it into overtime. Neither team was able to score in the extra frame.
NESCAC Coach of the Year Marissa O'Neil '05 enters fourth season with high hopes
Head Coach of the women’s hockey team, Marissa O’Neil ’05, began playing hockey at age four. She grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she practiced on the rink in her back yard. She was always the only girl on her hockey teams until she was 16.
She continued playing hockey in high school. After attending Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire, she applied and came to Bowdoin as a student athlete, playing both ice and field hockey. She was coached by current Head Coach Nicky Pearson in field hockey. O’Neil received several athletic awards while at Bowdoin. For field hockey, she received the Rookie of the Year award in 2001, the NESCAC Player of the Year award in 2003, a First Team All-American, and was a three-time First Team All-NESCAC selection. As an ice hockey player, she was named to the 2003 NCAA Division III All-Tournament team, and was a three-time All-NESCAC honoree.
Additionally, she received the Lucy L. Shulman Award in 2005, which is given to the most outstanding female athlete of the year.
Women’s soccer eliminated from NCAA tournament
Though the women’s soccer team captured its first NCAA D-III Tournament win since 1999 this past Saturday, it was eliminated from the competition on Sunday after falling 7-0 to regional host Montclair State.
The Polar Bears finished their regular season seeded third in the conference at 11-2-1 (7-2-1 NESCAC) but lost to Tufts in the NESCAC quarterfinals. However, the team’s season continued two weeks later after earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Bowdoin drew Christopher Newport University, which boasted a 14-3-2 record, on Saturday for its first-round matchup. The game was close from the start, with both sides fighting to take a first-half lead. The Polar Bears very nearly took the lead 15 minutes in, as winger Abby Einwag ’15 let a shot rip from the left of the goal, forcing CNU goalkeeper Haley Casanova to make a diving stop.
Athlete of the Week: John Swords '15
John Swords ’15 set the bar high after his strong play in the Regis College Tip-Off Tournament, averaging 14.5 points per game and 11 rebounds in two games. His effort was enough to win the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
The seven-foot center created mismatches for the opposing teams, neither of whom had a player of comparable size. While NESCAC opponents are more likely to have players who can defend Swords, he is still the tallest player in the conference.
Swords started playing basketball in elementary school but gave it up to play hockey, following the lead of his two brothers. After ninth grade, he stopped playing and resumed basketball because he questioned his skating ability. Even at that time he was almost seven feet tall, including skates. Swords started working on improving his basketball skills, practicing with his best friend over the summer. He played very little during his first year with the team, but saw more time as a high school junior, and earned a captainship as a senior.
Kutztown ends women’s rugby’s run in Elite Eight
The women’s rugby team began its final weekend of play last Saturday by knocking off Hamilton 39-22 in the Sweet 16 round of American College Rugby Associaton (ACRA) national tournament play before falling to Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University in the Elite Eight.
“Hamilton came ready to blow us away,” said Head Coach MaryBeth Mathews. “The game was a lot closer than the final score makes it look.”
The Polar Bears opened scoring in the 14th minute of play when Samantha Hoegle ’17 sprinted past Hamilton’s defense. Just 10 minutes later the Continentals drove back to score a try of their own, bringing the score to 5-5. Hoegle scored again six minutes later, followed by another try from Amanda Montenegro ’14. After a Hamilton try, Addison Carvajal ’16 scored at the end of the first half.
D-III Regionals have mixed results for cross country teams
For the men’s and women’s cross-country teams, hopes ran high at the University of Southern Maine this past weekend. Both teams competed in the NCAA Regional Championships, where a strong finish could have improved their respective rankings and ensure each team a bid for the National Championships. Though the teams fell a bit short of expectations—the men were just one place shy of finishing in a position to earn a bid to Nationals—Head Coach Peter Slovenski said that the Polar Bears have much to be proud of.Women
The women’s team—originally seeded 14th in the New England regional polls—finished the competition in 11th place.“Four of the women’s team runners ran personal best times. They took advantage of the big race atmosphere and used the crowd to help them run their best,” said Slovenski. Runners who achieved personal records included Lucy Skinner ’16, who finished ninth with a time of (21:35.23), which shattered her previous best time by a full 60 seconds, and Brenna Fischer ’15, who beat her previous best by 20 seconds, turning in a time of 23:42.02. First years Gillian Kramer and Caroline Corban also ran personal best races, finishing with times of 23:42.02 and 23:30.12, respectively.Skinner started off at 40th place in the first mile, but moved up to 23rd by the end of the second. She shot up to fourth place in mile three to end in ninth overall.“Our coach does a good job at making sure we peak at the right time,” said Skinner. “Also, my teammates were really supportive and a lot of people were cheering. It just all came together”“Lucy showed the best composure,” Slovenski added. “She stayed relaxed and accelerated throughout the race. It’s hard to pass other runners in high level races, but she passed 14 all-star runners in the final two miles.”Senior captain Madelena Rizzo was another standout; her time of 22:14:04 was the second fastest posted by a Polar Bear and earned her 32nd place in the meet. Rizzo and Skinner both earned places on the All-New England team and Skinner’s personal best was enough to qualify her for the NCAA National Championship in Indiana.“Our coach does a good job at making sure we peak at the right time. Also my teammates were really supportive and a lot of people were cheering. It just all came together”Coach Slovenski said another contributor to Skinner’s success was the ease with which she approached the race.“Lucy showed the best composure. She stayed relaxed and accelerated throughout the race,” Slovenski said. “It’s hard to pass other runners in high level races, but she passed 14 all-star runners in the final two miles.”Men
The men’s team was seeded fifth but ended the day in seventh place.“Some other teams did a better job of peaking,” Slovenski said. “We ran pretty well, but we didn’t have a great peak at the regional as we usually do”Captain Sam Seekins ’14 agreed with Slovenski.“We were hoping to be at least top five to qualify for nationals…Enough guys on the team had an off day to where we ended up being edged off by Colby and Bates, both of whom we had beaten earlier in the season, but they unfortunately beat us in the most important race,” he said.Despite the team-wide disappointment, the men still enjoyed some successes at the meet. For example, captain Coby Horowitz ’14, Nick Saba ’14 and Seekins all achieved all-New England team honors.Horowitz, the team’s top runner, finished fourth in the 8K with a time of 24:42:18. He ran most of the race in eighth position at the rear of the front pack. He moved up to sixth with a mile to go and passed two more runners to finish in fourth place.Other Bowdoin runners found themselves in the top 60. Seekins placed 28th, turning in a time of 25:21:81; Saba was 34th (25:30:81), and Kevin Hoose ’15 placed 55th (26:00:15) with Greg Talpey ’14 close behind at 56th (26:00:44).Horowitz will join Skinner at the NCAA Championship at Hanover College in Indiana tomorrow.
Women’s basketball starts hot at 3-0
The women’s basketball team opened its season by winning the Salem Tip-Off Tournament at Salem State last weekend, defeating Norwich 66-55 and Salem State 81-49. The Polar Bears carried this momentum to their home opener on Tuesday, beating Endicott 67-56.
Head Coach Adrienne Shibles cited the team’s improved chemistry and fitness as reasons for the early success.
“Our chemistry has always been solid, but this year it’s exceptional,” Shibles said. “They’re all on the same page in terms of where we want to go this season, which makes my job as coach easier.”