Following criticism expressed on social media, as well as an email sent by concerned students, MacMillan House decided to change the theme of its Gender Bender campus-wide party that had been originally planned for tonight. The House also held a discussion yesterday about the event.
Members of the House began planning the party before Thanksgiving vacation with the goal of creating discussion about gender identity outside of a typical setting.
“One of the attractive things about hosting a campus-wide was that it engages a greater range of people and a more diverse group of individuals,” said Conor Belfield ’19, MacMillan House president. “There was never a time when we were just like, ‘This would be funny.’ There was always a clearly stated goal to bring greater conversation to the topic of gender identity.”
According to Belfield, many House members were initially skeptical of the idea, so they decided to consult Director of the Resource for Sexual and Gender Diversity Kate Stern for advice. Stern referred the House to Bowdoin Queer-Straight Alliance (BQSA).
Rose Etzel ’19, a member of BQSA and Gender Matters, a discussion group and supportive space for trans/genderqueer/non-binary-identified students with about seven active members, said that many students in BQSA were also not comfortable with the theme of the campus-wide. The group ultimately agreed to it on the condition that the House host a panel prior to the party to discuss the event. However, not enough people wanted to speak on the panel, and it was cancelled. Despite the panel’s cancellation, the House continued with the party idea.
A Facebook event for the party was created on Tuesday, and posters featuring cross-dressed House members were hung up around campus the following day.
Soon after, a number of students took to Facebook to express their frustrations and concerns about the event. While many recognized MacMillan’s good intentions, they found the setting of the event—a campus-wide party—to be problematic.
“My concerns were that as a party theme, it’s not cognisant of the history of how trans people are perceived and how gender nonconformity is perceived,” said Paul Cheng ’17, a member of BQSA and Gender Matters. “Exhibiting those things in the setting of party, even if I know their goals were good, to create a discussion or create visibility for these things, makes it feel more insulting than anything honestly.”
One other criticism of the event was that the House did not partner with Gender Matters. Belfield said that in hindsight, this was one of many major mistakes the House made.
“I am very disappointed in us, as a House, that we were not able to find [Gender Matters] and communicate with them, because we wanted to. If we had [had] that conversation, we could’ve done something different,” Belfield said. “I was trying to be an ally and I think a lot of other people were. And we messed up.”
Members of Gender Matters and other concerned students sent an email to MacMillan House Wednesday night explaining their objections to the party and demanding that the theme be changed.
As a result of the backlash, the House planned a new event, “Continue the Discussion: Is the Gender Bender a Positive Event?” to listen to criticism of the event and create conversation in a public manner. However, there were mixed responses leading up to the event.
“I’m very happy with the discussion that has been coming,” said Etzel. “At the heart of it, I don’t think [the party] should have happened in the first place, but [MacMillan] made the best of a sticky situation, and I’m very happy with how receptive they’ve been. I think that ultimately it’s good that this conversation is happening.”
“Our plan for the most part is to shut up and listen to people, since we know we’ve hurt people,” said Belfield. “We also do recognize this discussion is inherently flawed. In Gender Matters’ letter to us, they said many of them will not be attending since they do not feel comfortable and do not want to be tokenized. That was never our intent. We have no desire to force people to come and talk about how they’re feeling. We just want to give the space to those who wanted it.”
The meeting took place last night and roughly 30 students attended. MacMillan House started the event by issuing an apology before opening the space for discussion. Topics covered included the role of College Houses as safe spaces on campus and whether Facebook is an appropriate medium for this type of discussion.
Shu-Shu Hsia ’19, who was first to post in the campus-wide Facebook event, believes that conversation through social media was a good way to discuss the issue.
“I feel like talking about it online was a pretty effective way, which is why I don’t feel like [MacMillan House members] were being genuine when they say that wanted a discussion to take place,” Hsia said. “Immediately, when we started to say that we weren’t comfortable with the idea, they were trying to funnel the discussion into private emails. I don’t know why everyone is so against talking online. This is the most powerful communication tool we’ve ever had.”
Moving forward, Etzel said that Gender Matters and BQSA are looking for ways to continue the conversation beyond this event. One idea they have is to create a poster series next semester that combats the conflation of gender identity, gender expression and gender performance.
Rose rejects sanctuary label, pledges to support undocumented students
In a preemptive response to a student petition calling on college administrators to make Bowdoin a sanctuary campus, President Clayton Rose affirmed the College’s support for undocumented students but stated that the College could not meet the criteria to become a sanctuary campus. The students involved in writing and circulating the petition are still planning on presenting the petition to Rose today.
“The stakes for [undocumented] students who may be at risk have never been higher, and we have an obligation as a college to make sure that we are straight with our students about what we can and cannot do for them. And we will do everything we can within our power to assist them,” he said in a phone interview with the Orient. “But there are things that may be legally out of our ability to control. In those circumstances, students need to understand that and to be prepared.”
Seniors Leah Alper and Julia Berkman-Hill began circulating the petition that called on college administrators to “stand with other colleges and universities and investigate how to make Bowdoin a sanctuary campus that will protect our current and future students from intimidation, unfair investigation, and deportation.” As of press time, 870 Bowdoin students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members had signed it.
The petition and Rose’s response—delivered through a campus-wide email on November 22—come at a time when many higher education institutions are grappling with how to respond to potential changes in immigration policy under the presidency of Donald Trump. Changes could include increased immigration enforcement and a repeal of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children from deportation.
Along with over 400 other college presidents, Rose signed a statement on November 21 in support of upholding DACA. Moreover, Rose wrote in his email to the College that “unless compelled by law, [the College] will do nothing that would put a member of our community in … jeopardy.”
However, Rose also felt strongly that it would be wrong to declare Bowdoin a sanctuary campus.
“The question presented by this petition (and by others like it) is whether Bowdoin or other colleges and universities could effectively declare our campuses to be havens where immigration laws cannot be enforced. Legal counsel tells us that we have no such power, so to make this kind of declaration would be both disingenuous and falsely reassuring,” he wrote in his email.
Despite Rose’s commitment to not designating Bowdoin a sanctuary campus, Alper plans to present the petition to him today. She pointed to other colleges and universities that have declared as sanctuary campuses.
“Wesleyan has declared as a sanctuary campus … [and] places like Columbia have declared as sanctuary campuses,” she said. “If you look at [President Rose’s] email and compare it to the statements made by the other 28 college presidents who have declared as sanctuary campuses, the language is very similar.”
For Alper, the sanctuary designation is part of a larger movement and carries symbolic weight.
“This is a declaration that undocumented students belong on campus and will be welcomed here,” she said. “The more schools that sign onto it will not only help students on our campus but also potentially students on other campuses.”
Alper, along with a larger group of students, is looking forward to having a conversation with Rose about College policies under a Trump presidency.
“We are just thinking about what does Bowdoin need in all realms—not just undocumented students,” said Alper. “Something that I’m personally interested in is making sure that birth control is covered under Bowdoin’s insurance—even if it’s not required to be.”
Moving forward, Rose declined to speculate about how the College would respond to specific changes in immigration policy before they occurred. However, he did say that the College would “provide support in a number of different areas for those of our students who may be in these at-risk categories.”
This could include helping at-risk students get access to legal counsel as well as continuing the policies that Rose mentioned in his campus-wide email.
“The College already safeguards student privacy and confidentiality. We do not discriminate with regard to student housing, nor do we use E-Verify, and our Safety and Security personnel do not enforce immigration laws or make inquiries about the immigration status of students or employees,” he wrote.
Professor Emeritus Mayo leaves legacy in community, chemistry lab
Professor Emeritus Dana Mayo, who taught chemistry at Bowdoin for over 25 years, died in his home in Topsham on Saturday. Mayo was internationally known as a leader in infrared (IR) spectroscopy, a researcher in oil pollution and a pioneer in the development of microscale lab techniques used in teaching chemistry. He was known at Bowdoin as a community member through and through.
Mayo came to Bowdoin in 1962, attracted by its location in Maine. He went on Outing Club trips in the 60s and 70s with his colleague and friend Samuel S. Butcher, also a professor emeritus of chemistry. The two, along with Professor Ronald Pike of Merrimack College, worked together to develop microscale techniques for undergraduates.
“Our kids were nearly the same age, so that kind of bonds people together,” said Butcher in a phone interview with the Orient. “He was a very easy person to get along with.”
Mayo came to Bowdoin following seven years of service in the U.S. Air Force and two years as a fellow at MIT’s School for Advanced Study. He earned his Ph.D at Indiana University.
“One thing that really stands out in my view, in terms of contribution, was the microscale [lab technique development]. That impacted chemistry far beyond Bowdoin,” said Butcher.
The new laboratory techniques were designed to use smaller quantities of chemicals in order to reduce health risks, environmental damage and cost.
“[Mayo] was excited while finding new ways to do dozens and dozens of reactions that had been carried out for a long time at a large scale. And all of those had to be boiled down to something much smaller,” said Butcher. “He was very inventive in doing that. He brought a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm.”
Designing lab experiments to create only a drop of a chemical—as opposed to a tablespoon—was, according to Butcher, something previously only done in research lab settings.
“It was a tremendous job to come up with those methods and applications, make adjustments, and also convince other chemistry lab instructors that indeed it could be done,” said Butcher. “When we started, I think a lot of chemistry faculty just threw up their hands and said, ‘How can you do this with 18-year olds?’ They just thought it was impossible.”
His microscale organic chemistry curriculum was adopted by more than 400 colleges and universities in the United States.
“[He was] someone who devoted himself entirely to the benefit of his students, of his colleagues, of the faculty and making Bowdoin a better college,” said President Clayton Rose in a phone interview with the Orient.
Mayo’s work was recognized not just at the College itself but beyond Bowdoin as well.
With his team of Butcher and Pike, Mayo won the first Charles A. Dana Award for Pioneering Achievement in Higher Education in 1986 and the 1987 American Chemical Society Health and Safety Award. With Pike, he also won the 1988 James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievements in Teaching Chemistry by the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society. In addition, Mayo individually received a National Catalyst Award from the Chemical Manufacturers Association in 1989.
At Bowdoin, Mayo and Butcher were awarded the Bowdoin Prize, the College’s highest honor, according to Rose. The two are the only non-alumni who have received the award.
Mayo’s wife, O. Jeanne d’Arc Mayo, former Bowdoin physical therapist and athletic trainer, survives him, along with his two sons, a daughter and seven grandchildren.
Microaggression photos go viral, elicit controversial reactions
Photos from the #ThisIs2016 photoshoot by Bowdoin’s Asian Students Association (ASA) and South Asian Students Association (SASA) went viral on Facebook, with 85,000 album shares, 5,000 individual photo shares and 18 million total views in a span of two weeks.
ASA and SASA uploaded the photos—which are also hanging in David Saul Smith Union—to Facebook on November 18.
“My friend in Korea messaged me the other day and said she saw the album, but from her other friends, not from my status,” said ASA Secretary Arah Kang ’19, who helped organize the project. “I left for Thanksgiving break and we had just broken 100 likes. But now look at it—over 30,000! We had no idea it would leave this campus, let alone go worldwide.”
The project originally drew inspiration from a New York Times article written by Asian-American editor Michael Luo. In the article, published in October, Luo directly addresses a stranger who yelled “Go back to China!” at his family, Asian-Americans across the nation responded to Luo and his encounter by using the hashtag #ThisIs2016 and sharing their stories of confronting racism. Luo’s piece, in addition to the timing of the divisive election and No Hate November, served as inspiration for the project.
As the project has gained an immense following, much of the attention has been directed at the comment threads on the photos. Since the subject material touches on sensitive and often controversial themes, it has elicited a wide range of strong responses, some supportive and some polemical.
Many Facebook users argued that students involved in the project were overreacting to comments. In response to a photo of a female Indian student holding a whiteboard reading, “Are you going to have an arranged marriage?” one Facebook user commented: “It’s actually a perfectly reasonable question and anyone from India would expect another Indian to ask the same. This is not racist or bigoted in any way.”
Other commenters supported the students and their reactions resolutely. In response to a photo of an Asian student holding a whiteboard that read, “I guess you’re pretty … for an Asian #ThisIs2016,” one user commented, “Oh my gosh, I hate this one! I get it too. ‘Oh, you’re so pretty for a dark skinned girl’ … As if because I’m dark I would automatically not be pretty.”
“We understand that posting our project publicly online is an open invite to criticism,” said Irfan Alam ’18, president of SASA. “There will always be internet trolls who will say whatever they want. Now we’re thinking of ways to respond to the comments as an organization, because so far it’s just been individuals reaching out. But it’s amazing that our message is getting out there.”
Alam was pleased to see the students’ message resonate outside of Bowdoin.
“As I look at the photo album and all the comments, I think about how much we get stuck inside the ‘Bowdoin Bubble,’” he said. “I’m amazed at how many people—not just nationally, but internationally—understood the sentiments I expressed on my photo. We really shattered the bubble.”
At the same time, most non-Bowdoin Facebook users didn’t have the same context for the project that students did.
“We developed the project thinking it would be seen solely by Bowdoin students,” said President of ASA Mitsuki Nishimoto ’17. “Because it’s gotten so popular, some of the context is missing and the comments might not have the clearest understanding of our goal and of who the students in the pictures are.”
Though they did not expect that they would receive such passionate responses from around the world, leaders of ASA and SASA are very happy with the following that the project has garnered and the attention it has brought to microaggressions.
“I’ve heard these types of jokes starting in elementary school, and at that age, we don’t know how to respond to it, so we become desensitized to it,” Kang said. “People are saying ‘You must have it easy with racism, being Asian,’ but one type of microaggression is not better or worse than someone else’s. None of them are okay.”
Multiple outlets, including Upworthy, have contacted ASA and SASA in recent days to report on the ascendancy of their project. Moving forward, ASA and SASA leaders are now focusing on contextualizing their project for a broader audience.
“The project might end with the photos, but the discussions won’t,” Nishimoto said.
Two new cases of mumps reported
Two new cases of mumps were diagnosed on November 22 and 23, bringing the total number of cases since November 1 to seven, according to Director of Health Services Jeffrey Maher. Both infected students were vaccinated, and both have completed their five days of isolation and are no longer contagious. The new all clear date, through which unvaccinated students are required to remain in exclusion, is December 11.
Editor's note, Thursday, December 8, 9:24: This article has been updated to correct a misspelling in the headline.
NASA organizes first Native heritage month at Bowdoin
Concerned about low membership, club emphasizes outreach.
The Native American Student Association (NASA) put on Bowdoin’s first Native American Heritage Month in November featuring multiple speakers and events. The program focused on intersectionality and outreach, as the club voiced concerns about low membership.
“Last year [the club had] six Native American students, and now it’s back to two,” aid NASA co-leader Dylan Goodwill ’17.
She pointed to NASA’s lack of a formal adviser and the absence of Native American studies in Bowdoin’s academics as reasons for the club’s low membership. The College does not have a Native American studies program, and there are no courses being taught next semester with “Native” or “Indian” in the title.
“The only Native American faculty or staff member is JT Tyler, and he’s on security,” Goodwill said. “So he’s cool, we hang out with him. But … we just need more support.”
NASA planned these events in part to bring Native American culture to Bowdoin’s campus on its own terms.
“We are tired of having to do these talks about cultural appropriation,” Goodwill said. “This is something that’s not about us in a Halloween costume, it’s showing what’s really going on… It feels like something for us instead of about us.”
NASA co-leader Rayne Sampson ’18 hoped the month could provide an opportunity for more students to engage with the Native community at Bowdoin.
“Many students who aren’t Native themselves feel a degree of hesitation about getting involved because they see it as a group for Native people by Native people,” Sampson said. “We’re hoping more people see that NASA is a way they too can get involved.”
Goodwill said that with so few students, the future of the Native American Student Association is uncertain.
She added that nearly every year, members of NASA have wondered if the organization would survive, and it always has. As she prepares to graduate in May and move back to the reservation where she grew up, Goodwill said she is proud of NASA’s accomplishments this year.
“We’re just excited that it’s our first Native American Heritage Month at Bowdoin,” Goodwill said.
One event was a panel featuring professors from Bowdoin, Dartmouth and the University of Maine called “Water is Life: Indigenous Lands & Environmental Justice.” The event was an attempt to engage with the ongoing protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and also discussed other water issues, such as lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan.
Goodwill said that the pipeline affects Native Americans across the country. She has family members who have gone to Standing Rock to protest as well as friends who are currently there.
“It’s hard knowing that I am not there,” she said. “Talking about the DAPL is a way for me to be the activist I want to be, but on Bowdoin’s campus.”
It hits close to home for her, as she is a member of the Navajo tribe who grew up on Window Rock, the largest Native American reservation in the country. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) caused the release of massive amounts of toxic wastewater into the Animas River, turning the entire river bright yellow. The Navajo nation filed a lawsuit earlier this year alleging that the EPA failed to deal with the disaster and compensate Native American who rely on the river to farm.
In Maine, the Penobscot nation has teamed up with the Department of Justice to appeal a court decision stating that the tribe’s reservation does not include the water in the Penobscot River.
“[DAPL] is just a continuation of what has been happening on all of our reservations,” Goodwill said.
Carolyn Brady '19 places fifth in Miss Maine USA, named Miss Congeniality
Carolyn Brady ’19 won Fourth Runner-Up as well as Miss Congeniality in the 2017 Miss Maine USA pageant this past weekend. Twenty-three women between the ages of 18 and 27 competed for the title of Miss Maine USA. Only five contestants, including Brady, made it to the final round.
The competition was Brady’s first pageant. Aware of the many assumptions about beauty pageants, Brady said she wanted to compete while staying true to herself.
“Unfortunately, some girls starve themselves and there are a lot of eating disorders associated with it and there can be a lot of negative images,” she said. “I really wanted to see [if I could] just be myself, and see how far that could get me.”
She also felt that she was able to meet a wide array of women who were familiar with both the benefits of the pageant—such as extensive networks and boosted confidence—and the downsides like eating disorders and low self-esteem.
“I got to meet people on both ends of the spectrum: [People] who benefitted from [the pageantry] and [people who] kind-of felt bent down about themselves. I wanted to try and uplift those [bent-down] people while tugging on the happy energy of the people on the other end,” Brady said.
A newcomer to the pageant scene, Brady competed without having done extensive research or preparation for the pageant categories.
“I went to orientation having done absolutely nothing, other than bought a dress and some shoes,” she said.
Brady excelled despite her lack of preparation and familiarity with the event. She said her primary motivation for competing was to “make new friends in the state of Maine.”
“I liked the idea of not doing any preparations for it and just going and seeing where it led me,” said Brady. “I was like, ‘Let’s just do something totally for fun, something super weird, that most people wouldn’t do.’”
Brady was awarded the title of Miss Congeniality by a popular vote of her fellow contestants, who were asked to pick the contestant who they felt was the “most sister-like” throughout the pageant.
“I don’t think I’ll do [the pageant] again, or at least not in Maine … I got the title of Miss Congeniality and that’s all I was going for,” said Brady. “I feel like that means more than if I’d practiced for eight months on how to answer a specifically scripted answer.”
News in brief: Kristof and Riley to talk free speech
Manhattan Institute fellow and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof will speak at an event titled “Up for Discussion: Free Speech and Political Correctness on College Campuses” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday in Pickard Theater. The discussion will be moderated by Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies Connie Chiang.
Registration for the event opened online on November 18 and students obtained tickets on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of students also registered to join the speakers for a “dessert reception” in Thorne Hall after the event to debrief the talk and discuss the issues raised. Tickets for both the event and the reception are no longer available.
In a November 2015 column, Kristof addressed the issue of race and free speech on campuses, writing, “What’s unfolding at universities is not just about free expression but also about a safe and nurturing environment.”
Riley expressed dismay last May after he was disinvited to speak at Virginia Tech due to concerns that his “writings on race in The Wall Street Journal would spark protests.”
Both speakers were selected by a working group of students, faculty and staff, chaired by President Clayton Rose. The choice of speakers was influenced by a survey last December gauging student interest for speakers, in which the theme of free speech and political correctness on college campuses garnered the most support.
News in brief: Jack's Juice Bar will close doors
Next week will be the last for Jack’s Juice Bar, due to its struggle to make a profit since opening in fall of 2015. An offshoot of Jack McGee’s Pub & Grill, the juice bar offers fresh-to-order fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies on weekdays, some of which will be available in the Café and the C-Store next semester.
Although the juice bar had a small regular customer base, student workers said business was typically very slow.
“There’s not a lot of people who came, and they kept doing a lot of renovations to try to make it more profitable,” said Sophie Lemkin ’19, who began working at the juice bar last semester.
Juices and smooties were priced between $3.49 and $4.99, depending on the ingredients. This semester, the juice bar cut back from two employees per shift to one.
“For a business to exist at this school at all it has to be [that] everyone would want to come there, just because it’s such a small school,” she said. “So we had a number of people who enjoyed the juice bar. If this was at a big school with the same percentage of people who liked juice, it would be a fine business.”
Lemkin said she will miss the juice bar, although students will still be able to get juice in other places.
“I don’t think the juice bar closing will really affect the Bowdoin community. It just will affect the 10 employees who worked there,” she said.
News in brief: Town enacts marijuana moratorium
On November 21, the Brunswick Town Council voted unanimously to immediately begin a 50-day moratorium that prohibits the licensing of marijuana franchises in the town, the Forecaster reported. The council will consider extending the moratorium to 180 days at a hearing scheduled for December 15. Brunswick’s Town Charter prohibits moratoriums of longer than 50 days without a public hearing.
Maine voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November by a margin of roughly 4,000 votes. The results of the election were contested and the measure will begin to undergo recount on December 5.
Assuming the results hold, the law still allows local municipalities to restrict or ban marijuana sales. Town Council members argued that a moratorium is necessary while the town decides on regulations.
Snapshot: Hit the Road, Jack
Transgender voices ask to be heard
At four in the afternoon on November 20, I was standing in Morrell Lounge, trying to hold back the tears that stung my eyes as several of my fellow Bowdoin Queer-Straight Alliance (BQSA) members read out the names of the 97 transgender people who have been murdered in the past year. With each new person, each new life taken as far away as Thailand and as nearby as Waterville, Maine, I could not stamp out the fear and pain that rose in me–and the knowledge that it could just as easily be my name or the names of my friends on that list.
But fear was not the only emotion I felt as I stood and listened for that half-hour. No, as I looked around the room, at the other students and faculty attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance event, I realized that there weren’t more than 15 people there. Other trans and non-binary people, as visibly shaken as I was, were there. Cisgender queer people and allies from BQSA were, too. Maybe one or two others as well. And that was all. When I left that room, throbbing with the sheer weight of what I had just been reminded of, I knew that I was one of the few people on this campus carrying that weight.
I received plenty of excuses from people: too much homework, bad timing and, of course, my personal favorite, “It’s not about me. This isn’t my place. I don’t have to deal with being trans or non-binary or feel the pain of each loss as if it were my own. Why should I have to care?”
This apathy is not limited solely to this moment. The queer and trans community on this campus is small, but our voices are loud enough that we should be able to be heard. And yet, no one hears us. In October, when BQSA held a vigil for the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando—the largest mass shooting in American history and one where the victims were primarily queer people of color—the turnout wasn’t much higher than it was for Transgender Day of Remembrance. Again, many claimed that the timing was bad, but these excuses no longer hold weight when we take into account that just the night before, at the same time and place, the Take Back the Night event had an overwhelmingly high number of attendees. This is not to say that queer issues are more important than any others, or that Take Back the Night attendees are somehow at fault for lack of interest in the Pulse vigil, but I simply say that when it comes to the causes that queer and trans people on this campus try to promote, nobody listens.
After the election, students on this campus from all walks of life raised a plea for solidarity and an initiative to fight back against injustice. And yet, when faced with an opportunity to actually put it into practice, they didn’t. Two weeks ago, these people were pledging to stand up for their peers, but today, they stayed seated. Two weeks ago, these people were asking what they could possibly do to show their solidarity, but today, they ignored us when we provided them with an answer. Two weeks ago, these people were promising to use their privilege for good, but today, they didn’t use it for anything good at all. Two weeks ago, these people were reassuring their friends that they would always be there for them, but today, they proved to us that they weren’t.
I’m not asking for the cisgender and heterosexual people on this campus to change who they are or feel shame in their privilege or apologize for having an advantage in society that us queer and trans people do not. All I’m asking is that you come to the events that we put on: the panels, the workshops, the vigils. All I’m asking is that you refer to us with the pronouns that we have told you to use, whether or not we are there to hear them. All I am asking is that you listen to our voices, which is not hard, because we are literally screaming in order to be heard. All I am asking is that you care.
Ari Mehrberg is a member of the Class of 2020.
The Feminist Manifesto: White liberals must accept their racial biases to promote equality
Trump’s recent election has legitimized and drawn widespread attention to the racism that has been present in our country since its inception. This reality is not news to people of color, like Hayley, one of this article’s authors, who have been and still are marginalized and devalued by these systems of oppression. Yet it has shocked many white liberals, like Emma, the other author. While it is easy for white liberals to exclusively blame Trump and his supporters for his win, it is important to consider how they may also be implicated in and reinforce the racism that directly contributed to Trump’s rise.
“But what? I’m not racist! I voted for Hillary!” some may say. Others may chime in, “One of my best friends is black! How could I be racist?” We hate to break it to you, but everyone—ourselves included—has unconscious racial biases because we live in a racist society. We’re not going to sugarcoat this. America was built on white supremacy and all white people in this country continue to benefit from it. As Amina Pugh wrote in her recent article in BGD Press, “White people must stop convincing themselves that white supremacy is upheld by a small minority, anonymously typing behind computer screens, and realize it is sustained by a silent majority. White supremacy elected Trump and white people need to start owning this.” Being liberal or voting for Hillary does not remove you from this system.
White people need to talk about race because racial issues involve them, too. The reality is, however, that many white people feel uneasy talking about it. Most have never felt the need to think critically about race, let alone their own whiteness, because they tend to grow up in racially isolated communities where their knowledge about racism and people of color comes from brief, reductive history lessons. Furthermore, when whites learn about racism in school, it is often portrayed as a phenomenon of the past. This makes it harder for white people to comprehend the existence of modern-day racism and how they are directly implicated in it.
When people talk about race and racism they disregard white responsibility. Racism against people of color would literally not be possible without white people. This can be a hard truth to swallow, but it is important for white people, including white liberals, to acknowledge their role in establishing and maintaining racism and racist structures. Even if you condemn racist language, have friends or family of color and actively believe that all races should be treated with equal dignity and respect, you are still leveraged in this system. We know white people can’t control being born white. People of color can’t control their skin color either. The undeniable truth, though, is that in America, skin color helps determine life opportunities. So, what can well-meaning white liberals do? They need to talk about race, but more than that, they need to talk about their own role in perpetuating racism. They need to listen to and respect the experiences of people of color. They need to do better.
What’s frustrating, though, is that in situations when their own behavior is questioned or labeled as racist, even well-meaning white liberals will make excuses, deny the accusation and get angry. “But I didn’t mean it that way,” they might say, or, “You’re just overreacting!” This inability of white people to confront their own biases and racism has a name: white fragility. According to Westfield State University Professor Robin DiAngelo, “white fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.” White people are not used to being held accountable for their role in racism. They constantly experience what DiAngelo calls “racial comfort,” and when this comfort is momentarily disrupted, they feel threatened and panic. For instance, if reading this article were to make a white person defensive and upset, that would be a perfect example of white fragility.
We are not calling attention to white fragility to shame white people. Emma still struggles with it. Rather, we are highlighting something that we believe is hindering white liberals’ fight against racism. A lot of white liberals acknowledge racism’s existence but see it as something they reject and take no part in. This is a false narrative. In order for white liberals to actively oppose white supremacy, they first need to confront their own racial biases and privilege. They need to validate people of color’s experiences of racism rather than silence them. They need to recognize that being an ally is not an identity but rather an ongoing learning process. They need to acknowledge and accept their mistakes. The burden of dismantling racism should not fall solely on people of color. It is not a one-way street. We all need to work on this. Together.
Ramblings of a mountain man: Pursuing education takes priority over entertainment industry
It is a common understanding that education is the key to furthering an individual’s socioeconomic standing. Individuals can also improve their socioeconomic status in the entertainment business. However, individuals cannot assure socioeconomic improvement due to the volatile nature of the entertainment business. It is just as important for a poor white person to obtain advanced technical training or a college degree as it is for their poor African-American counterparts. While minorities have been disproportionately poorer than whites, there are still poor whites who need to escape poverty, and education is the surest key to escape their situation.
Advanced education is the best way to escape poverty, though entertainment is another way to make enough money to improve socioeconomic standing. It is not feasible for all those in the lower rungs of society to become singers and athletes as a means to end the cycle of poverty. Less than one percent of all high school athletes and singers make it to the professional level in their respective sport or musical field. This means there are still many who do not make it each year even if they miss the cut by the smallest of margins. Since only a select number of people can become professional entertainers, these stars should focus the spotlight on education, as this allows for more people to advance in society. This isn’t to say people should stop aspiring to become professional entertainers, but rather should come to understand an education is just as—if not more—important.
Advanced education is a surer way for poor Americans to escape poverty. There are many more jobs outside of entertainment and in some job sectors there aren’t enough people to fill all the jobs. To obtain these jobs, Americans in almost all cases need some form of higher education, even if this means an apprenticeship and advanced technical training to become an electrician, for example. This is a shift from generations ago where workers could work in factories with just a high school degree and make enough to live a comfortable life. This is no longer the case, as many jobs nowadays are considered be high-skill rather than low-skill. This means a high school diploma is no longer the golden standard for education. Instead, the standard has shifted up some to require apprentice training or some form of college degree. To highlight this change, it might help to change the attitudes about continuing education, making it seem not like a novelty, but rather as a necessity for a professional life.
For those fortunate enough to go to college, this system isn’t perfect either, even with the introduction of legislation helping underrepresented groups gain entrance into the college system. Unfortunately, this didn’t solve the issue around actually paying for college, especially for those of lower socioeconomic status. College prices have been steadily rising since the 1980s with no signs of slowing down and some elite colleges even charge upwards of $60,000 per year. Even with financial aid, many poor students cannot afford to go to college, or if they do, they take on exorbitant amounts of student debt. This hole in the system means people of lower socioeconomic groups cannot further themselves without risking wrecking themselves financially. This shouldn’t be the case, and there needs to be some way in which public colleges and universities have ways to pay for students. This could come in the form of federal legislation change to set money aside to help those who need financial aid, to a higher degree than what the Pell grants seem to be able to handle. Also, there are many technical programs that are very expensive. Students amass a great amount of debt when they enroll in some of these programs. All those who wish to continue their education or training should have the opportunity to do so even if this means they need some financial aid, without fear of taking on massive debt.
Continuing one’s education is the key to success, and yet for so many it is so far away. There has to be a system which allows for those who need it the most to access it. At the same time America has to shift the spotlight away from making it as a professional entertainer. The future is here and advanced education or training is the key to moving forward for everyone. At the end of the day education is the great equalizer and we can all agree a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Holding Fast: Gaining political perspective through the season of the Advent
In the wake of this year’s presidential election, I think most of us in this country are ready for some Christmas cheer to liven our spirits as we count down the days to Donald Trump’s inauguration. But before we rush to forget our collective sorrows in the ritual consumption of the holiday season, I think we would do well to remember that Christmas is still a few weeks away, and we are just now entering the Christian liturgical season of Advent. Although today it is drowned out by the good cheer marketed by corporations looking out for their bottom line, we should not forget that Advent is primarily a time for somber reflection in anticipation of the birth of Christ. And I think there is no better time for an honest evaluation of the seemingly hopeless nature of our political situation.
Now I know many of you may not share the Christian faith that informs my reflections here. But I do hope that what I have to say about what this time of year means to me may provide you with some degree of hope in light of the present political circumstances.
Christ’s Advent is the fulfillment of centuries of Messianic expectations of the nation of Israel, which remained at the hands of foreign oppressors through much of its history. God promised his people that he would send a Messiah to sit on the throne of David and to conquer their enemies. Many of these promises come out of the Book of Isaiah, which was written at a time of great political turmoil. King Ahaz had formed an alliance with the Assyrians to protect Judah against attack, but because he did not trust in God to deliver them, that alliance would lead to years of Assyrian domination.
It was in this context that Isaiah wrote the words of prophecy that form a common backdrop to Advent reflections: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). In the face of imminent political oppression, this promise gave Israel the hope of a ruler who would not only conquer its enemies, but would also establish an everlasting Kingdom founded with “justice and righteousness.” The message of Advent is that this king has come and that he arrived in the unexpected form of the infant Jesus.
The good news for us is that with the coming of Christ, the promise of deliverance God made to Israel is applied to all of humanity which yearns for liberation from the oppression of sin and death. Christians believe that we are now living in the time between Christ’s first coming, when he conquered death through his resurrection and established his eternal Kingdom, and his second coming which will bring that Kingdom to full fruition on earth. In the meantime we live under the authority of rulers on earth while still bowing to Christ the King, whose first coming we celebrate and whose second coming we await in eager anticipation. All political activity exists within this framework, in this in-between time that the season of Advent represents.
Now what has any of this to do with our own political situation? I suggest that these Advent reflections should give us a hopeful outlook on all the uncertainties and political troubles of our time. President-elect Donald J. Trump is just another of a long line of rulers to assume power during this time of waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promised Kingdom. But the important lesson of Advent is that power does not belong to him, nor does it belong to the political structures that he now has authority over. Trump may turn out to be a good or a bad ruler, but his power is no more than temporary in light of the Advent promise of the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom.
This is the hope that I wish to inject into some of our more depressing political conversations. Now, I obviously don’t expect everyone to share my faith in Jesus Christ, but I do hope that there is still something very valuable to be gained from these reflections. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of political happenings and forget that there are things that lie far beyond the horizons of our recurring election cycles. These lasting things should give us grounds for hope by allowing us to see all of our troubles within a much more comprehensive framework. For me, it is my faith in Christ’s Advent and in the coming of his Kingdom that allows me to set my sights beyond the uncertainties of our political moment.
- 1 days ago
Editorial: Safety without sanctuary
Since the election, a petition calling on the administration to designate Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus has circulated among students, alumni and community members. President Clayton Rose emailed all students and employees on November 22 in response, noting that “legal counsel tells us that we have no such power.” The email also expressed that the College will not take action to put community members “in this kind of jeopardy” unless “compelled by law.” He concluded with an expression of support to the community.
In our most recent editorial, the Orient Editorial Board endorsed the establishment of Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus. We stand by the statements we made, but we acknowledge the legal implications explained in Rose’s email and appreciate the clear and honest tone of his communication.
However, the fear and uncertainty among undocumented students and students with undocumented family members remains. Acknowledging that we don’t have a strong understanding of the relevant laws, we believe that Bowdoin can still harness its many resources as an institution and provide support structures for the community beyond campus.
Providing emotional support for undocumented students on our campus was a focus of Rose’s email. In addition to the recognition of members of our campus community, helping students who have undocumented family members should be an equal focus.
The Bowdoin Admissions website expresses a commitment to providing undocumented students “with the support and resources they need to excel.” To accomplish this goal, bringing students with undocumented family members into this conversation is crucial. If a student’s family situation is precarious, they, too, face uncertainty, which provides a barrier to experiencing Bowdoin to the fullest.
Bowdoin has an extensive network of alumni and others committed to the College. There is an opportunity for Bowdoin to harness this network in a new way given the concerns outlined in the sanctuary campus petition.
The College should utilize its resources and take advantage of its far-reaching alumni network to educate and inform undocumented students and undocumented community members about what President-elect Donald Trump’s intended legislation means for them. This could include information about individual rights or available legal counsel.
Expression of support from the campus community for students from all backgrounds should continue to be a focus. This includes facilitated conversations, safe spaces and access to on-campus resources that already exist. In addition, Bowdoin must actively pursue research into what is legally viable given the administrative structure and network available to the College. Though the promise of a sanctuary campus is not legally viable, Bowdoin must take explicit action to assist undocumented students and families in whatever way it is able to. President Rose’s email cannot be the end of this conversation.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Marina Affo, Julian Andrews, Steff Chavez, Grace Handler, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert.
- November 18
On Second thought: How journalism can recover from flawed coverage of the 2016 election
Pop Quiz: Identify the following quotation:
“Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.”
A) Friedrich Nietzsche on the BibleB) Richard Nixon on the Vietnam WarC) Jon Stewart on the 2016 ElectionD) You on the Moulton vs. Thorne Debate
Read on for the answer.
It’s a strange, strange time to be a young journalist. Frankly, it’s probably strange to engage in any number of professions at this point in our country’s history, but boy, is it a strange time to be a young journalist.
At 11 p.m. on Election Night, staring numbly at the talking heads pontificating with all their might on the screen before me, I remembered a bit of text from David Brooks’ recent book, “A Road to Character.” In it, Brooks writes, “I’m paid to be a narcissistic blow-hard, to volley my opinions, to appear more confident about them than I really am, to appear smarter than I really am, to appear better and more authoritative than I really am.”
In a letter from 1956, C.S. Lewis wrote to a friend: “That journalists can be saved is a doctrine, if not contrary, yet certainly above, reason.”
Even before then, the always pithy Oscar Wilde wrote: “There is much to be said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”
I could go on. My point is that journalism has never been immune from public scorn or even from the scorn of fellow journalists. Media-bashing isn’t new.
But if you’re still wondering, the answer to the above pop quiz is B, Richard Nixon on the Vietnam War. Gotcha. Hopefully the answer was fairly obvious, but it says something about the current state of American journalism if you even had to think twice about it, which, if you’re under the age of 35, you probably did.
So disdain for the media isn’t new, but it certainly has changed. Even before these dreaded 18 months of torturous babble disguised as an election got underway, journalism of all types was in a precarious cultural position. Just look at it now.
Perhaps Lewis is right and journalists’ souls are beyond salvation, but what about their profession? If every doctor you consulted told you that that little spot on your back was positively, surely, absolutely nothing to worry about and then you developed skin cancer three months later, you’d probably never go back to those doctors. Even if, after your skin cancer diagnosis, your doctors sent you a deeply apologetic letter telling you that your case alone had spurned them from their ignorant ways and that they were back on the path to medical integrity, you would still look elsewhere the next time you discovered a little brown spot on your back.
So why not do the same to the existing media? In the wake of this massive abnegation of responsibility, is there any hope for the future of news media?
I sincerely hope so. Perhaps the current generation of professional pundits have no hope of recovery, their cultural and intellectual authority having been thrown out along with your Hillary 2016 yard sign. But I am cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the next generation.
If the next generation of political reporters and pundits hopes to regain the trust of even a sliver of the public, we would do well to learn from this current catastrophe.
First, we should follow Brooks in being more upfront about our fallibility. Certainty—even the appearance of certainty—should be avoided at all costs. Pundits should reaffirm their commitment to complicating, not simplifying, political problems.
Next, we should learn our lesson about the limits of data and polling in reporting. Yes, data is important, and polls do offer some insight into the mind of the electorate. But we must learn that even numbers can lie and mislead. We ought to temper our zeal for polling with a sense of the variousness and unpredictability of the human mind. Talking to 20 living, breathing, human beings is sometimes more illuminating than viewing a graph of 30,000 data points.
Lastly, the next generation of journalists and pundits—against the grain of so much reporting today—must inject some empathy back into public discourse. Journalists must recommit to understanding and fairly representing the positions of those all across the political spectrum, and pundits on both sides must redraw the playing field so as not to pit the enlightened and the “woke” against the willfully ignorant and the superstitious.
As Oscar Wilde wrote elsewhere: “In America the President reigns for four years, and journalism governs forever and ever.” Perhaps there will come a day when we should let our understanding of journalism die, but today is not that day. With any luck, these four years will pass. We cannot let responsible journalism pass with them.
- November 18
mixed reviews: Recognizing our prejudices will lead to progress
This week I had planned on writing about the responsibilities of privileged persons. I wanted to share my opinion that those who are unaffected by discrimination, prejudice and unjust biases are obligated to focus their attention on both thoroughly understanding and dismantling these issues. For whatever reason I was struggling to translate these thoughts to paper. That’s when Ivy Elgarten ’19 saved the day.
For those of you who do not know Ivy, she is a white cisgender Bowdoin student in the Class of 2019. Frankly, she is wonderful and you should all get to know her. This Tuesday, Ivy posted a Facebook status where she admitted to once having attitudes toward certain groups of people that she now recognizes as inappropriate and misguided. She went on ask others who share her position to reflect and address their own inner biases as well. She took accountability for her actions and asked for others to do the same but only after leading by example.
What Ivy did in 751 characters is what we should aim for in dialogue and our overall pursuit of harmony. The purpose of addressing these types of issues should be to generate an understanding of a different perspectives. This often results in an understanding of previously misunderstood issues. We need the receptors of these messages to be as willing to be wrong as Ivy is. For that reason, I think we as a community should applaud Ivy and others like her who submit themselves to the purpose of progress.
However, it is important to recognize that we should not be celebrating Ivy. The only reason to applaud those who overcome their prejudices is because people are not naturally compelled to do so. Not being ignorant should be nothing less than normal. Unfortunately, things are not as they should be. We live in a world full of ignorant influences. As a result, many, if not all, of us hold biased beliefs. For these reasons being educated in this regard is special. This is not to say that people like Ivy deserve more attention and recognition than members of marginalized communities and participants in movements that direct their efforts toward issues of difference as well. We still need to recognize that the leaders of any type of progress are those who are overcoming an obstacle(s). That being said, a pat on the back will not undermine progress altogether.
Acknowledging Ivy’s deed as a good one only encourages further similar behavior. Hopefully, if in the fight against inequality and oppression we incorporate positive reinforcement, more will be accomplished. Now, these are obviously my opinions. I cannot tell others how they must handle those who are ignorant to their situation. I do not feel I have the right to tell anyone how they should or can react to unfair treatment. That being said I do believe inclusive behaviors are more productive than exclusive practices in the grand scheme of things.
- November 18
Background Noise: In the push for justice, kindness prevails
In 2000, my elementary school organized a mock vote for the Bush-Gore election. I was five and knew nothing about either candidate—except their names, sort of—so I voted for Bush. George Bush reminded me of rabbits; Al Gore reminded me of the Child Catcher (the supporting antagonist of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”). After Bush’s actual election, I saw how dismayed the adults in my life were, and I felt extremely guilty. I was convinced I’d affected the results in some significant way, as if the consensus had depended on my vote. I cried for a few minutes and then forgot all about it.
I assumed I’d have a better voting experience the second time around. Last week, I went alone to Brunswick Middle School and spent all of two minutes casting my ballot. I streamed the election in my room, by myself. I wasn’t overly concerned, mostly because I’d spent weeks assuring my election-obsessed boyfriend that there was absolutely no reason to worry.
“There’s absolutely no reason to worry,” I’d told him, every freaking day. “He can’t possibly win.”
Obviously, I’m no clairvoyant. I should probably stop predicting anything as to avoid jinxing the results. I’ve never considered myself psychically gifted, I’ve just always assumed that basic human rights were at least sort of important to most people. Of course, my surprise is due in part to my privileged ignorance as a white person. Still, I’m horrified that racism and sexism and Islamophobia and homophobia (I could go on) have been validated—no longer just existing, but thriving. Personally, I feel unqualified to discuss political specifics when I have peers more eloquent, informed and diligent than I am. What I can talk about are emotions, because I have them.
Usually, when I’m having a bad week (or two), I sit down in a big chair and open my planner. I love my planner—it’s small and orange and I rarely use it. Often, I’ll find it under a pile of clothes and scribble vague commands inside like “read” or “READ.” Then, I’ll ignore it for three weeks. When I start feeling stressed, I just look at my planner and remember I have the power to put my life back in order.
After the election, I tried to get organized. I was floundering, and I wanted to take back control. I’m an anxious person. I find peace in schedules, in crossing off assignments with red pens. On Saturday, I went to a coffee shop to reflect and revitalize. I ordered coffee. I sat in a big chair with my little planner and watched my boyfriend drink a caramel macchiato. (This is a true story.) Then I tried to make sense of my feelings. I was sad and angry and scared and disappointed and hopeful and ashamed and confused. I wished I was wearing a mood ring.
I hadn’t done anything all week—except eat and sulk—but I was exhausted. I couldn’t focus on anything. I saw a dog who looked like he was smiling—the curled lips, wide eyes—and even though I knew he wasn’t actually smiling, I started to cry. All week, tears seemed to be my automatic response to anything. I would cry without reason—in the library, while sending polite emails to potential employers and professors and grandparents and a friend of a friend who I’d publically stalked on LinkedIn.
To move forward, I’ve looked to the past—instructions from virtually every humanities class. This week last year, I was writing Pet Reviews about my cockatiel, Peter Pan, for money. This week 16 years ago, I was living in general oblivion, particularly regarding politics. I was incredibly lucky to have grown up in a community full of supportive, accepting adults. I did not have to fear for my own safety, nor defend my value as a human being. I did not watch a presidential candidate bully others without reason. I keep thinking about the five-year-olds today who have watched this election through five-year-old eyes—who have understood it through five-year-old brains and felt it through five-year-old hearts. I hate to be gloomy, but this part just kills me.
I do have hope in kindness. Kindness is one thing over which we have total control—treating those around us as allies of the Earth (even if that sounds like the lamest superhero team imaginable). I hope for kindness for each other, and importantly for those who are young and impressionable.
At an interview last month, a man with a cat-sized beard asked me how I want to be remembered when I die. “Sure,” I thought, “I think about this all of the time!” I wanted to explain to him the cases I had prepared for, but instead I just sat there. I couldn’t remember any quotes from famous people, and I’m not good at improvising on the spot (see my previous article).
“I’d like to be remembered for being kind,” I said, eventually. “When it counts and when it’s difficult.”
Then we just stared at each other. I didn’t get the job. Unfortunately, kindness cannot compensate for my lack of quantitative skills. Still, I think it’s more important than anything. Every person deserves empathy and acceptance. I’ve been inspired by the efforts of my peers to spread love and security in the past few days, and I hope we can sustain the push for justice as a community. Please continue to love one another. Please continue to stand up for one another. Please continue to donate to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name—out of the kindness of your hearts.
- November 18
Editorial: At home in all lands
A petition is currently circulating through the Bowdoin community, in Brunswick and beyond, to make Bowdoin a sanctuary campus. According to the petition, this would mean those documented under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented peers “are able to remain on campus and focus on their education instead of their fears of being forced to abandon their education and separate from their families.” The initiative comes in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to deport undocumented immigrants from the United States during his presidency.
The petition—addressed to President Clayton Rose, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, Dean of Multicultural Affairs Leana Amaez, Director of the Student Center for Multicultural Life Benjamin Harris and Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols—seeks to “protect our current and future students from intimidation, unfair investigation, and deportation.” The petition urges administrators to take action prior to Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.
The Orient’s editorial board vehemently endorses the establishment of Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus. In an email to the campus community on November 10, following the debrief of the election organized by the McKeen Center, Rose noted “that Bowdoin is among a small number of institutions in America that are designed and especially well-equipped to engage, understand, and debate ideas, to build the skills necessary to respectfully disagree and bridge differences, and to transform ideas into action.” He continued to note that taking action is “[at the] center of our purpose, and also at the center of our democracy.” Establishing Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus is a way to transform conversations about support into action establishing inclusion.
Many cities, including Portland, Maine, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C, and Seattle are designated sanctuary cities. Sanctuary refers to cities who have pledged to refrain from assisting federal officers seeking to deport undocumented immigrants.
In addition to established sanctuary cities, many campuses across the country have launched similar petitions and staged walkouts over the course of the last week. We believe Bowdoin should join this effort for national action. This is one of many ways the College can take an active, public stance in favor of the Common Good both on and off campus.
Bowdoin as a sanctuary campus not only embodies the Offer of the College, but contributes to the Common Good. Given the nation’s current political climate, working towards the Common Good and ensuring everyone knows that they are accepted and have a true home here is more important than ever. To echo the petition, “This is not a time for silence.”
This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Marina Affo, Julian Andrews, Steff Chavez, Grace Handler, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert.
- November 11
Holding Fast: The perils of populism: Brexit and America's political landscape
One salient feature of this year’s electoral season has been the resurgence of populism as a potent political force. This came as a shock to many in the United States, but if we look elsewhere in the world we will find that ours is not an isolated case. Last spring, the United Kingdom (U.K.) saw a similar wave of populist resentment sweep the nation in the “Brexit” vote in which the U.K. bid an unceremonious “adieu” to the European Union (E.U.). The unexpected nature and tremendous consequences of that vote have drawn obvious comparisons to our own situation and, for that reason, it might be helpful to look to the U.K.’s handling of Brexit in considering how America moves forward from this election.
The big issue currently facing the U.K. government is how it can obey the will of the people by leaving the E.U. while also following proper constitutional procedure. A recent High Court ruling has thrown a wrench in the government’s plan to start negotiations with other E.U. nations by requiring Parliament’s approval before it can begin. It is a complicated issue. Basically, Prime Minister Theresa May had planned on negotiating the terms of Brexit under the powers of royal prerogative that give Her Majesty’s Government the power to make decisions regarding international treaties. This is how May and her cabinet intended to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and trigger the exit from the E.U. in accordance with the will of the majority of citizens.
But the court’s ruling asserted the sovereignty of Parliament over any action that would affect the rights of citizens. And because Brexit revokes certain rights granted to U.K. citizens under the 1972 European Communities Act, it is necessary for Parliament to give its approval before any negotiations take place. The government had already planned on repealing that act in Parliament, but would have only done so near the end of negotiations to finalize the formal split. In effect, this ruling has allowed Parliament to get involved at the beginning of the process, giving members of parliament a greater say regarding the terms of the U.K.’s exit.
Not many people believe that Parliament will not go through with Brexit at this point. But the ruling does raise some very interesting questions about the role of popular sovereignty not only in the U.K., but anywhere else where the will of the majority bristles against the established rule of law. It is important that constitutional norms are followed, but at the same time Parliament must do its best to respect the will of the people as it promised to do before the vote, no matter how much individual members may oppose the outcome.
The problem with the Brexit vote is that it did not really do an adequate job of expressing the will of the people regarding the terms of the exit from the E.U. The Leave campaign made some misleading promises they knew they couldn’t keep and it appears that those tasked with executing the exit are now the targets of populist resentment. In the event that Brexit doesn’t significantly affect Britain’s immigration levels or remove it from the European common market, it is precisely the politicians who made these promises that will pay the price for betraying the will of the people.
And lest we think that this is only Westminster’s problem, we should remember that the popular mandate to exit the E.U. was not really the will of the U.K. as a whole, but more like the will of England and Wales against the protestations of Scotland and Northern Ireland. In a union already strained by multiple rounds of devolution and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, this divide makes the future of the U.K. even more uncertain. Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish nationalists are already threatening to hold another referendum should the terms of the exit be unfavorable to the parliament in Edinburgh. So in addition to a crisis of legitimacy surrounding its political institutions, the U.K. may be facing an even more pressing threat to its continued existence.
All of these issues may be specific to the U.K., but they can nonetheless serve as a warning to America, which has now seen the same populist forces wreak havoc on an election of its own. Whatever you may think of Trump’s victory, it is hard to deny the importance of the forces he has unleashed in American politics. The will of the people has triumphed over every convention that would normally have prevented this outcome. If we consider the health of democracy at the moment, we can certainly find some good and some bad. It is at once encouraging to see the will of the people prevail and also very alarming to consider its possible impact on the rule of law in this country. We would do well to consider how this has played out following the Brexit vote, and hopefully learn a thing or two about how to deal with the new realities of populism in America.
Politics, process and practice of medical leaves at Bowdoin
We talked to over 15 students and 12 administrators about health at Bowdoin. Many of our peers have found frustration in the complexity and obscurity of who has not only the power, but also the judgment to make these decisions. Moreover, how does Bowdoin support a student whose health concerns cannot necessarily be solved with a medical leave?
Austin Goldsmith ’18 was two weeks into her first year at Bowdoin when she got her first concussion during a volleyball game. Her struggle to make it to classes led to several meetings with former Dean of First Year Students Janet Lohmann, who suggested Goldsmith take a medical leave—an option in which Goldsmith was not interested.
“[Does] a strong word from Lohmann make [my leave] involuntary? Does that mean it’s not my decision? ... What power or autonomy do I have?” said Goldsmith in a phone interview with the Orient. “As much as the [Bowdoin Student] Handbook gives you information, it’s so unclear and it’s so vague.”
According to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, medical leave cases are considered on a case-by-case basis. However, the deans have displayed a pattern of strongly recommending a voluntary medical leave to students.
Approximately 10 to 20 students are on voluntary medical leave each semester, according to Kim Pacelli, the senior associate dean of student affairs. However, many students feel pressured by the deans’ recommendations and question whether these leaves are elective in practice or if the College is making the decision for them.
Read stories of eight students' experiences with medical leave and mental health at Bowdoin.
The Handbook states students may “request a voluntary medical leave in the event that the student believes that physical and/or mental health concerns are significantly interfering with the ability to succeed at Bowdoin [or to recover].”
Only if a student is presenting a “significant threat” to themselves or others while on campus, the deans, in consultation with the health care provider, may force a student to go home. The Handbook classifies this as an involuntary medical leave. According to Pacelli, no students are on involuntary medical leave this semester. These leaves, Pacelli noted, are “pretty rare.”
In the case of voluntary medical leaves, occasionally a student may enter the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs knowing he or she would like to request a leave. However, some students question whether a leave will benefit their health, resist postponing their graduation date or feel hesitant to go through the process of readmission upon return. Many times, students feel the conversation with their dean is what ultimately guides their decision.
Former Dean of First Year Students Janet Lohmann claimed to be “a fan of the leave.”
“My goal is that I want students to be successful at Bowdoin,” said Lohmann. “If I feel that students are limping along and compromising their success merely for the sake of being here, then really I want [the student] to be able to perform at the level [the student is] capable of.”
The administrators who spoke with the Orient on this subject shared this sentiment.
Many students who spoke with the Orient felt this pressure from their deans as well.
“[The deans are] very pushy. They’re like ‘this is what we want—we want you to do well. Bowdoin is four years of your life and we want you to get the best time with it, not struggling to get through it, for reasons beyond your control,’” Goldsmith said. “That was the biggest message I got. We want you to have the best experience possible.”
While unsure how her concussion would progress, Goldsmith knew she would be happier to remain at school, rather than leave for the year and re-matriculate the following fall, as is asked of first years taking a medical leave their fall semester.
“[Lohmann] could have been right… She was coming from ‘oh we’ve seen this before and we’ve seen this go both ways.’ I’m sure she’s seen a lot of more people do poorly than do well,” continued Goldsmith. “[But] she didn’t know me the way that I knew me.”
Goldsmith did not take a leave that fall semester.
“CAN THEY MAKE ME LEAVE?”
A conversation between the student and his or her dean often plays the biggest role in influencing the student’s decision to take a leave.
Prior to this type of conversation, Pacelli noted that she looks at the student’s academic performance—which includes class attendance (a red flag when a student misses three weeks of classes), completion of work and any additional comments from faculty. She also looks at his or her conduct—whether the student has been in any disciplinary trouble with the College.
However, considering the case-by-case nature of each student’s mental or physical health problems, the dean’s advisal “should have the recommendation of the [medical] provider,” according to Pacelli. “They always do.”
A Bowdoin student’s medical provider includes Bowdoin Counseling, the Bowdoin Health Center or a medical professional unaffiliated with the College.
“I think sometimes our office gets a bad rap of—and an unfair one—that we’re looking to send everybody on med leave all the time. I don’t think that’s accurate,” Pacelli said.
Though the dean’s office may rely on a health care provider for this recommendation, the student’s health information is only shared with the student’s permission under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In the case of a concussion, the Health Center informs the student’s dean of how many days of brain rest the student requires so that the deans may share that information with the student’s professors.
Counseling or the Health Center can share a student’s health information with the student’s dean or parents only in the cases deemed “a significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals.” Such a threat, as outlined in the Handbook, would warrant an involuntary medical leave.
Many students under voluntary medical leaves, however, still feel confused as to whether the decision is their own.
“I really felt a lot of pressure from the administration. I remember scanning the Handbook with my dad, being like can they make me leave?” Goldsmith said.
Megan Retana ’19, who is currently on a medical leave, echoed Goldsmith.
“There was initially a lack of clarity in what they could offer me, what additional help they could give me and what the policies were,” said Retana in a phone interview with the Orient.
Following a hospitalization for mental health reasons in the spring of her first year, Retana agreed to take off the rest of the semester and this current fall semester per the evaluation of the Counseling Center and her dean. The final decision was negotiated in a phone call in June between Retana’s mother and Assistant Dean of First Year Students Khoa Khuong, according to Retana.
“My mom had been advocating for me to go back in the fall because we both thought I could do it and then they [said] no,” said Retana. “Counseling was concerned about my well-being while I had a different opinion on what that was or what would help me.”
While both Retana and her mother wanted her to return in the fall, Retana agreed to take the fall semester off because the deans told her they believed this was the only way Bowdoin’s Readmission Committee would allow her to come back to campus.
The readmission process requires a short application, in which the student must prove their readiness to re-enter life at the College. This requires documentation from the student’s health care provider. The committee—comprised of members of the dean’s office, Residential Life and Admissions and advised by the directors of Counseling and the Health Center—then determines whether the student is healthy enough to come back to campus.
According to Retana, the decision to leave felt involuntary though it is recorded as voluntary because she did, under this pressure, consent to the leave.
“[The problem] was more in terms of lack of transparency, or clarity, or organization on their part because...they didn’t [initially] tell me [in the spring] that I had to take [the fall] semester off,” Retana said. “Had they offered those things in the first place, I wouldn’t have been upset.”
She said although she ultimately appreciated her time off, she wished the process was clearer.
“I wanted to make my own decisions but at the same time I’m grateful to the school for stepping in because I’m so grateful for this semester off,” Retana said. “But I do wish there had been more consistency throughout the process.”
“EDUCATIONAL NOT THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITY”
The College views its role of “stepping in” as necessary in preventing a student’s health from impeding on the rest of his or her life at Bowdoin.
“Bowdoin is an educational community, not a therapeutic community,” said Foster. “So if somebody really needs the time to regain their health ... it’s oftentimes better to seek the care that you need in order to fully regain your health so you can be here and be successful.”
Director of Counseling Services Bernie Hershberger, whose office is independent of the dean’s, said it does not push students to leave against their will.
“If it’s better for the student to stay on campus then that’s going to be the first priority and that’s what we’re going to push for. It’s not that often that a student would want to go, and so we’re not going to push that unless it aligns with their deepest desire,” he said.
Uma Blanchard ’17, who has struggled with a concussion since the end of her sophomore year, was skeptical of Counseling’s relationship with the dean’s office because she had heard rumors that the two offices communicate with each other about students often.
“I began to see a counselor off campus—I felt safer seeing someone who wasn’t connected to the dean’s office and wasn’t feeding me the Bowdoin line, which I feel is pretty much always the same which is ‘you should go home’,” said Blanchard.
Many students said it was difficult to fight the College’s push to leave even when their own medical providers felt that going home was not the best solution.
Following a conversation with her first-year dean, Jacqueline Colao ’17 decided to take a gap year a day and half into her pre-orientation trip because of a persistent concussion she sustained in high school. Upon returning to campus and still feeling the effects of her concussion, Colao chose not to take any medical leaves. Instead, beginning her sophomore year, she decided on a reduced course load for four semesters.
“[Bowdoin is] very good about letting people take time off, but that’s the go-to solution,” said Colao.
“My neurologist [said] that it was better for me for my healing process to be at school taking two courses than it would be for me to take time off because you still need your brain to be working in a certain capacity. You can’t just sit around, that’s not good either,” Colao noted.
Getting approved to take two classes—which makes a student part-time—is not easy. However, students may petition the Recording Committee for a reduced course load. The student must submit a one-page statement—as well as supporting documentation from a medical professional, faculty member or Director of Accommodations Lisa Peterson—about why he or she requires this alteration.
The Recording Committee is made up of several professors and two students. Because there are no health professionals on it, the committee relies on a rating system from the Health Center to determine the severity of a student’s medical condition.
Professor of Government Allen Springer, who is the Chair of the Recording Committee for this academic year, explained, “The Health Center will provide a rating for people to tell us that a. There is a concern and b. How confident they are it’s a serious concern. Quite honestly we take those ratings very seriously and we’re not in a position to second-guess medical professionals about whether or not medical factors should be taken into account in making a decision.”
This rating is the only metric considered by the Recording Committee, and, in addition to reports from the Health Center, takes into account doctor’s notes from outside practitioners.
Blanchard’s petition to take two classes her junior spring—which was substantiated by letters from her counselor and her parents indicating Blanchard’s home doctors’ recommendation that she remain at school and take a reduced course load—was denied. The committee’s decisions are final and do not include any face-to-face interaction between the student and the committee.
“I was a little unclear why the Recording Committee ... was able to make what was a medical decision for me. It would not have been good for me to go home because I would not have been able to use my brain,” said Blanchard.
On the other hand, Colao’s request to take two classes—supported by letters from her neurologist, Hershberger and her dean—was accepted. However, still struggling with her concussion sophomore spring, Colao did not want to go through the process of petitioning again because her concussion made the process particularly exhausting for her.
Additionally, Colao felt the committee would not be amenable to recurring requests.
“I asked multiple times why you have to petition the Recording Committee to only take two classes,” Colao said. “I was never given a clear answer on that, I was just told that’s not a thing that Bowdoin does.”
Lohmann confirmed that Bowdoin does not allow students to continually take only two courses. While students may successfully petition to take two classes, this accommodation is restricted to temporary medical issues with a clearly defined recovery period.
“We don’t really do half-time status,” Lohmann said. “We’re a residential liberal arts college. We expect students to be fully engaged in living in the college.”
Pacelli shares this position. “This is supposed to be a full-time experience and a full course load is three or more credits,” she said. “If all you can do is two credits then maybe it’s better to think about med leave.”
Pacelli said that finances do not play a role in the Recording Committee’s decision of whether to allow a student to take two courses.
Further, taking two classes does not reduce the cost of tuition aid. However, if a student takes a medical leave in the middle of a semester, he or she is not reimbursed after the fifth week of school. The Student Aid Office only covers eight semesters of aid, though a student may appeal for a ninth semester of aid with the support of the Office of Student Affairs. Pacelli noted that “[the deans] can and do step up.”
Colao’s recovery period continued for the next three semesters; she took three classes during each one. Her sophomore spring proved to be especially demanding as she struggled to balance her academics with her recovery.
“The only way I was able to stay here [my sophomore spring] and take three classes was I was able to only do school and nothing else,” Colao said. “So I ate meals by myself because talking to people at meals would bring up my symptoms ... I would nap every day for a couple hours. I never went out. I barely talked to people. Literally all I did was schoolwork.”
“I think it would be helpful to delve into more solutions about how we can get people to stay at Bowdoin and be successful while still dealing with whatever issue that caused them to think about taking time off,” Colao said.
Blanchard echoed this sentiment.
“I felt very strongly last semester that there is this notion that if you’re not totally healthy then you shouldn’t be here,” Blanchard said. “For the first time I thought ‘wow Bowdoin doesn’t want me to be here right now, because I am not perfect.’ ... I think that’s definitely a common experience."
Bottom of the Barrel: Everybody hurts sometimes when sipping Falkenburg Riesling 2014
Wednesday December 25, 2002: Chevy Chase, Maryland
It was a still morning, 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and the smell of my mother’s mahogany balsam 3-Wick Candle filled the air. Christmas morning, bitches. Few moments in life are filled with more excitement and anticipation than the Christmas mornings of your youth. But this year was different. This year there was a craze sweeping the nation. This year Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire hit stores. I had sent St. Nick an analytical paper detailing why exactly I deserved a spot on the nice list. It was perhaps my greatest work. In return I had asked for one of the two games. Truthfully I had a preference for Ruby but I was in no position to be picky. So that morning, filled to the brim with enthusiasm, I immediately ran towards the Christmas tree. Within moments of shredding the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer wrapping paper, I knew. Underneath that exceptionally crafted exterior laid a brand new Easy Bake Oven. Underneath that exceptionally crafted exterior laid disappointment.
Sunday, August 25, 2013: Dewey Beach, Delaware
The surf is soft as you wake Sunday morning, mouth tasting like crab cakes, heart heavy. You’re two weeks from starting your freshman year of college—you applied early to Dartmouth, but bygones...The broken air conditioner of your family’s timeshare, two blocks from the beach, clangs. Its noise is not why you slept poorly the night before. Love, or rather love lost is why you slept poorly the night before. Erica. Hell, did you ever love Erica? It sure seemed like it just two nights ago when you shared a Marlboro Gold with her under the boardwalk, enjoying the relaxed curfew earned at age 18. She was back in town from her freshman year at The New School, grown up, sophisticated, cultured. You thought this was your break. That’s when you asked the question, “So, how do you feel about long distance?” For three summers you talked with her at beachside barbeques, yearning for stolen kisses, late night confidences. There was an awkward silence in the air, each second feeling like an eternity, and then she responded “Sorry kiddo, I’ve got a man in the city.”
Monday, November 28, 2016: Brunswick, Maine
It’s past starting to get cold. It’s downright chilly. It’s dark. Our guts are heavy from a week of binge eating. However, our spirits are high. We arrived at Bootleggers, over in Topsham, with dreams of finding the perfect pre-final paper mood elevator. Copping a bottle of something toasty to cuddle up with. We were prepared to fork over more than the standard $10 for something special. We were overjoyed to find that for $12 we could get something exciting, though slightly a-seasonal: an ostentatiously packaged Falkenburg Riesling from 2014.
As wine columnists we’ve striven to toe the party line: wine is a pretty dang good thing. We’ve waxed poetic on how it can help set the atmosphere on a melancholy evening alone, how it makes you want to sit in the back of a Wraith with the starlights on the ceiling, how it is simply tasty and an object worth enjoying. We expected, when purchasing the Falkenburg ’14, to be stunned. The German wine comes in a 1.5L bottle stretched to resemble a cross between the majesty of the Saturn V rocket and the modernist je ne sais quoi of Brancusi’s Bird in Space. Loyal readers of the column will know that empirically, the cooler the bottle, the better the wine. Well, now we can say that’s not always the case. The ol’ Falkenburg is gross. A disappointment greater than that of Easy Bake Ovens or unrequited love. It is hardly worth noting flavor profiles. There isn’t much to say other than: were we you, we would not buy this wine.
Tonight's Soundtrack: "Everybody Hurts"-R.E.M.
Justin: "I'd like to thank my parents for getting me all the Pokemon paraphernalia you could possibly imagine."
Will: "I feel like Yu-Gi-Oh! doesn't get as much shine as it deserves these days."
An Autistic's guide to autism: My limitations as an autism advocate and columnist
Many of my autistic friends have talked to me about how they feel that others think of autism as monolithic in nature: that all autistic people are the same, or that there are only two or three kinds of autistic people. Early diagnostic criteria for autism was narrowly defined, and while the criteria for diagnoses have broadened in the past twenty or so years, the general public is still taking its time to catch up. The media does little to abate this misconception, with depictions of autism that are few and far between and often couched in the language of autism as an “epidemic.” While those who live with autistic people and those who are autistic may know differently, the uninformed and uninitiated may think the adjective autistic refers to a homogenous group.
One of my responsibilities as an autism advocate, I feel, is to dispel this myth of autism as describing a narrow range of individuals. The experiences of one autistic person can be very different from the experiences of another. The range in ability and disability within the autistic community is almost as large as the number of people in the community itself. What one person may find as their strengths, another person can find as their weaknesses and vice versa.
I recall working during my summer between high school and college with a student with whom I had such a gulf in life experience. He was nonverbal, had gross motor skill difficulties and was intellectually impaired. While he and I shared certain common experiences—we both have difficulty eating certain foods, both have difficulties with crowds and loud noises and both need structure and order in our lives to be comfortable—we also had great differences in what we had experienced, what we were capable of doing and what we were unable to do.
When I write this column, I always try to write from a first-person perspective. I am the ultimate authority on my own experiences, and so I write about who I know best: myself. However, I am also an advocate for a large and diverse community. I have been given opportunities that others have not, given resources others have not had and as a result now have a platform through which to speak my mind to a wide audience. That is a privilege I do not take lightly. So while I think it is important to speak to issues that affect all autistic people, I fear speaking to experiences I have not had. For instance, I don’t know what it’s like to be nonverbal, or to have difficulties with my gross motor functions like the student I worked with during the summer. His are experiences that many autistic people have had and continue to have, and it would be wrong of me to speak for those people and their experiences I do not share.
I began this column with the hope that I could give voice to an often voiceless community. My fear has been in addressing experiences I have never had I will take away the very voice I sought to give—That I will be a part of the problem I sought to correct. However, I think that addressing all autistic experiences is important. I do very little to expel the myth of the autistic monolith when mine is the only perspective being heard. I hope to do more to speak to autistic experiences outside of my own in the coming months and years. Unfortunately, I, like many autistic people, find change difficult. So I may need some time to adjust.
Small Feet: Logging the way to minimized waste, hour-by-hour
I’ve written a lot about the statements and choices that we as Bowdoin students make, but all of these things are visible. Parts of our lives are less obvious, but are just as much of a part of our impact. Every day, most of us throw things away, and our trash vanishes almost magically. But trash builds up, and it turns out a lot of it can be avoided. I decided to spend Monday living as I typically would but without throwing anything in a trash can and trying to put as little as possible in the recycling. I kept a journal throughout the day to see just how small my feet could be (If you really want to know, I wear a kids’ size five).
7:40 a.m.: I wake up, only pressing snooze once. I brush my teeth with a recycled plastic toothbrush, wash my hair with a shampoo bar that came wrapped in paper and put in my contacts.
8:15 a.m.: I walk to breakfast at Moulton. I forgo a muffin since its wrapping is disposable, instead eating oatmeal and grapefruit. Both of these things can be bought without packaging. I fill my stainless steel insulated Klean Kanteen with coffee and almond milk and drink a Mason jar of water as I catch up on some reading and study for a quiz.
9:29 a.m.: I go to my campus job in the music department, where I notice how much paper is recycled. We recycle paper all over campus, but recycling takes a lot of energy and isn’t always the most eco-friendly solution.
11:23 a.m.: Time for class—I take my quiz with a mechanical pencil that can be refilled. In class, I use Moleskine notebooks, which have paper covers and are sewn with thread so that they can be composted or recycled if I ever decide I want to get rid of my notes (which of course I never, ever will). Anticipating funny looks, I blow my nose into a handkerchief instead of a tissue, but no one notices.
12:57 p.m.: I go back to Moulton for lunch. Express lunch can be a huge source of waste, but this is easy to avoid. Look for foods packaged in rigid recyclable containers or paper rather than plastic wrap, keep a metal utensil in your bag instead of using disposable plastic cutlery (which breaks all the time anyway) and avoid chip bags that will go straight to the landfill by selecting a piece of fruit instead. Consider refilling your water bottle rather than grabbing a can or carton. Packing lunch in a reusable bag or refusing a (fragile) paper bag is easy to do.
2:20 p.m.: I print out some readings before class. Although paper takes a lot of water, energy and trees to produce, I struggle to understand things that I read on my laptop, and my professor doesn’t allow computers in class anyway. Deciding to prioritize my education, I print my readings and paper clip them instead of stapling. At the end of the semester, I’ll recycle the paper and reuse the paper clip.
4:03 p.m.: I head to the Union to do some work before dinner. I want a cup of tea, and although teabags without staples can be composted, Bowdoin doesn’t have compost receptacles in campus buildings and the tea in the dining hall comes wrapped in plastic. The most zero-waste option is to use loose-leaf tea, which can be bought unpackaged at many stores. I keep a container of loose green tea in my bag that I put in a tea infuser and I ask the Café to fill my insulated mug with hot water.
4:49 p.m.: After checking my mailbox (no mail), I swing by an informational table in the Union offering stickers, flyers and buttons. Although I love stickers as much as anyone, I decide that taking a sticker isn’t a good idea since the backing will have to go in the trash. I also take a picture of the flyer with my phone to keep the information, since I’ll just recycle the flyer anyway.
5:45 p.m.: I meet friends for dinner. Since I typically use about nine paper napkins at every meal (I’m sure I’m not the only one), I bring a cloth napkin to dinner. Despite my roommate laughing at me, it’s not a huge inconvenience to use my own napkin, and I feel pretty fancy not scrubbing my face with paper after a huge bite of dessert.
8:26 p.m.: I take a break from studying to order a green juice. (It’s nearing the end of the semester, and I still have Polar Points; something is wrong.) As you probably know if you’ve seen any of the multiple videos about plastic pollution, disposable straws can hurt animals and pollute the ocean as well as take up space in landfills. I love drinking out of straws, and because of my sympathy for turtles, I’ve carried a reusable stainless steel straw with me for over a year now. Put into a jar instead of a plastic cup, my juice is waste-free.
12 a.m.: It’s time for bed. I’m exhausted but ready for another day of the zero-waste lifestyle tomorrow.
Living a zero-waste lifestyle isn’t always easy; medications and other necessities often come wrapped in disposable packaging, and sometimes you just want to get a sticker from the Union. But implementing one or two of these simple ideas, or just refusing a disposable straw, does make a difference.
Diamond Walker '17 teaches students about natural hair care
When she was 16, Diamond Walker ’17 stopped using relaxers— lotions used to chemically smooth or straighten very curly hair— and started looking for natural hair products. She found that products on the market were expensive and decided to make her own hair products with simple ingredients found at a grocery store. Now, years later, Walker has begun to share her discoveries in a series of hair care tutorials at Bowdoin.
The tutorials, which took place throughout the month of November, were split into three parts. Walker decided to break up the series according to the way she washes her own hair. She discussed oil treatments and herbal hair rinses in the first program, shampooing in the second week and deep conditioning in the third.
“Each session I would explain what the topic was, its benefits and how to carry it out,” Walker said.
In the first tutorial, Walker helped participants make herbal hair rinses.
“I had bought rosemary and thyme leaves. We boiled [the mixture], let it sit, put it in containers and made our own rinses. I explained how to use them, and people were able to take them home and use them,” she explained.
Walker said that she saw a specific need for this type of program at Bowdoin. Her intended audience was anyone interested in using non-commercial products.
“It was more so people whose hair wasn’t responding well to store-bought products and wanted to know more about the process,” Walker said. “Caring for natural hair isn’t something talked about growing up because lots of women get relaxers even though that is changing over generations. A lot of us grew up with straightened hair and had to learn to care for our hair all by ourselves,” she added.
She created the program to be helpful for people of all hair types and wanted the tutorials to be open to the whole campus.
She spread the word about her tutorials by placing cards in students’ mailboxes. This helped Walker reach a wider audience and led more students to come to the tutorials than she expected.
Walker intended the tutorials to be a one-time series, but she is open to continuing them if there is a high demand.
If she were to host more tutorials, she said she would want to gear them toward naturally kinky hair.
“At Bowdoin, the community is very white so we can’t find many of our products in stores here. [A tutorial] could just be really helpful,” she said.
Walker felt that the event was a success.
“The people who did come learned a lot and were really into it and that’s all I could ask for,” she said. “If someone was having a real problem with their hair, and I could offer advice that was helpful, it made me really happy knowing that I could possibly make them more confident. Hair is a very important part of everyone’s identity. Whether you shave it off or grow it long, we express ourselves through our hair.”
Walker hopes that the tutorials helped students learn more about natural hair care and inspired them to create natural products for themselves.
“Making your own products is very liberating and you know exactly what’s going into your hair and your scalp. For me it’s a really rewarding experience,” said Walker.
Inside the medical leave decision
Eight students share their experiences with mental health and the administration
- 1 days ago
Polar eyes: Bowdoin after hours
Editor's Note, December 3, 3:15 p.m.: This article has been updated to clarify the buildings featured in the photographs.
- November 18
Tapped out: Lenin's beer may be hard to pronounce, but it's easy to get down
Please note: personal opinions on things other than beer, such as American politics, below.
Guess what Vladimir Lenin’s favorite drink was? Contrary to stereotype, it was not vodka. When I visited Lenin’s well-kept estate where he died (I was in the room where it happened), I learned that Lenin did not care much about food but loved a good beer. His favorite: the Russian-brewed brand “Жигулeвское,” or “Zhigulyovskoe.” It was practically the only mass-produced beer during Soviet times and is still very popular in Russia. Zhigulyovskoe is available pretty much everywhere here, although unfortunately not in America. Lenin’s beer was too interesting not to try.
I bought one liter on tap from the local beer shop in a very utilitarian, undecorated plastic bottle (it was also very cheap—hooray). Pouring it into a glass, I was struck by how thick the head was and also by its light golden color. I was a little worried that the thick foam would get in the way of drinking later, but it was actually not a problem. The smell was probably the best part about the beer; it had a strong, lovely aroma that resembled caramel. This sounds strange, but was true. If this beer were a cereal, it would certainly be those Shredded Wheat squares. It’s light and sweet, with a strong taste of toasted wheat. None of the flavors are over the top and, overall, it goes down easily. The amount of carbonation was perfect, although maybe because it was on draft.
However, I could understand how the sweetness could get annoying if you don’t like sweeter beers. Although it wasn’t spectacularly special, I personally found this beer pleasant, smooth and surprisingly delicious, especially for being one of the cheaper beers—perhaps equivalent to Budweiser or Heineken. in the United States. Go Lenin—although it’s not my favorite beer of all time, I approve of your choice in alcohol.
I actually didn’t plan to write about Lenin’s beer this week. When I was searching for topics to write about, my first Google search was: “beer to drown your sorrows in.” I thought it was appropriate. But then I realized that this was not productive in any way, either for the article or for myself (although I did find out that there is a “Black Galleon Drown Your Sorrows” ale brewed in England and a “Spiteful Brewing Dumb Donald” IPA).
There’s no denying that last Wednesday was shocking and difficult for many. Here in Moscow, it’s both easier and harder to process my distress over the election results because I am not reminded of it every moment. It was an ordinary morning on Wednesday; of course, most people knew about the results, but it was very possible to not be as aware of the consequences. Maybe that’s the hardest part of it all. I need to remember that not only am I, as a Korean woman, my friends, and the U.S. directly impacted, but that the whole world is impacted by a Trump presidency—and that this really is our new reality. I need to be aware—and for me that means, at this moment, I need to be terrified, confused, sad and upset. And awareness is essential, always, in order for any kind of forward action to happen.
So, reader of mine, I propose a toast (and I presume that you will forgive my clichés): here is to not drowning our sorrows. Here’s to swimming in our sorrows. Here’s to remembering. Here’s to mourning, to fearing, to protesting. Here’s to not running to Canada. Here’s to liquid courage found at the bottom of your beer glass. Here’s to still dreaming drunkenly of hope.
Lastly, as always, here’s to drinking responsibly.
Tonight's soundtrack: Started out with "Red" by Taylor Swift (in honor of Lenin), but switched over after 47 seconds to Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks"
Tonight's toast: see above
Conclusions on Zhigulyovskoe:
- November 18
Bowdoin professors and faculty flock to Ebenezer's for trivia
Having a Ph.D. doesn’t hurt when it comes to trivia competitions.
Every Wednesday night, two Bowdoin faculty teams and one staff team go to Ebenezer’s Pub on Pleasant Street in Brunswick to compete in trivia night with members of the Brunswick community and occassionally students.
Associate Professor of Classics Robert Sobak and Professor of History Patrick Rael, who is currently on sabbatical, lead one of the two faculty teams. Their team includes local community members as well. The group used to go to the trivia night hosted at Byrnes’ Irish Pub in Brunswick, but the group switched to Ebenezer’s about two years ago.
Lecturer in Classics Michael Nerdahl served as a filler for Rael’s team whenever there was an open spot, but due to Ebenezer’s six-person-per-team rule, he started his own team with Lecturer in Mathematics Michael King. Their team includes Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow Ellen Tani and a few professors. Like Sobak and Rael’s team, their group also includes non-Bowdoin-affiliated members.
Social Sciences Research and Instruction Librarian Beth Hoppe, O.O. Howard Papers Digitization Project Supervisor Meagan Doyle, Assistant Director for OneCard, Events and Summer Programs Chris Bird and other staff, friends and family make up the staff team.
Wednesday’s trivia night is hosted by Ryan Sullivan, a local chiropractor. According to Nerdahl, the way Sullivan runs the night has made Ebenezer’s event stand out.
“[Sullivan] really just does a wonderful job,” he said. “Byrnes’ is fun too, but [Sullivan] scratches the itch just a little bit better. He has more categories and doesn’t ask a lot of trivia categories that are totally random where you have to guess wildly because it’s a crazy question.”
In addition, King said that Ebenezer’s trivia night is short and fast, which benefits busy competitors. According to King, Ebenezer’s typically lasts only one hour compared to several hours at other trivia events he’s been too.
At Ebenezer’s, teams compete in eight-week seasons. Each week, the first-place finisher gets three points and the second and third place teams get two and one respectively. The winning team gets to choose the category for the following week.
In the event that two teams tie at the end of the season, they compete in a non-trivia-related tiebreak.
“We tie the staff team a lot,” said King. “There’s tiebreakers, and sometimes they do funny ones, like build a paper airplane and whoevers paper airplane goes the farthest wins. We did one where you have to draw a breakfast-related tragedy, and [Tani] drew an Eggo lodged in someone’s throat sideways. It was very cartoonish, and we won.”
For Nerdahl, taking part in trivia night each week has been the perfect combination for testing his knowledge and creating friendships with the community outside of Bowdoin.
“I’ve always enjoyed answering trivia questions, and I’ve always enjoyed games,” said Nerdahl. “And it’s really good company. There are in-jokes and internal competitions that we have with the people because we know them and we’re friends. It’s more fun to beat your friends than strangers.”
King echoed Nerdahl’s sentiment and encouraged students to challenge their faculty and staff at the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night event.
“During the week, I’m just in the grind of being in the office or at home working all the time, so it’s nice to have a mid-week break,” King said. “Also, there’s a lot of fun aspects to it. Some of us are competitive, and I get really competitive about trivia. We challenge student teams to come try their hand against us.”
- November 18
Talk of the Quad: Mike Pence, Indiana and Me
Like many people on this campus, I was filled with shock and dismay as the results of last Tuesday’s election became clear. However, I was already keenly aware of the non-urban, rust belt, working class whites who delivered the Trump-Pence victory. They are my neighbors, former classmates and teachers and, yes, even my friends. I am from the heart of Trump country. In fact, I am from Mike Pence’s hometown: Columbus, Indiana.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Mike Pence and I are similar people. We grew up a few miles from each other. We both attended and graduated from Columbus North High School. And here’s my favorite: we were both president of Bartholomew County Young Democrats. Of course, that misses profound differences. He’s Donald Trump’s Vice President. He crushed teachers’ unions, fought for legalized discrimination against LGBTQ people and signed a regressive anti-choice bill that mandated fetal funerals. I am an environmental studies major with fond memories of driving with my mom around the block over and over again to yell at anti-choice protesters that “Planned Parenthood saves lives.”
Mike Pence and I hold very different values but are both somehow representatives of our shared town and state. Anyone who knows me well is probably aware that I have a complicated relationship with my hometown and it continues to shape me, the person I am and the person I will be. At the same time, I think if you asked my close friends, they wouldn’t hesitate to tell you I really dislike it. They aren’t really wrong. The sight of sunsets over rolling fields will always hold a special place in my heart, but to me, my hometown represents 18 years of feeling out of place.
Though I lived my entire pre-college life in Columbus, most of my neighbors and classmates there would not call me a local. Being a Hoosier is about heritage and values, not birth. In all fairness, I didn’t really consider myself a local either and, when I headed to Bowdoin, I naively assumed that my hometown and home state would be an unimportant part of my identity. I was eager to drive 22 hours to Maine and forget about it all as I moved on to better and brighter days. I was going to my people—the ones I had been waiting 18 years to meet.
At Bowdoin, I have found my best friends in the world but Indiana remains a peculiar part of me. I didn’t know that I had an accent before I came to Bowdoin. I didn’t know that my floormates would think my being from Indiana explained my music tastes. I didn’t think about the fact that I had never skied or sailed. I didn’t realize I would feel compelled to speak up—in class and elsewhere—for the same rural Americans I was bullied by at home.
After this election, I must consider and explain my hometown in a new context. While my peers from the coasts and cities may speak abstractly about the non-urban whites in the rust belt, this suddenly relevant part of our country is something very concrete to me. It is my best friend from second grade who was not allowed to spend time with me after his mom found out I was the ring bearer in a lesbian wedding. But it is also my neighbors who rushed to bring me balloons and a card when they found out I had pneumonia. It is all the kids in elementary and middle school who shunned me when they found out I wasn’t baptized and made certain I was aware I was going to hell. But it is also my high school teacher who still sends me care packages and takes me out to lunch when I go home. While kids in high school hated me for my Democratic political activism, my best friends traveled over 1,000 miles just to visit me for three days during our first year at college. To me, my town is a complex, weird, lived experience. But to others it is the rust belt, the corn belt, tornado alley and now, Trump/Pence country. As many of my peers struggle to understand a part of this nation they have never seen and don’t want to, I feel obligated once again to own and represent a place that is part of me but isn’t really mine.
Nickie Mitch is a member of the class of 2018.
Arts & Entertainment
Curtain Callers bring music to the morbid in 'Heathers the Musical'
Exploring suicide, sexual assault and gun violence in a suburban high school setting, Bowdoin’s student-run musical theater group Curtain Callers will perform the satirical, dark comedy “Heathers the Musical” this coming weekend.
The musical is based on the 1988 film “Heathers,” a cult classic set in a fictional Ohio high school. Unlike the movie, the show is focused primarily on the relationship between Veronica and J.D., two nerdy outcasts.
“It’s a high school comedy-drama gone so wrong,” said director Holly Hornbeck ’18.
The play centers around Veronica, who is invited to become friends with a group of popular girls at school, all named Heather. As the “Heathers” start to compromise Veronica’s image as the friendly girl, she devises a plan with the rebellious J.D. to kill the cool kids.
“Veronica is super satirical, ironic and ‘girl power all the way,’ so I have some rock-out, strong numbers. I love playing this character who’s just a really strong woman,” said Phoebe Smukler ‘17, who plays Veronica.
This year, “Heathers” will be performed in Kresge Auditorium, a location that allows the show to use more advanced audiovisual equipment. In the past, the Curtain Callers have put on performances such as “Sweeney Todd” in Chase Barn, which is not ideal due to its small size and lack of equipment. Hornbeck hopes that performing in Kresge will revamp the Curtain Callers’ image.
“It’s going to be a way bigger production than Curtain Callers has put on,” said Hornbeck.
Hornbeck decided she wanted to perform “Heathers” because of its popularity and cult following, and received enthusiastic responses when she told people she was considering directing it.
“I wanted an edgy show, I wanted a funny show, but I didn’t want to put on a show like ‘Rent’ because that was too much to live up to,” said Hornbeck.
The show also presents sensitive subject matter such as sexual assault and homophobia in a comical way and discusses the daily, relatable struggles of suburban high schoolers.
“The show does say a lot about, no matter who a person is and how they portray themselves, everyone does have inner insecurities and deeper issues,” said Hornbeck. “I think that the show itself takes these characters that seem so one dimensional, but then you are able to see their deeper struggles within their relationships and friendships.”
The show’s intense, violent topics are presented in such a nonchalant way that Hornbeck and Smukler hope that it will bring about discussion and draw awareness to the fact that these subjects are difficult to discuss.
“It’s satire and it’s dark … It’s definitely an imperfect show, but I do still think it has value as a satirical, dark comedy,” said Hornbeck. “You’ll be able to see the characters go on a journey and mature. It’s a coming-of-age story. I think it’s going to strike exactly the right tone.”
The musical will be performed this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Tickets are free and not required in advance.
Visiting artist Lily Bo Shapiro '12 joins student dancers in annual winter dance concert
Both experienced and novice dancers will debut their semester’s work this weekend at the annual December Dance Concert. Featuring a wide variety of repertory styles, the concert will also showcase the abstract work of visiting artist Lily Bo Shapiro ’12.
Senior Lecturer in Dance Performance Gwyneth Jones hopes that students will come to see their peers perform and recognize that the dance department includes dancers of all levels.
“I think that’s a pretty terrific thing to realize,” she said.
According to Nick Walker ’16, a dancer in the Modern II: Repertory and Performance class, energy between movements can differ, even within a single piece. He is dancing in a four-movement piece with five other dancers.
“The first and the third [movements] are just slower, more thoughtful, and then the second and fourth are a little more energetic,” he said.
Walker has taken three dance classes at Bowdoin and noted that his performance this year features the individual dancers’ creations more prominently than in the past. He and his peers were able to choreograph much of the routine.
Lucia Gagliardone ’20, also a dancer in Modern II, will make her dance debut this weekend. She said she thinks the dance, which involves partner and group work, offers the audience a different perspective of dance and interaction.
“Movement in an ensemble is really about trusting each other and working together,” she said, “There’s not a hierarchy. It’s all about the ensemble.”
“I do think that it’s an art form that is often taken for granted. I hope more people will start to love it too by seeing it,” Gagliardone said.
Students will share the stage with Shapiro, whose visit comes as part of an ongoing effort by the dance department to bring alumni to campus to perform for and connect with the students.
“[It’s a nice way] for students to see that alums are dancing outside of Bowdoin,” said Jones, who also produced this year’s concert. “And I think when you have exposure that’s also more personal—like they’re going to get to work with her—I think it’s … something you’ll remember for much longer.”
“It feels really good to come back to Bowdoin with a purpose or with a job: to be teaching, to be performing, to come back and have a really specific engagement with students and faculty and community,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro said that alumni and other guest artists can demonstrate the opportunities and possibilities that dance can open up to students.
“There are ways that dance or performance or art making can continue in one’s life or as a career, as a life practice,” she said.
The other three pieces in the concert come from the Making Dances class and the Modern I and Modern II: Repertory and Performance classes. Two of these classes, Making Dances and Modern I, are introductory-level, and their performances feature students who may have never danced before an audience.
Shapiro also encouraged students to participate in and attend live performances on campus.
“It’s important for the students to have opportunities to perform,” she said. “It’s also important for folks to go see live performance … It’s ritualistic, it’s religious, it’s spiritual, it’s community oriented, and I really do think that live performance can change lives.
Large-format bird illustrations take flight in Hawthorne-Longfellow
For the past year, a nearly 200-year-old, hand-colored edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” has been on display in Special Collections. A small crowd gathers on the first Friday of every month for a ceremonial page turning. Should the page-turning continue each month, it won’t be until the year 2052 that every page will have been displayed.
The book, which depicts one species on each page, is so large that it requires two librarians to turn the pages. Once a month, Special Collections holds this ceremonial page-turning in the Reading Room. The 12th page-turning event will take place on Friday at 12:30 p.m. and will feature a short presentation by biologist Justin Schuetz ’94.
Schuetz believes that the fusion of artistic and scientific talent represented in this rare edition of “The Birds of America” will draw a wide range of Bowdoin faculty, staff, students and community members to the page-turning.
“Some people will come because of an interest in art and art history. Others will come because of an interest in book making, and I suspect there will be some bird watchers there,” he said. “What Audubon does uniquely well is put all those people together in one room and have them see something that is interesting to all of them.”
Much like “The Birds of America,” Schuetz’s career and passions straddle the worlds of art and science. After graduating from Bowdoin, he earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University as well as a Masters of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. A selection of his photographic work was displayed at Bowdoin during the 2015-2016 academic year.
According to Special Collections Education and Outreach Librarian Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, a group of bird enthusiasts from the surrounding communities has consistently attended the page-turnings since the event debuted in January of this year.
“There is starting to be a community around the page turning. I think it’s a fun way to come in and see something totally different and have an excuse to stop studying for a minute,” Van Der Steenhoven said.
The event on Friday will reveal the bird to be on display for the month of December. Schuetz plans on discussing the biology of the species and the way in which that biology is depicted in Audubon’s art. Attendees of the event will receive a complimentary pin featuring the species of the month and will have the opportunity to explore a selection of books about birds that will be on display in the reading room.
Van Der Steenhoven hopes that the page-turning will help expose members of the Bowdoin community to Special Collections.
“I think that this department is a hidden treasure of the College,” she said.
- November 18
Guerrilla Girls visit builds on campus' social justice conversations
An anonymous woman in a gorilla mask visited campus last night to speak to students about the discrimination found in the art world and beyond. The speaker, a founding member of the Guerrilla Girls—an New York City-based collective of anonymous female artists devoted to combating sexism and racism in the art world—goes by the pseudonym “Frida Kahlo” in order to preserve her anonymity.
Formed in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls are known for their protests of social inequality through humorous multimedia and speaking engagements. Primarily in the form of witty, provocative posters using dry humor and statistics, the Guerrilla Girls generate discussion about the lack of diversity found in major institutions in the United States, such as household name museums and Hollywood.
In her talk, “Kahlo” discussed her experience working as a part of the Guerrilla Girls—what she called the “conscience of the art world”—and described their various projects, including a projection on the Whitney criticizing wealth in the art world that proclaimed: “Art is sooo expensive.”
“We didn’t do it at the Whitney. We did it on the Whitney,” said Kahlo of the projection.
Much of what the Guerrilla Girls aim to do is bring awareness to the gender inequality of art in museums and galleries; one poster they made in 2011 states that less than 4 percent of the artists in the modern art section at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are women, although 76 percent of the nude images in the museum are of women.
“In general, it’s a lot easier to be a male artist than a female artist in terms of being respected and being critiqued,” said June Lei ’18, head of Bowdoin Art Society (BAS). “If the Guerrilla Girls did not do what they did, like in the ’80s, I think we would live in a very different world today in terms of the arts and the way our culture is represented. They’ve done some really important things.”
Through their striking imagery and biting social commentary, the Guerrilla Girls have created major change in the global art society and sparked a new wave of activism.
“I think there’s a whole generation of artists now who are training to be artists and are rejecting the conventional idea of an artist as someone who produces expensive works of art for rich people,” said “Kahlo.” “Now, art students are rejecting that. And they want to use their skills to improve circumstances in the art.”
Lei came into contact with “Kahlo” during the summer of 2015 while interning at the Brooklyn Museum. She said that the issues the Guerrilla Girls address are beneficial for all Bowdoin students and emphasized the importance of engaging arts, not only as a solution, but as an avenue to a more equal society.
Following the For Freedoms initiative—a project that brought the works of the only artist-based super political action committee (PAC) to Bowdoin earlier this year—Lei hopes that the Guerilla Girls’ visit will serve to further bridge the gap between art and social activism on campus.
“I think the arts at Bowdoin can often times feel very removed. My hope is that people see the work of the Guerrilla Girls in the public sphere and they see that it’s a socially relevant thing as a way to get engaged and channel what they are feeling in their experiences of politics and social injustice,” said Lei. “And that they can then use those experiences and create something that speaks to other people.”
Beyond pushing for social change within museums, the Guerrilla Girls also use their hard-edge humor to spark discourse on civil commitment and social change at universities and colleges across the country.
“Last year, there was this whole conversation surrounding race on campus and so that’s really a nationwide student movement that’s happening,” said Lei. “I think that there’s a certain value to bringing in the big leagues and someone who knows what they are talking about and has a lot of experience with this.”
Kinaya Hassane ’19, who organized the program with Lei, thinks that bringing “Kahlo” to speak on campus can also help address issues that are especially salient given the presidential election.
“[The Guerrilla Girls discuss] broader politics and broader issues of gender and race, and I think now that’s especially relevant, given the fact that we have elected Donald Trump as our president,” said Hassane.
“I’m an art history major, so the issue of representation in art has always been important to me,” said Hailey Beaman ’18, creative director of the BAS. “Hearing that there are people who are so impassioned about that issue and have been for so long is really inspiring as a young person hoping to go into the art world in some capacity.”
For Kahlo, the work she’s done over the past 30 years can be summed up in one phrase: “It’s righteous fun.
- November 18
Meta-theater: 'Circle Mirror Transformation' puts acting class on stage
In a dance studio on the sixth floor of Memorial Hall, five strangers play theater games and make strange noises in a circle. It is here, in student-led theater troupe Beyond the Proscenium’s (BTP) fall show, “Circle Mirror Transformation,” that the audience is required to take off their shoes and suspend their belief as they are immersed in the lives of its minimal cast: a drama teacher, her husband, a divorced carpenter, a former actress and a high school junior.
Directed by Cordelia Orbach ’17, the show follows a theater class at a local community center in rural Vermont. Although the characters lead drastically different lives, their interactions with one another provide relatable snapshots of everyday life.
“Acting is an exercise in empathy. It’s about learning about other people and trying to know them and figure out what makes them tick,” Orbach said. “The world is big and we are just college students. But our lives are real and our struggles are felt, and that’s an important part of this show.”
According to Orbach, the range of character experiences in the show produces an appreciation of the seemingly insignificant: the 16-year-old’s all-consuming desire to be the lead in the school play is felt as deeply as the loneliness of the divorced carpenter.
BTP was founded by Orbach and Sarah Guilbault ’18 in 2014 in an effort to bring student theater to non-traditional spaces on campus. The organization produces most shows in a three-week period, which Orbach said appeals to busy Bowdoin students who want to engage in on-campus theater but might not have time for a seven-week production.
With small cast sizes and intimate venues, BTP also prides itself in its ability to create unity among the cast as well as to break down the barrier between the audience and the actors. With just a yoga ball and a hula hoop for props, “Circle Mirror Transformation” is one of the group’s most personal shows yet.
“Part of the mission of BTP is bringing the audience into the play instead of asking them to opt in,” Orbach said.
According to Jamie Boucher ’19, who plays divorced carpenter Schultz in the show, the cast was able to tap into the messages of the play in order to overcome their greatest obstacle: finding the motivation to rehearse after an intense election week.
Boucher noted that the universal themes of the show—loss and love, fear of death, importance of the individual, among others—were ultimately a comfort for the group.
“It’s a valuable lesson that one can apply to rest of one’s life: everybody’s just human, just futsin’ around, trying really hard all the time,” Boucher said. “No one really knows what they’re doing, and so it’s a lesson to remind people that when it feels like the sky is falling down because Donald Trump has been elected—or even if it doesn’t, even if you’re celebrating—everyone only has two sets of eyeballs out of which they look at the world.”
“So much of theater is learning to be vulnerable and exploring parts of yourself that may really not be you, or parts that are more you than you realize,” added Rowan Staley ’18, who plays the drama teacher in the show. “It’s interesting to both be that person who’s acting and being vulnerable but then also playing someone who is being vulnerable and acting.”
- November 18
Provocative student art brings menstrual blood, Trump's face in view
Controversial art exhibits have been installed around campus as part of Professor of Art Michael Kolster’s Large Format Photography class. One of these installations—which prompted a response from the administration—involved photos of Donald Trump taped over photos of students in David Saul Smith Union.
In order for students to explore the concept of installation, Professor Kolster asked students to curate an installation anywhere on Bowdoin’s campus. Throughout the assignment, Kolster emphasized nontraditional space, encouraging his students to place photographs in areas where members of the community don’t normally encounter artwork.
Large Format Photography is a 2000-level class in which students harness the large format camera to continue developing skills and themes explored in Photo 1. The camera’s bulk, heft and myriad adjustments result in a totally different photographic experience than that of smaller cameras. Students shoot one negative at a time, slowing down the photographic process.
Students could choose to use their own photographs or the photographs of others for their installations. According to Professor Koster, the goal of the project was for the message and themes of the photographs to take precedence over authorship. He encouraged students to think about the interaction between the space, the audience and the installation.
This assignment resulted in nine different installments around campus. Victoria Pitaktong ’17 attempted to reduce the stigma around women’s periods by hanging images of her friends’ bloody pads in the stalls of the men’s bathroom in David Saul Smith Union.
“I think there’s a lot of taboo around the period—that it’s nasty, people just don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “I find it difficult to hear when men say that women are just whining about their periods when they’re going through pain. You can’t even look at these things directly, how can you say women are weak?”
Nick Benson ’17 produced an equally provocative installment, in which he covered the pictures of students in the hallway of Smith Union with large pictures of Donald Trump’s face.
“I hate looking at his face; it really grosses me out. I think I dislike looking at his face so much because I associate it with his voice and I associate his voice with idiocy,” said Benson. “I was trying to set up an installation for people like me who hate looking at his face but woke up on Wednesday morning knowing that we have to get used to the realization of seeing it.”
According to Benson, the installment was met with mixed reviews: only twenty minutes after he installed it, college administrators moved the pictures to the other side of the hallway. After Benson repositioned them in their original spot, a student ripped up the pictures and threw them in the recycling bin in a matter of minutes. However, this strong reaction didn’t discourage Benson.
“I think the visceral reaction of the viewer is something I was really going for, because we’re going to have to get used to it,” said Benson, “I mean, seeing his pictures in the Union for five minutes is way less painful than having him as our president for four years.”
Despite the varied reactions to the installments across campus, Kolster said he was proud of how the projects turned out.
“There were varying degrees of provocation and varying degrees of things that they were trying to say, varying degrees of social or aesthetic engagement that the installations worked with,” he added. “All of us as image makers seek on some level to have them be seen, to make a contribution to the larger conversation.”
- November 18
Visiting performance artist showcases female determination
Performance and sculpture artist Kate Gilmore introduced herself to a crowded Kresge auditorium on Monday evening with a series of videos of herself covered in dust. Hammering away at a hardened bucket of plaster stuck on her foot, the Halley K. Harrisburg ’90 and Michael Rosenfeld Artist-In-Residence kicked off her week-long visit with a presentation of her work. One such presentation depicted her with an axe, chopping down a giant, fake-blood-oozing wooden heart.
Gilmore’s video presentations primarily showcased females working through obstacles with relentless determination. In some of her graduate school productions, Gilmore even dressed up as Hillary Clinton as a symbol of female perseverance.
“I’m interested in looking at power structures in society, I’m interested in using art as a means of communication to talk about things that should change and I’m interested in the conversation between art and power,” said Gilmore.
Gilmore, who will spend the rest of her visit with students in the classroom discussing their work one-on-one, emphasized the importance of unity for both aspiring artists and accomplished artists within the art community, specifically in the aftermath of the recent election.
Gilmore said that a majority of the art community is shaken up by the election, although she maintains a hopeful outlook.
“We need to not be isolated anymore, [we need to be] like a community. We should do something better for the world in general … while doing things together and creating personal, lasting relationships,” she said.
According to Anne Curtis ’20, a student who attended the event, Gilmore’s work, particularly her Clinton piece, spoke to the empowerment often found in feminist art.
“Ms. Gilmore was a very engaging speaker who was very passionate about her work and was excited to share that passion with us,” she said. “Her approach to art was very interesting, and she has a very unique method to convey her messages.”
Emily Olick-Llano ’20 was particularly interested in Gilmore’s video of women stomping on ceramic vases full of paint.
“I really enjoyed Kate Gilmore’s video of women stomping on ceramic vases full of paint,” Emily Olick-Llano ’20 added. “It was a scene that [I’d never pictured] when thinking about art, but I loved the uniformity of the color and arrangement before and after the vases were destroyed. It was both unsettling and empowering.”
- November 11
Interdisciplinary artist Anne Walsh discusses art in the context of a Trump presidency
Thursday night, interdisciplinary artist Anne Walsh gave a talk that she revamped the day before in response to the unexpected election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
In an interview hours before her talk, she admitted that “life got in the way” of her plans for the talk when Trump won on Tuesday.
“I felt that it was so irrelevant for me to go across the country and pull out my slideshow and go, ‘Here’s my work,’” Walsh said. “And then I was leaving and … I thought about how I could curate a selection of pieces to show today that would allow me to say something I wouldn’t have otherwise thought about.”
She hoped that in her talk she would be able to say “Here’s how I can move forward, here’s where I’m going to find my faith, and here’s where I’m going to draw courage from to endure.”
Much of the talk took on new, unexpected meaning in the context of Trump’s election on Tuesday, particularly when Walsh focused on one of her pieces featured on The Thing Quarterly, a website that “publishes objects.” The piece displays a solid rubber wedge engraved with a letter Walsh wrote to tennis star Billie Jean King as a young girl after King beat Bobby Riggs in one of the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis matches.
During her talk, she projected the wedge on the wall and read the engraving aloud.
“[Y]ou are my inspiration because you are so strong,” she had written to King. “You are so passionate about equality for girls and women. You won that match for me and for everyone who cares about women’s lib.”
Reading the letter again, Walsh almost began to cry. She said it was a realization that this letter was something that her own young daughter could have written if the Hillary Clinton had won the election.
“Let’s make some doorstops,” she continued. “Let’s keep the door open.”
Walsh said that seeing art in the San Francisco airport before her flight here reminded her of the craft’s importance.
“I don’t know if any of what I’m going to show you today is going to make you feel hopeful or like organizing,” she said. “But the work that I saw today made me feel better. One of the places I have to begin is just by affirming what my values are, and one of them is just that I really deeply believe that all kinds of art need to exist … I’m going to keep making work.”
Much of the content of Walsh’s talk focused on the concept of translation. She played audio recordings from a piece which she and sound designer Chris Kubick produced in conjunction with the Whitney Museum of American Art. They recorded psychic mediums attempting to contact the deceased artist Joseph Cornell’s spirit and “translated” that into audio tours for visitors at the museum.
In her piece “An Annotated Hearing Trumpet,” she began by attempting to adapt the book “The Hearing Trumpet” into a movie. Instead, she has created an ongoing interdisciplinary project including images and writing that will eventually be published as a book.
The project has become like a hall of mirrors that explores what it means for humans to adapt and translate art.
“The book that was gonna be a movie is gonna be a book about a book going to be a movie,” she said.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art Erin Johnson was a graduate student of Walsh’s at the University of California, Berkeley. She said she was excited for her own students to get to meet one of her most influential teachers.
“There’s this nice closing of a circle for a moment in which we can all have conversations together that were started in my own life via Anne,” she said. “Thinking about lineage and influence is exciting and important to me as an artist and a woman.”
- November 11
Students revive Professor Robinson's 90s play based on 'Krazy Kat' comic
Professor of Theater Davis Robinson drew inspiration from the early 1900s comic strip “Krazy Kat” when he adapted the story of a dynamic cat and mouse duo for his award-winning theater company. This weekend, Bowdoin students will revive Robinson’s play, bringing it to the stage for the first time in over 20 years.
“Krazy Kat” originated as a newspaper comic strip by cartoonist George Herriman and ran for over 30 years from 1913-1944. Set in the desert of Coconino County, Arizona, the strip centers around Krazy, a happy-go-lucky cat, and Ignatz, a cranky mouse. Ignatz hates Krazy and devises clever plans to throw bricks at Krazy. At the same time, Krazy secretly loves Ignatz and misinterprets Ignatz’s assaults as signs of affection. Before things get out of hand, Offica Bull Pup, a benevolent cop, intervenes, often throwing Ignatz in jail.
The plot for this show, however, has much more depth. The play was created in 1995 by Robinson with his theater company, Beau Jest. Pulling the best scenes out of several hundred comic strips, Robinson worked carefully to put the play together for almost a year and performed it in Boston. It received rave reviews. Now, back with his original design team at Bowdoin, he felt it was the right time to bing the show to campus.
“When I chose this play in the spring, I knew that it would be Election Week,” said Robinson. “The characters are animals, so it breaks away from the bifurcated idea of Republicans and Democrats. We’re all going to want to be throwing bricks at each other at the end of this election campaign. But at the same time there’s a need to heal, to sing, to dance, to be in a room together, regardless of whose nerves were frayed.”
Robinson chose to adapt the show from its original version to highlight current issues, such as gender identity.
“George Herriman never answered the question of whether Krazy is male or female, and he often switches Krazy’s pronouns,” said Robinson. “That issue has surfaced this time around in a whole different way, with our awareness of gender being a more fluid spectrum. Now that we’re in 2016, the actors and I looked through the strip and found scenes that fleshed out that aspect of the plot line further.”
In addition to its sense of humor, the production is unique in its use of sound effects. Conner Lovett ‘19, the sound Foley operator, has worked in tech for previous shows at Bowdoin, but said he has never felt so involved.
“My role in the show is to produce all the sound effects, and there are many important ones,” says Lovett. “Since this show is based off a cartoon, I’m using classic noisemakers, like a slapstick and a slide whistle. For example, every time Ignatz Mouse throws a brick, I can hit a whistle and a knock.”
The audience at Thursday’s premiere seemed to appreciate the dynamic use of sound—Daniel O’Berry was reminded of Looney Toons cartoons throughout the show.
“They really utilized sound to enhance the comedy and the energy of the scene,” he said. “On the whole, it was phenomenal.”
Though the play is based on a comic strip, its humor, themes and characters appeal to both children and adults. Sophie Sadovnikoff ‘19, who plays Krazy in the show, said she loves working on the show and encourages everyone to go for a fun night of comedic release.
“‘Krazy Kat’ is the perfect break from the real world right now,” said Sadovnikoff. “With everything that’s going on, it’s nice to spend an hour or so in a world that’s not so serious, full of joy and without hate.”
“Krazy Kat” will be performed on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall’s Pickard Theater. Tickets are free and are available at the door.
- November 11
Israeli photographer to speak on Jewish identity, masculinity
Acclaimed Israeli photographer Adi Nes will visit Bowdoin on Tuesday to deliver the Harry Spindel Memorial Lecture. His large-format photographs tackle issues of Jewish identity and masculinity, and will be a part of the exhibition “Art and Resolution: 1900 to Today” at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.
Nes was invited to be the lecturer after Harrison King McCann Professor of English Marilyn Reizbaum sent the Museum a proposal for his photographs to be displayed. She is exploring his work in her upcoming book “Unfit: The Jewish Science of Modernism.”
In his lecture, titled “Issues of Identity,” Nes will speak about his artistic style, his use of staged photography and the ways in which his photographs reflect the various facets of Israeli identity.
The exhibit will feature Nes’ photographs, which are large-format staged images that tell fictional stories about Israeli society. According to Reizbaum, the size of the photographs is important as it contributes to the dramatic nature of the images.
She added that by working on the same scale as old master artists, such as French Romantic artist Delacroix, Nes is able to speak to current moments and the ways in which they answer questions of Jewishness.
Ellen Tani, Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral curatorial fellow at the Museum, explained that the images are “references to an ideal utopia and on-the-ground grit of daily life.”
“He works in series and most of the works are untitled, and that’s purposeful because it lets the viewer come cleanly to the work without their own expectation of what it’s about without looking at it,” Tani said.
The larger exhibit, “Art and Resolution: 1900 to Today,” focuses on how artists use their practice to reckon with various challenges of our time.
“When I was putting it together, I was thinking about, in a global sense, what are artists confronting in their world in the last 100 years?” said Tani.
Tani felt as though Nes’ work fit well with the exhibition as it added a new dimension to the conversation about 20th and 21st century artwork.
“The drive of his photographic practice aligns really nicely with that theme and provides a really fascinating angle to which other works in our collection can’t necessarily speak, namely issues of ethnic difference in Israel, within Jewish culture and around issues relating to masculinity in Israeli culture,” Tani said.
Reizbaum, who has been in contact extensively with Nes for her book, expects that students will enjoy hearing Nes speak. According to Tani, the Museum hopes that the lecture and exhibit will allow students to gain new global perspectives on the concepts of difference and conflict, specifically in relation to race.
“So many of our conversations are preoccupied with racial frictions we are familiar with in the U.S.,” Tani said. “I hope that this stretches people’s notions of how this isn’t something that is unique to our culture. The fact that this is a human difference, is something that is experienced worldwide and that has great impact on lives that we don’t necessarily understand.”
“Art and Resolution: 1900 to Today” will be on display at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art fromNovember 15 through April 16, 2017.
Bowdoin and Colby face off in 207th game of storied rivalry
The men’s hockey team (3-2, 1-1 NESCAC) hopes to be at its best this weekend when it plays in the 207th and 208th matches of its famed rivalry against Colby (3-1, 2-0 NESCAC) in two key league games this weekend.
“It’s a little different for us this year because we’re kind of chasing them in the standings, where normally it’s the other way around,” captain Brendan Conroy ’17 said. “But it’s still the third NESCAC game of the [year], so I think just setting the pace for the rest of the season.”
Though Colby is ahead in the standings, captain Mitch Barrington ’17 believes that the team has the ability to beat the Mules.
“Colby is in first place right now, so we’re trying to knock them off and get two wins which will be tough but I think it’s something that we expect to do,” he said. “It won’t come easily but I think we can definitely achieve it if we play two good games.”
According to new Head Coach Jamie Dumont, the key to winning this weekend will be playing a full game of “Bowdoin hockey.”
“These games are always fun from a fan’s perspective,” Dumont said. “From a coach’s perspective, it’s an emotional roller coaster. The big thing for us is that we just want to make sure we’re playing our game and focusing on what we’re doing well.”
The main challenge for the team is to focus on the game instead of the crowd, according to captain Matt Sullivan ’17.
“It’s always a packed house which is a lot of fun, but it can throw you off your game a little bit if you’re not careful,” Sullivan said. “I think that’s something to keep in consideration: going into the weekend and knowing that [we’re playing] two NESCAC games just like every other weekend. We fully expect to be competitive and win those games.”
A key factor in the team’s success so far this season has been its depth, which was especially evident in its 8-3 win against Becker College on Tuesday.
“Our secondary scoring has been very good,” said Dumont. “What I mean by that is that we’re not just relying on one or two guys. We have everybody chipping in and we’re getting a lot of help from all forward lines and six [defensemen] and all four goalies.”
Though several key players have been out of the lineup due to suspensions, Barrington believes that the team has been playing well so far this season.
“We’ve done well especially considering some of the circumstances we’ve been under,” Barrington said. “We’ve had guys suspended for a few games and each game there have been some key guys out of the lineup. With that in mind, we’ve performed pretty well. We’ve played some good teams and gotten more wins than losses so I think we’re on the right track and have had a pretty successful start.”
Despite the challenges that come with the absence of key players, openings in the lineup have given underclassmen a chance to play and contribute to the team’s success.
“Every guy has gotten an opportunity to play which is pretty great. A lot of guys have been able to show their worth and the guys have really bonded together with certain key guys out of the lineup,” Barrington said. “It’s definitely probably brought about more cohesion and team chemistry and just makes winning feel a bit better considering everything that has happened and stuff like that.”
The added playing time is also essential to the development of first years, according to Dumont.
“They’ve been thrown into a very important role right off the get go, which is good because they can get their feet wet pretty quickly,” Dumont said. “They’ve stepped up unbelievably and responded, with some growing pains, but all in all, their coachability, their work ethic and their attention to detail has been outstanding.”
In his first year as head coach, Dumont has focused on the larger legacy of the program rather than implementing major changes.
“This program has been successful for 100 years. Our big thing as coaches that we really want to make sure the guys know is that anytime you put on a jersey, you’re putting it on for people that have played before you and represented this program,” Dumont said. “Make sure you bring it, bring it with class and play hard for your teammates.”
The faceoff will be at 7 p.m. tonight at Watson Arena. All student tickets have been distributed for the game, but a limited number of returned tickets will be available at the door at 6 p.m. tonight.
Women's basketball opens with four-game win streak
The women’s basketball team remains undefeated this season after a 85-40 blowout win over the University of Southern Maine (1-5) on Tuesday. The Polar Bears have dominated their first four games, scoring at least 85 points and winning by a margin of more than 20 points in each.
Head Coach Adrienne Shibles attributes the Polar Bears’ early success to the team’s increased depth and number of players. The team is the biggest it’s been in the last 10 years.
“We have 16 rostered women and there’s not a weak link in the roster,” said Shibles. “I think that’s definitely our strength and it allows us to do a lot more exciting things defensively, like extending the pressures … [pushing] the ball more and [playing] at a really high pace.”
The graduation of Shannon Brady ’16 last spring has also caused shifts in the team’s strategy.
“I think we came to rely on [Brady] too heavily last season,” Shibles said. “We would look to her to do things that we needed, like when we needed a basket or anything. This year thus far, it’s still early but I really like that on any given night, it could be any one of our players who is the high scorer. It could be any of our players who is making the big play. And so that more balanced approach is really exciting.”
“Last year we only had one senior and this year we have five. That creates a different dynamic [on] the court,” said Marle Curle ’17. “Position-wise, Shannon Brady was our center and she was a dominant force on the court. This year, it’s kind of more dribble drive offense in. Just a lot more movement in our offense. It’s a different style from last year.”
While Brady’s strength was a definite advantage last season, this year’s more dynamic offense can be more difficult for opposing teams’ defenses.
“Defensively last year, a lot of teams would hone in on [Brady] because she was so talented and she contributed a lot of points for us,” said Norton. “And it’s really nice that this year we have a more balanced scoring attack. I think a prime example was [against Southern Maine]. I don’t think anyone had more than 12 points.”
The team’s closest match of the season was their 87-63 win over the University of New England, an improvement over last year when the Polar Bears fell to the Nor’easters by 20 points. Bowdoin dominated much of the game, taking a 42-22 lead into halftime. Although the Nor’easters narrowed the Polar Bears’ lead to 58-44 in the third quarter, the Polar Bears soundly won the game.
Despite the team’s successful start to the season, Shibles says that there is still room for improvement.
“I think we’ve just come out less focused defensively,” said Shibles. “We have been putting up huge points, so I’m not too concerned about offense thus far. But if you look at our third quarter defensive performance, in my mind, we’re giving out too many points.”
The team looks to focus on its defense in the future, particularly as it heads into its first NESCAC match of the season against Colby, where Brady works as the assistant coach.
“We try to think of every team as a faceless opponent so on one hand, it’s Shannon on the opposite team, but we just try see our opponents as our opponents for that day,” said Norton. “We’re trying to learn from each game and improve. We’re really not looking three games in advance and four games in the future. We’re just focused on the next one.”
The team will travel to Colby at 2 p.m. on Saturday as it looks to extend its win streak to five.
Editor's note, Thursday, December 8, 12:40pm: The headline has been updated to correct an error in the length of the team's win streak.
Strong goalkeeping powers women's ice hockey to unbeaten start
The undefeated women’s ice hockey team (2-0-1, 1-0-1 NESCAC) hopes to continue its hot start against Saint Anselm this Saturday.
Goalies Kerri St. Denis ’19 and Sophia Lattanzio ’19 have played key roles in the team’s success, conceding only three goals in the first three games.
This week, St. Denis was named NESCAC Player of the Week are averaging 1.44 goals against and a .946 save percentage in her first two games. She is the first Bowdoin goalie to earn the honor since 2014. After making her program debut in the team’s season opener at Colby, St. Denis held the Holy Cross offense to one goal last Saturday with 33 saves.
Lattanzio made her season debut in a shutout victory against Colby in the team’s home-opener. According to Head Coach Marissa O’Neil, the dynamic duo of St. Denis and Lattanzio will provide the team with a key advantage of flexibility and depth in goal throughout the season.
“If we were to keep that one goal against average, we’d be pretty happy and definitely win some games this year,” O’Neil said. “It’ll be great if we continue to have two goalies. I think it makes it more challenging for our opponents—especially when we have back-to-back NESCAC games—if we can alternate goalies. Two different styles of play can throw an opponent off.”
The team has found early success through avoiding injuries and focusing on a key offensive tactic that involves strategic positioning in front of the opponent’s goal to create scoring opportunities.
“It is a big change from last year that people are getting themselves in those positions,” O’Neil said. “It may not be a pretty goal, hit off a shinpad and you may not even see it, but you are creating traffic, getting to rebounds, screening the goalie, and all those things can make a difference when you are trying to put a goal in.”
In addition to change in strategy, the roster has shifted. The young team features only eight upperclassmen. However, the developments have not hurt the team’s performance.
“We have three seniors, five juniors and the rest are underclassmen, which is hard in terms of experience but it’s worked shockingly well because everyone has just stepped up,” captain Jess Bowen ’17 said. “It’s going surprisingly well to have a such young team playing like they have the experience in games that are really hard to play.”
Strong chemistry and communication have contributed to the team’s early success. Despite the team’s youth, the team has communicated exceptionally well both on and off the ice.
“We’ve done a lot more of that this year and a lot more as a team meeting up and talking about what we want out of this season,” Bowen said. “We want a culture that’s competitive but not cut-throat and we talk about not being comfortable and holding each other accountable.”
O’Neil added that team culture can boost confidence, which translates to strength on the ice.
“I think as we began to develop more chemistry, confidence is going to pick up and no matter the sport and no matter the level, confidence can make or break you,” she added.
The team will use its growing chemistry to build on its early success.
“We are not looking to peak in November,” O’Neil said. “This year we just want to get better week to week. I’m really proud of the team culture off the ice right now and I think it translates to success on the ice. We have momentum.”
After struggling to fill rosters, squash teams head into first league matches
The women’s and men’s squash teams began their seasons 0-2, after both losing to Trinity and Drexel in their opening matches.
Though losses to two top-10 teams would not normally be disheartening, both teams have struggled to fill their rosters since before the season due to injured players and juniors studying off campus. Each team needs to fill at least nine spots on its roster as that is the number of individual games played in a squash match.
According to Head Coach Tomas Fortson, having a small team is not uncommon in the sport. Composed of both recruits and walk-ons, there is no guarantee that the Bowdoin teams’ numbers will match those of other programs. In the NESCAC, on average about 16 and 13 players compose a men’s and women’s team, respectively.
However, this year’s roster issues proved especially difficult as the men’s team questioned its ability to even field a nine-man roster this fall.
As a result, Fortson opened up spots to beginner walk-ons on both teams. While this is a fairly regular practice for the women’s team, the men’s team has only done so one other time in its history.
For the women’s team, one of the two walk-ons did not have any previous experience. The men’s team accepted three walk-ons—two with no experience and one with low-level high school experience.
With roster numbers still challengingly low, this year’s beginner walk-ons have had significantly more playing time than in the past, especially on the men’s side.
“They’re learning quickly, but they [are not] ready this year for the most part,” said Fortson. “Right now it’s just an opportunity for them to get involved and hopefully they can realistically be playing matches next year.”
The addition of the new players has also impacted the culture of both teams. A younger, less-experienced team placed a new emphasis on the top of the ladder.
With the hopes for improvement of the teams’ bottom halves as the season progresses, there is high potential for success.
Women’s captain Sarah Nelson ’17 and men’s captain Christian Dorff ’17 acknowledged the difficulties of competing as a novice but were positive about the improvement of the teams’ new members.
“They’ve definitely been a positive presence,” said Dorff. “Walking on is a hard thing to do, but they’re all doing a good job and I think they’ll end up being valuable members of the team.”
“Our program really stresses development of players and not always recruiting the top players of the class, but rather players that have a lot of potential,” said Nelson.
As the teams prepare for their matches against Bates today, Fortson says each member is focusing on improving individually and learning from the previous two losses.
For both teams, this match is an interesting challenge since the Bates’ teams are similarly strong at the top. This will also be the women’s first time facing Bates since last season’s victory, which was the women’s first win over Bates in a decade.
With many matches to come and a lot of room for improvement, both Fortson and the teams’ captains are optimistic for the season.
“Every year is the same for us: we hope to have people who are pretty committed to the relationships they have amongst themselves and to the process of improving every day regardless of level,” said Fortson. “If we can stay healthy and keep getting better, we should have a good season.”
highlight reel: 11/18 - 12/1
Ruling the pool.
Bowdoin swimming swept the NESCAC Performers of the Week last week with Sterling Dixon ’19 and Karl Sarier ’19 earning the honors for the women’s and men’s teams, respectively. In the teams’ first meet against Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dixon won all three of her individual events and Sarier earned two first-place finishes, as well as a close second place just .14 seconds behind the leader. The teams will host the Maine State Meet this weekend.
Men’s basketball starts off the season 3-2 after holding on for a hard-fought 86-79 win against Southern Maine at home on Tuesday. The game featured a dynamic attack as five Polar Bears scored in the double digits and the team outrebounded the Huskies 44 to 35. The team will face off against Colby at home on Saturday at 3 p.m. in its first NESCAC game of the season.
Four members of the field hockey team earned All-Region honors from the National Field Hockey Coaches Association after standout performances this year. Captain Kimmy Ganong ’17 was named to the All-Region First Team for the second consecutive year after earning 35 points this season. Joining Ganong, midfielder Juliana Fiore ’18 also earned a spot on the First Team in her first All-Region selection. Elizabeth Bennewitz ’19 was named to the Second Team in her first season starting for the Polar Bears, along with Mettler Growney ’17, who has received All-Region honors for three consecutive years.
Two members of the women’s soccer team earned All-New England honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America this week. Defender Taylor Haist ’17 was named to the All-Region Second Team and defender and midfielder Nikki Wilson ’18 was named to the All-Region Third Team. The duo has led the Polar Bear defense for the last two years, starting in every game and helping the team to allow only .61 goals per game this fall.
More than the game.
The NESCAC recognized Bowdoin athletes this week for outstanding performance off the field with All-Academic and All-Sportsmanship honors. Ninety-nine fall athletes earned Academic All-NESCAC selections and nine athletes were selected by their teams and coaches as All-Sportsmanship choices. Women’s soccer’s Taylor Haist ’17 and volleyball’s Quincy Leech ’17 were selected as All-Sportsmanship and All-Academic honorees in addition to earning All-NESCAC honors this season.
- November 18
Football team faces familiar woes after winless season
The Bowdoin football team has never had any periods of sustained success. Since 1990, the team has had just two seasons with five or more wins. The team has not had back-to-back seasons over .500 since 1979-80. In 125 years of football, the team has gone 394-516-44—equating to a .436% winning percentage.
Many players point to confidence as the key to turning around the program.
“It’s really a sense of belief, and that comes with a few years of success,” captain Nadim Elhage ’16 said.
Past players, present players, coaches and administrators all believe that, even more than recruiting or coaching, a winning tradition is the most important factor for achieving success.
“Winning and losing are habitual,” Football Head Coach J.B. Wells said.
The difficult part is breaking the cycle. Trinity was often mentioned as an example of a team accustomed to winning. Players can sense the gap in attitudes between programs like Bowdoin’s and Trinity’s on the field.
“The biggest difference is that [teams like Trinity] they expect to win … year after year,” Elhage said.
The top teams in the NESCAC really do win every year. Since 1990, Trinity has had only one losing season. They have also had seven undefeated seasons in that span. Another NESCAC powerhouse, Amherst, had a 21-game winning streak spanning four seasons before they lost to Middlebury this fall.
Recruiting plays a crucial role in determining a football program’s success. The official description of NESCAC recruiting was detailed in a 2005 New York Times article, as well as 2014 articles by both the Orient and the Bates Student.
In football, recruiting essentially entails trying to acquire the biggest, fastest, quickest players, who have the best instincts for the game and the best character off the field, who also won’t fail in the classroom. More than in most sports, size is crucial.
“One of the biggest things you notice when playing against the top teams, is that you see the guys are bigger, like the Trinity offensive line, their boundary side tackle is like 6-4, 320 lbs and a lot of times you would think they’re more athletic,” said Elhage. “I think that has to do with the academic caliber at Bowdoin. Not to make an excuse, but we’re not letting in a lot of the students that a lot of the other schools are letting in.”
The size differences of players—drastic at times—marks the most visible, calculable difference between top NESCAC teams and the less successful teams in the league. In football, size might not be everything, but uneven matchups on the line are tough to overcome.
“The offensive line is the only place where size matters a ton,” said Wells. “They’ve got to sit back and anchor their feet. Offensive linemen are either like sledgehammers or railroad spikes. If you have to get off the ball and hit somebody, you’re like the hammer. But you also have to put your foot in the ground and sit down against somebody running into you, you gotta be able to absorb that. That’s where size matters most.”
For deans and athletic directors around the NESCAC, recruiting is a touchy subject. In a 2014 Bates article on the subject, the Bates Dean of Admissions declined to comment on recruiting, saying that it was against league policy to discuss the process. Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan does not think there are any recruiting differences between NESCAC schools.
“Every institution has essentially the same process,” said Ryan. “There are parameters across the conference that are the same in terms of the overall number of support opportunities … Different schools can allocate those resources as they’d would like across their own individual programs, but there are guidelines in place to ensure the system is consistent across the whole conference.”
NESCAC guidelines allocate two recruiting spots to each team at a school, with the exception of football, which receives 14. However, each college is allowed to decide how these spots and the associated resources are actually spread amongst their individual programs.
Once each team uses up its recruiting spots, the team largely relies on admissions to accept students who play each sport at a high level. Wells suggests that cooperation, as opposed to working outside the system, is the key to acquiring recruits that might be considered borderline applicants by the admissions office.
“I think a lot of people point fingers at the admissions office and they say, ‘they’re too stringent, they’re not giving you the players you need.’ You hear that a lot, they’re not ‘giving you the players.’ Well, it’s not admissions’ responsibility to give us anything really. It’s the responsibility for the offices to work together,” he said.
Wells also noted differences in recruiting at Bowdoin compared to when he was the Head Coach of the Endicott football team.
“The average student at Endicott was probably going to visit three, four, five, times before making a decision,” he said. “Here they might be able to visit one time. So, one of the biggest differences between recruiting at Bowdoin and Endicott is the limited face-to-face contact, the limited times that each recruit gets to visit campus at Bowdoin.”
Ryan does not believe schools lower admission standards for football players in a significant way.
“There may be slight variations, but no institution is going to have members of an athletic program who are considerably outside the range of the rest of the student body,” he said.
This provides an explanation for why Trinity would be able to out-recruit a school like Bowdoin: they have lower academic averages in the admissions process, and therefore have a greater pool of student-athletes to choose from.
Schools like Wesleyan and Tufts are simply bigger. Tufts has 5,000 undergraduates, and Wesleyan has 3,000, so they have a greater pool of admitted students who want to play football, outside of standard recruits. So they have the potential to receive more walk-ons.
Removing Trinity, Tufts and Wesleyan, what explains Amherst’s success? If Amherst and Bowdoin are assumed to be on the same academic level, why are they able to stock their team with more, and bigger, bodies?
“That’s the million-dollar question. If you figure that out, call me. That’s the code [we’re] trying to crack,” Wells said.
An important difference between the schools, in Wells’ view, is consistency in staff. Having the same coaches, year after year, delivering the same message to the players, is important.
“If you don’t have a lot of turnover on your staff, that allows you to improve more effectively, communicate more effectively, teach more effectively,” Wells said. “If you have good coaches that are good recruiters, over a long period of time that helps your team.”
Wells also pointed to communication between offices as a key to success.
“With football, you really have to be vertically aligned. From your players, to your coaches, to your athletic director, to your admissions office, to your president, you all have to be on the same page,” Wells said.
At the end of the day, however, games are played on the field, not at desks. Bowdoin players and administrators have emphasized that, record aside, the team is moving in the right direction.
“There’s never a time when we’re playing a team, and what we’re doing is just completely wrong. For example, Coach Bloom has been great at dissecting opposing offenses … really any time there have been big plays against our defense it’s kids not executing. When we’re doing what we’re supposed to against the best teams in the league, they’re not able to do anything,” Elhage said.
In building a successful football program, the margin of error is incredibly small and a host of factors puts Bowdoin at a disadvantage. Bowdoin does not operate with the same set of rules as Trinity or Amherst. When compared to other Maine schools, Bowdoin actually performs quite well. Bowdoin has traditionally been the best DIII football program in the state and has won the most Colby-Bates-Bowdoin championships, with 20.
- November 18
Shibles creates her own legacy while honoring former coach
When women’s basketball coach Adrienne Shibles started coaching, she drew inspiration from her former coach at Bates, Marsha Graef, who passed away last fall at age 61. Years later, Shibles has gone on to inspire many of her own players to take up coaching, forming a coaching tree of her own.
After holding a ceremony to dedicate Bates’ new women’s locker room to Graef, Alison Montgomery ’05—current Bates head coach and Shibles’ former assistant coach at Bowdoin—and Shibles announced that the season-opening Maine Tip-Off Tournament will be renamed after Graef as well.
“Since [Graef] passed last winter, it’s been a real opportunity for the people in the Bates community to honor everything she gave to our community when she was here and also when she passed,” Montgomery said. “And Adrienne said that we had that celebration in October, but she wanted to continue that celebration and honor her again with this tournament.”
Shibles not only appreciates Graef for everything she did for the Bates basketball program, but also for inspiring her to go into the profession at a time when Shibles did not even think it was a career that was open to her.
“I realized that she was leading in a way that I wanted to. Once I saw she could do it, all of a sudden doors were open to me,” Shibles said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I can do this.’ If I did not have her as a coach, I wouldn’t have followed in that path. I wouldn’t have even considered it as a possibility because I had only seen men in that role up to that point.”
Today, Shibles still strives to emulate Graef’s caring attitude toward the individual players.
“Our coaching styles are very different but at the core of her coaching style, there’s the same foundation of caring about the person and really empowering women to be leaders,” Shibles said. “I know she was passionate about the same things I was passionate about.”
According to Montgomery, this passion for players is characteristic of Shibles’ coaching style.
“[Shibles] loves basketball and loves to coach basketball, but she is so invested in the people she is working with,” Montgomery said. “I think she sees this as an opportunity to educate young women, of course about basketball, but having a perspective that there is actually a much bigger picture and her relationship with these young women is really what matters.”
As a coach, Shibles has broken records both at Bowdoin and at her previous school, Swarthmore. According to Shibles, the main reason for the success of her former players and the program itself is the type of player the Bowdoin women’s basketball program attracts.
“I think we search for people who embrace being pushed to be their best self as a leader, and we, with our program, have a shared leading model,” Shibles said. “So we stress that you’re going to have a voice right away as a first year—you’re going to have ownership of the program and you’re going to be pushed to really serve as a leader within this program and you’ll also be encouraged to do so on campus.”
Shannon Brady ’16, who now is an assistant coach at Colby, argues that part of the reason that Shibles is so successful as a coach is the trust that she builds with her players.
“I would go into battle with Coach Shibles any day because I know that she has my back and I have hers,” Brady said. “So it’s that mutual trust that she really instills that makes me want to make her proud so I think it’s a combination of being nurturing and demanding at the same time that has lead to a lot of her success, and I think winning is just a byproduct of that.”
Not only is Shibles inspiring on the court and in the locker room, but also in encouraging players to go into coaching, according to Jill Pace ’12, the women’s basketball head coach at Pomona-Pitzer.
“The way she influenced me as a player and a student-athlete at Bowdoin kind of made me want to give back to the coaching world and also the student-athletes that are now me at Pomona-Pitzer,” Pace said. “I always saw the way she impacted me and my teammates and so after graduation, I was like, why not do this same thing that can impact student athletes’ lives in such a positive way.”
According to Brady, Shibles also was extremely helpful during her job search.
“As soon as I let her know that I was interested in graduate positions and coaching positions, she immediately started looking around, contacting coach friends and looking at different opportunities for me,” Brady said. “So she was helpful right off the bat with that.”
According to Pace, Shibles’ impact is not limited to Bowdoin due to the number of players that have continued in her footsteps.
“I think Coach Shibles can look out and see that there’s a little piece of her, like now there’s a little piece of her out in Southern California, hundreds of miles away from the Northeast,” Pace said. “She’s always influencing people in all the little places where we are."
- November 18
The relegation zone: Is it time to clean house at the U.S. Men's National Team?
Dating back to World Cup qualifying matches in 2001, Columbus—Columbus, Ohio, of all places—has been the U.S. Men’s National Team’s (USMNT) fortress against archrivals Mexico, with four straight 2-0 wins against El Tri at Columbus Crew Stadium (now MAPFRE Stadium). So, when the USMNT learned that it would be playing Mexico in the first match of the Hexagonal, the final round of qualifying for World Cup 2018, it was only natural that it woul be in the state of Ohio.
Before the match last Friday, the banner unfurled by the American Outlaws, the team’s rowdy supporters group, paid homage to old and new, with the likeness of 18-year old wunderkind Christian Pulisic, stylized as the demon haunting Mexican fortunes, holding up two fingers on one hand and a big zero on the other—that famous Dos a Cero scoreline—over the tagline “Nightmares are Real.”
All good things come to an end though, as the US capitulated to the visiting Mexican side early, then again in the match’s dying minutes, after clawing back to make it one-all. The traveling Mexican support sang out “Dos a Uno, Dos a Uno” as the match ended, casting off 15 years of nightmares and history in Columbus. The 2-1 loss represented not just the end of Fortress Columbus, but also the team’s first World Cup qualifying loss to Mexico on US soil in over 40 years.
If a crushing 2-1 loss to the team’s most bitter rival wasn’t enough agony for one week, the USMNT then traveled to Costa Rica for the second match in the Hex on Tuesday night and were run off the pitch by a rampant Costa Rican side. Johan Venegas’ headed goal a minute from halftime broke the Yanks’ spirits and opened the floodgates for three more goals in the second half and a 4-0 thrashing.
Opening the Hex with two straight losses has left the USMNT adrift at the bottom of the qualifying group and desperately searching for answers. While losses to two of the region’s strongest sides is nothing to be ashamed of on paper, more alarming is how the squad looked without direction for long periods of those matches. The team has seemed generally rudderless for sometime now. Against this backdrop, it’s time for the Jurgen Klinsmann experiment to end as USMNT manager.
Klinsmann has no doubt brought the USMNT great success. His recruiting and scouting efforts have helped to restock the squad’s cabinet with talented youngsters like John Brooks, Lynden Gooch and the aforementioned Pulisic, and the team’s great escape from the “Group of Death” at the 2014 World Cup remains stuff of legend, overexaggerated as that squad’s performance may be. Despite that, Klinsmann has clearly lost the script with the team and it’s doubtful if he will find it again.
One of the selling points of Klinsmann has always been his ability as a motivator and man-manager. It’s those efforts of giving youth a chance and teasing out the best in players that inspires willingness in some players to charge through a brick wall for Klinsmann. The team’s matches in the last year or so have demonstrated that he no longer inspires that confidence in his players though, and if a motivator can no longer motivate, what good is he leading the USMNT?
This rift was on full display in Columbus last Friday, as Klinsmann made the puzzling decision to start the match in a 3-5-2 formation, playing an unfamiliar formation with three at the back against an incisive Mexican attack, leading to Mexican domination and an early goal. As a result, US captain Michael Bradley and ageless warrior Jermaine Jones, the two most vocal leaders in the field at the time, argued openly with Klinsmann about tactics during a stoppage. While the team reverted back into a familiar 4-4-2 formation after the confrontation, the damage was done and the rift between manager and players evident.
Perhaps more damning was the way that the US capitulated against Costa Rica after the half, going into the break just down a goal. The Yanks came out of the break looking listless and without desire in a vital match, showing just how little confidence Klinsmann inspires in his men.
Even the world’s best managers have a shelf life and it looks like Jurgen has reached his with the USMNT. His constant refusal to accept responsibility for puzzling tactical decisions and lackluster on field performance date well beyond the most recent losses (the Gold Cup debacle against Jamaica and CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico, both last year, come to mind). The USMNT doesn’t have another qualifier for nearly 4 months, a match against Honduras that is now a must-win. If he has truly lost the locker room, as it seems, the time is now to make a change and part ways with Jurgen Klinsmann.
- November 18
Harvard soccer incident sparks campus discussion
After the recent discovery of the 2012 Harvard men’s soccer team’s sexually explicit “scouting report,” which rated Harvard women’s soccer recruits on their physical appearance, several Bowdoin student groups planned a discussion about “locker room talk.” Held on Wednesday night in Ladd House, the talk brought together students and faculty in an effort to reflect on the presence and norms of crude and sexually explicit language on campus.
After reading news about the report, Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence (BMASV), the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Bowdoin Women’s Resource Center (WRC) decided to address the kind of inappropriate speech found in the “scouting report” from a Bowdoin perspective.
“We hope to talk about how we don’t feel that there is a place for that at Bowdoin,” said Michael Eppler ’17, a varsity soccer player and member of the SAAC who helped to coordinate the talk. “[And moreover] to discuss where we’re at with our norms for not just sports teams [but] for just everyone in terms of language when it comes to talking about some of these topics.”
Attended by mainly male and female athletes, the event’s discussion focused in part on the expectations of being a male athlete and the effectiveness of BMASV’s facilitations.
“People [at the event seemed] to be interested in actually creating change and doing something about it rather than just creating spaces for dialogue, which is also important but is not going to solve all of the world’s problems by itself,” said Dana Bloch ’17, a member of the sailing team who attended the event.
Killian Dickson ’20, a member of the crew and swim teams, was impressed by the number of male athletes who attended, as he believes that “the problem stems” from this demographic.
Other students expanded upon this idea, discussing the stereotypes and expectations about sex and hypermasculinity surrounding male athletes, which often perpetuate ill treatment of women, especially when “locker room talk” is not treated as a serious issue.
Several students praised BMASV, which meets with all varsity men’s sport teams at the beginning of their seasons to combat these expectations. Others, both men and women, took issue with BMASV’s facilitations and questioned the group’s efficacy since talking about sex and physical attractiveness in crude terms is still a problem at Bowdoin.
Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan echoed Bloch’s perspective on proactiveness.
“It was beneficial to be able to hear perspectives from students about ways that we could be doing things differently to address these issues on our campus,“ he said.
“Maybe in the future they [will] change BMASV training so that it caters to everybody and [so] that everybody feels like they’re getting something out of it, because it seemed like there were some dissenting views on that,” said Rebkah Tesfamariam ’18, who works for the WRC and organized and moderated the discussion along with Eppler.
“I have no idea about what BMASV does with those facilitations [but] now it’s making me consider what my role is as a student director and how I can better appeal to women on campus,” added Tesfamariam.
After the talk, Eppler noted that the discussion centered on athletics and was dominated by voices from inside of the locker room, though at the beginning of the talk he and Tesfamariam clarified that this language may be found anywhere.
“Our overarching goal for this program was to be sort of more … inclusive in terms of the whole community,” said Eppler. “Moving forward I would like to see, sort of, more programming bringing together more parts of campus on this topic.”
- November 18
Men's basketball embarks on 75th season, Gilbride thinks back on 32 years as coach
The Bowdoin men’s basketball team begins its 75th season today against Southern Vermont. For the 32nd year, the team is led by Head Coach Tim Gilbride. During his tenure, the program has improved considerably. The combined winning percentage of all coaches before him was .378; under Gilbride the Polar Bears boast a winning percentage of .593. The Polar bears have also qualified for the NESCAC playoffs for the last 15 years.
According to Gilbride, much about the program, as well as sports culture in America, has changed during his time at Bowdoin.
“I think what has changed the most is you used to get more two-sport athletes. It is not necessarily that Bowdoin has changed; it’s more that kids now specialize much earlier,” said Gilbride. “You know if they have done that, they are fully invested in your particular sport which is nice, but I also thought it was beneficial to get people that competed in different sports. Maybe they were the star in one sport and they weren’t quite as good in another sport so they learned how to interact in all those roles.”
Gilbride claims one thing that has not changed for him is his admiration for his players, not just as athletes, but as students and young men. The pleasure he draws from working with Bowdoin students is what keeps bringing him back year after year.
“They love basketball,” said Gilbride. “They are committed to playing but they have tons of other interests. They are really inquisitive and want to learn a lot of things. They have so much going for them; the fact that they are so passionate about basketball I find exciting and interesting as a coach.”
The team graduated some of its key members last year. It lost Lucas Hausman ’16, 2015 NESCAC Player of the Year and a First Team NABC All-American, as well as Matt Palecki ’16, the team’s leader in rebounds last year.
Much of the team’s success this year hinges on the performances of underclassmen. 2016 NESCAC Rookie of the Year Jack Simonds ’19 is poised to have an even more impactful sophomore performance. Gilbride hopes that Hugh O’Neill ’19 and David Reynolds ’20 will be able to make a significant impact as well.
As the season begins, the team has been focusing on playing smart team defense, as well as improving their lateral quickness, according to Gilbride. Since NESCAC teams do not start practices until November 1, a full two weeks behind the rest of NCAA Division III, the Polar Bears are at a disadvantage this weekend against non-conference opponents Southern Vermont and University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Still, under the leadership of captains Neil Fuller ’17 and Jack Hewitt ’17, the team is ready for the challenge.
“We are just looking to go in there and play the kind of ball that we have to play to succeed,” said Hewitt. “We can be a very good team that people might be sleeping on. If we keep working hard, we could be one of the best teams in the NESCAC.”