Panel tackles College diversity
Five panelists representing Student Affairs, Academic Affairs,
and Admissions sat at a long table in Lancaster Lounge on Wednesday night.
They were diverse in their occupations and perspectives, yet they were
assembled to tackle diversity on a much larger-and fascinatingly elusive-scale.
They were there to answer the question "Is Bowdoin Diverse?"
Sponsored by the Korean American Students Association (KASA)
and the African American Society, the recent forum on diversity sought
to provoke discussion among students, faculty, and Administration on academic,
ethnic, socioeconomic, and regional diversity. And provoke discussion
it did-a healthy two hours' worth.
The panel was moderated by Sean Calloway, currently the
Director of College Placement at the Center for Urban Education, at Pace
University. The panelists included Dean of Academic Affairs Craig McEwen,
Dean of Admissions Jim Miller, Dean of First-Year Students Margaret Hazlett,
Coordinator of Multicultural Student Programs Wil Smith, and Director,
Student of Color Recruitment, Fumio Sugihara. They addressed a body of
over 60 students. Calloway's persistent questioning served as a catalyst
Dean Miller addressed diversity in the admissions process,
stressing that Bowdoin takes a "holistic" approach to the admissions
process. The goal of that process, according to Miller, is to create "the
most productive student body representative of America."
Within that framework, equal opportunity is paramount. As
a corollary to this, Miller added, "Every student should come through
the front door," emphasizing that socioeconomic background should
have a minimal, if any, role in the process. Sugihara outlined some of
the programs he works on to recruit students of color to Bowdoin, including
his close cooperation with Bob Graves in Residential Life and Jeff Ward
While there was much discussion about diversity as part
of admissions, it also touched upon the role of diversity once students
were enrolled at Bowdoin. Dean McEwen and Dean Hazlett both remarked that
while the College has recognized that diversity issues must be addressed,
it is still unsure as to how to proceed. Hazlett envisions an approach
that is proactive rather than reactive.
Calloway reminded the panelists and audience that much of
what will transpire depends on institutional research that will identify
the specific areas related to diversity that need attention.
Wil Smith, recognizing that there is much to praise in Bowdoin's
road to diversity, cited the changes he has seen in just the past few
years. "Diversity is the direction in which this school wants to
go," Smith said, underscoring the need for equal opportunity across
the board in order to realize a more diverse Bowdoin. He was especially
enthusiastic about the amount of student discussion he has heard about
Two hours of discussion represent merely the tip of a very
large iceberg. Pushed by programs initiated by Admissions, Academic Affairs,
and Student Affairs, diversity as a matter of discourse on the Bowdoin
campus stands only to grow stronger in the months and years to come.