Re-evaluating the social houses
As the social house system enters a phase that seems something like dormancy,
it becomes all the more important to think about what the system is and
what it should be, as the Inter-House Council and house leaders plan to
The pervasiveness of the social house system is one of those myths of
Bowdoin College life. Prospective students read in the Viewbook that Bowdoin's
residential life "centers around" the house system. Many students,
consequently, expect great things of the house system-they want it, perhaps,
to foster a vibrance in the campus that just may not exist here.
Current and past house residents deserve a great deal of credit for trying
to put together a meaningful system for a campus that is not particularly
receptive to their efforts. That much of the campus doesn't bother with
the social houses is not a slam on either house leaders or on disinterested
non-affiliates. The system, as it is, seems to work consistently only
to satisfy the small number of people who live in the houses. And this
is not necessarily a bad thing: if the majority of the campus does not
have an interest in taking part in the houses, the system does not have
to be called a failure for it.
Success, however, can hardly be defined as having as much as 70 percent
of non-house members living in a house. It is also probably true that
the successes of the system (it has its merits, and some well-attended
events) do not correlate with the vast resources and effort put into it.
The system might die altogether in a few years, perhaps owing to the
fact that it doesn't work for college administrators or a mission statement
to engineer students' social lives. If students are happy with whatever
alternative, then its death would be no real tragedy. The system might
also enjoy a quieter success (such as it has already) without it being
the publicized, "centralized" thing that some people want it
to be in theory.
On the one hand, it is extremely important that the house system be reevaluated, and that this reevaluation be taken seriously by trustees and administrators. So much effort and so many resources go into the houses that it is a shame to see them so dead. On the other hand, it might not matter all that much, since for many Bowdoin students, the houses hardly exist in the first place.-NJL
Abercrombie & Moron
Abercrombie and Fitch pulled T-shirts from its stores last week, due
largely to the protests of students at Stanford University. In question
was the artwork of a particular T-shirt, which depicted two Asian men
dressed in a grotesquely stereotypical fashion. The slogan of the shirt
read "Wong Brothers Laundry Service: Two Wongs Can Make It White."
The infuriating aspect of Abercrombie and Fitch's lack of consideration for an ethnic group is only rivaled by its overwhelming lack of common sense. It is frightening to think that the company expected American college students-its target consumer group-to pay for this attire. We as college students are privy to an elite world of mental exercise and activism, and this was exemplified by the immediate and effective reactions of Stanford students.
Abercrombie and Fitch's production of these shirts suggests that its level of intelligence is dwarfed by the mental capacity and sensibility of its target audience. -DJM