Swimmers thwart vagrants
Bowdoin Security dispatcher Lester Wood received a call at 8:42 p.m. on Saturday, November 9 from a student in the Outing Club cabin in Monson, Maine informing Security that she and her swim teammates were feeling threatened by people lurking outside. Because the cabin was four and a half hours away from Bowdoin, Wood told her to immediately call 911.
A group of 20 girls from the swim team had gone to the Outing Club cabin as part of a team bonding retreat. Alison Benton '03, one of the team captains, related the what happened when they arrived at the cabin, "These guys came down from the cabins and offered to help us with our stuff but then started drinking beer." The three men were employees of the Middlesex Movers Company from outside of Boston and were between the ages of 25 and 45 years. After leaving for a short time, the men "came back with a thirty pack of beer." Benton and Alicia Smith '04, another team, both reported that "one of them was obviously drunk."
"Everyone was uncomfortable" said Smith, "and they hadn't asked to be let in but just sort of walked into the cabin." Eventually, Benton asked the men to leave, but the team "kept hearing noises outside." When one of the teammates went out to relieve herself and then returned to the cabin, "there was a guy crouching beneath one of the windows with a beer in his hand" said Benton. The teammate was greatly disturbed and as the man ran off away from the cabin, she bolted into the front door. Because, according to Benton, "the front door can't be locked from the inside," the team blockaded the door as best they could, locked the back door, and covered all the windows.
Benton described how the men continued to taunt them, "[we] continued to hear their voices for another half an hour." One of the girls on the team had a cell phone, and after calling security, she called the police. When the state police officer arrived at 10:19 p.m., he reprimanded the men. However, Smith was "appalled that the police officer did not act more aggressively" towards three men who had been harassing a group of girls out in the middle of the woods. The officer then "escorted us down the hill back to the vans and we left that night instead of staying overnight."
"No one had been harmed," commented Benton "the guys had just been really creepy." She went on to say that the whole experience really "brought out for us the fact that if one older guy had been there with us, it probably would not have happened. It's so easy for guys to take advantage of the situation-a group of secluded girls."
The fact that the police did not take more severe action against the men was also disturbing for the members of the girl's swim team. Under Maine State law, harassment is defined as "Three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, physical force or the threat of physical force directed against any person intimidation or damage to property and that do in fact cause fear" or "three or more acts that are made with the intent to deter the free exercise or enjoyment of any rights or privileges secured by the Constitution of Maine or the United States Constitution." The girls on the swim team felt that their experience met these definitions, and they were upset by the fact that the police officer's attitude towards the whole situation was that "it was just a few guys being bothersome," said Smith.
The swim team arrived safely back at Bowdoin College, but Benton commented that few of the girls will want to return to the scene of such an unsettling experience. Josh Rudner '03, president of the Outing Club, commented that the Outing Club is "still in the process of getting more information" and will not officially respond to the incident until next week.