Recent campus debate signals a more active Bowdoin
The idea of the "Bowdoin Bubble" has long been pervasive on campus. It is difficult to avoid encountering the phrase regularly. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of truth to claims that many students are apathetic when it comes to politics. The Bowdoin Coalition Against the War in Iraq (BCAWI) deserves a great deal of credit for changing the campus political landscape.
This dedicated group of students collected over 900 signatures in support of an anti-war resolution they presented to the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG). While the resolution failed to pass at the first meeting at which it was presented, it passed during the week preceding spring break.
No matter what one's personal views are, it is clear that this grassroots campaign was unusual. Never known for being a hotbed of political activism, Bowdoin has justly developed a reputation as a place where the majority of students care little about the world outside their cozy little cocoon in the safe confines of Brunswick.
The fact that a fairly small, vocal group of students were committed enough to start a petition is astounding. The fact that they convinced over half of the student body to sign the petition is downright revolutionary.
An appalling number of students do not bother to vote in either campus student government elections, let alone state or federal elections; therefore, the fact that so many students chose to sign this petition gives hope for the student body.
Perhaps Bowdoin will become the new Wesleyan, an activist utopia where students passionately argue about politics in the dining hall and regularly protest the social injustices in the world. While this scenario may seem absurd, it is much more realistic now than it would have been years ago.
The simple act of setting up a table in Smith Union and collecting signatures stimulated an impressive amount of debate and left students actually discussing the war in the dining hall and in their dorms.
For once, many students seemed to actually care about something other than their grades or getting wasted on the weekend. A year ago, I had difficulty finding anyone who cared enough to discuss a possible war in Iraq. Several weeks ago, it was difficult to go anywhere and not hear about Iraq.
Students on both sides of this issue should appreciate what the BCAWI has done for campus life. In response to the anti-war movement, those in support of the war decided to take action of their own, setting up an information table in Smith Union and putting up signs highlighting Iraqi human rights violations.
While I disagree with their position, I applaud these students for taking the time to voice their opinions. Those who support the war should feel the same way about the BCAWI. The anti-war coalition has done the student body as a whole a great service by stimulating a great deal of debate on campus.
Conservatives and liberals alike can rejoice in the fact that intelligent political discussion has become more common than ever. Surely even those opposed to the petition believe that campus life is more lively and interesting when debate is occurring, even if they disapprove of the prevailing opinions.
A campus where arguments are exchanged is infinitely more interesting than a vapid one where everyone agrees. As author Joseph Jouberth eloquently put it, "It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it."
After all, is not the goal of a liberal arts education to develop intelligent,
coherent arguments? This ability is the very heart of a liberal arts education.
Hopefully the anti-war movement has started Bowdoin down a long road of
discussion on a variety of issues.