The Bowdoin Orient

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6 days ago

BCA calls for Trustee liaison by March 6

The speech on climate at the Meeting in the Union last Friday closed with Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) calling on the Board of Trustees to appoint a liaison to the student body on the matter of fossil fuel divestment before March 6.

BCA member Allyson Gross ’16, wrote the speech, the majority of which was published in the February 6 issue of the Orient.

BCA met with the Board in October to present its case to divest its endowment from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. Gross said that BCA has not heard from the Trustees since. 

“On the date of Meeting in the Union, it had been 119 days of silence from the Board of Trustees,” she said. “When we asked for follow-up steps from them, we were cut off.”

The speech given at the meeting last Friday indicated that, if a liaison were not appointed by March 6, BCA would escalate protest efforts. Gross declined to comment on the shape that escalation would take. 

Gross had an active role in the organization of both the Meeting in the Union and the writing of an open letter to the Bowdoin community, published in the Orient on February 13. Both Gross and Michelle Kruk ’16 said that they were happy with the way that the Meeting went.

“I love how things went,” said Kruk. “It was such a relief…to get that out there.”

The two also said that they were excited by the large number of students who walked from the Union to President Barry Mills’ office in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library to deliver the letter. Although Mills was not in his office, Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd accepted the letter on his behalf. Judd said that she has since delivered the letter to Mills.

Kruk said that while the majority of the feedback to the letter has been positive, there has been a bit of a backlash.

“It was that it shortcuts some of the [advances] that certain parts of campus have done,” she said.

“So many people are working hard to make this campus a better place, and I just wouldn’t want people to read the call to action and feel discouraged, as if their work is being discredited,” wrote Jared Littlejohn ’15 in an email to the Orient. 

Littlejohn said that the Office of Residential Life has held multiple conversations and training sessions on race. The letter suggested that only one such training session took place.

Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster echoed Littlejohn’s statement.

“It’s hard for students to see how far Bowdoin has come in such a short period of time,” Foster wrote in an email to the Orient. “They don’t have the same historical perspective.”

Foster went on to add that there are reforms already underway in many of the areas that the letter mentions.

“The creation of the new [Student Center for Multicultural Life], the hiring of a new director, the coming together of the Multicultural Coalition, the initiation of Intergroup Dialogue, the gatherings of first generation students, faculty and staff and so on,” he said.

Kruk and Gross said that they have not seen any official response to either the letter or the Meeting, although several administrators and faculty members have offered their support.

Today, the group that organized the Meeting and the letter will meet to both discuss last Friday’s events and plan for next steps. 

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