In an email to the College on Thursday afternoon, President Clayton Rose detailed a string of bias incidents that occurred over the last week. While four bias incidents were reported in the past week alone, it is anyone’s guess as to how many others remain unreported.
Rose outlined the steps the College is taking to address these incidents, including contacting outside law enforcement agencies. However, one paragraph in particular distracted from the message of his email: in it, Rose states that alcohol “may have played a role” in these bias incidents and that “the abuse of alcohol during Ivies” itself is a growing concern to both the administration and the faculty. He concludes this paragraph by raising the possibility of a change to the “current model” of Ivies weekend.
While many students read President Rose’s email and understood the severity of the situation, that particular paragraph may have left some more concerned with the possibility that their Ivies Weekend might be taken away. At Bowdoin, there are students who are affected by these bias incidents, and others who have the luxury of not worrying.
We commend the support that the administration has offered to students affected by these incidents, but we believe that an administrative response alone is not sufficient to address the situation. The college community as a whole must work to combat racism, Islamophobia and other forms of bias on our campus.
Right now, we must be there for our friends. We must create spaces with empathetic ears for students affected by the recent incidents. Emotional healing must take priority over institutional bureaucratic change. We should focus on extending direct support to our affected peers and those who are most vulnerable to these incidents. This college no longer feels like home for them.
So what happens next? How can we make sure that these things don’t happen again?
Students can and should take small steps on an individual level. Such actions have the potential to support those affected by bias incidents. Lead by example and call out problematic behavior when you see it, whether it affects you or not. Even the smallest action can have an impact.
Improving the Exploring Social Differences requirement, adding mandatory workshops and refining diversity-related programming during first-year orientation, while valiant efforts, will never adequately combat closely-held racism or intolerance. We have noticed that many of the College’s programs targeting diversity and inclusion are opt-in and, as a result, those who show up are typically little more than a choir to be preached to. Having a safe place to live and learn should not be an opt-in part of campus life. It is a requirement.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Emily Cohen, Roither Gonzales, George Grimbilas, Rohini Kurup, Calder McHugh, Jessica Piper, Dani Quezada, Reuben Schafir and Jaret Skonieczny.