Fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” have much to look forward to this month—Patrick Dempsey H’13, an actor, activist and philanthropist who frequently speaks about his struggles with dyslexia, will be visiting campus on November 14 as the keynote speaker for the annual No Hate November month.
No Hate November, organized by the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), is an initiative designed to incite conversations about identity and inclusivity on campus. It was created in response to a bias incident that occurred in the fall of 2013.
Traditionally, programming has revolved around discussions of race and class and occasionally sexuality and gender, according to BSG President Ural Mishra ’20. This year, however, BSG is aiming to diversify the spectrum of conversations by bringing light to issues that often are not typically highlighted in the month’s programming.
Dempsey, a Maine native who received an honorary degree from Bowdoin in 2013, is primarily known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd in “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dyslexia and the challenges of growing up with a learning disability will be the central focus of Dempsey’s lecture.
BSG Chair of Diversity & Inclusion, Marcus Williams ’21, led the effort to bring Dempsey to campus.
“I think what he’ll really be able to do is bring a crowd that you probably wouldn’t see in No Hate November … and force them to think about some things that maybe don’t cross their minds as much,” said Williams.
The event will be followed by a reception where students will have the chance to meet Dempsey. However, if space fills up, priority will be given to those who attend an Indigenous people’s land recognition discussion happening earlier the same day.
According to Williams, the decision to include priority entrance is based on his observation that the keynote speaker often receives the most recognition at the expense of other programming happening on campus.
“I’m just using it to filter out people who aren’t there for the right reasons,” Williams said.
The discussion, advertised as “Land and Waters Around Us: A Discussion on Indigenous Lands and Acknowledgements,” is one of a series of events being held as part of Native American Heritage Month (also in November) to increase the visibility of Indigenous groups on campus.
“At least in my time, there hasn’t been a whole lot of discussion about Indigenous groups and populations,” said Mishra.
Williams and Mishra both noted that much of this year’s No Hate November will be centered around supporting other groups on campus, particularly affinity groups, in their programming. Both pointed out the dangers of over-programming, emphasizing BSG’s goal to not oversaturate an already hectic and often overwhelming campus calendar.
“We don’t want to step on the toes of any other groups that are doing things, and if they are doing things, we’re reaching out and asking what we can do to support them,” Mishra said.
“I’m a big fan of delegation … because you can’t do everything yourself,” Williams added. “I think the best programming comes from people that have their heart based in it.”
Williams explained that this year’s No Hate November is ultimately aimed at bringing together parts of the Bowdoin community that do not often interact and inspiring students to take action to improve inclusivity on campus.
“BSG is really hoping to get people to take the first step in engaging in different conversations and just pushing themselves to go in different spaces,” said Williams.