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Covid-era rules usher in a new way of life on campus

September 4, 2020

Students living on campus have agreed to follow the rules outlined in the seven-page Residential Community Agreement, a guide for student life, quarantine protocols and overall health policies.

Rules outlined in the Residential Community Agreement governing the conduct of students living on campus are stringent. In the weeks after arriving, students will rarely see their newfound friends’ faces unobstructed by a mask and are only allowed to attend social gatherings with their “core-groups.” For first years and transfer students, core groups are defined as those they share a proctor with. For upperclassmen, their core group is defined as their direct suitemates.

While sympathetic to the strains this will put on students’ social lives, Dean for Student Affairs Janet Lohmann stressed that strict measures are necessary to ensure the health and safety of students and faculty, as well as that of Brunswick residents.

“There is no doubt that limiting how one socializes with friends will create a host of challenges… However, we feel we need to take these precautions to keep our community safe,” Lohmann wrote in an email to the Orient.

“We believe all Bowdoin students who will be here—those on campus as well as those living in town—are fully prepared to honor these expectations to mitigate the spread of the virus and to help us protect the health and safety of the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities,” she added.

For Emily Simons ’24, following the agreement’s rules is part of what it means to be a Bowdoin student.

“I see the Residential Community Agreement as a manifestation of Bowdoin’s commitment to the common good. Most of all, I was impressed by how thoroughly Bowdoin has thought through their on-campus policies, and that has continued to be the case since arriving in Brunswick,” Simons said in a phone interview with the Orient.

A first-year student was asked to leave campus for repeatedly ignoring quarantine guidelines, just one day after students officially moved onto campus, according to multiple on-campus sources.

“The rules are in place to protect the health and safety of our community and our neighbors. Serious violations of these rules can result in a student having to leave campus,” said Scott Hood, senior vice president for communications and public affairs, in an email to the Orient. Hood could not comment on the student’s dismissal because the College does not comment on specific disciplinary cases

While the College expects students to strictly follow all of the rules outlined in the agreement, minor violations will be handled through one-on-one conversations between students and a representative from Peer Health, Health Services or the Office of Residential Life (ResLife). Major violations or a pattern of minor violations, however, will be handled by the Judicial Board, and students will face disciplinary action.

In an email to the Orient, Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi confirmed that ResLife and the Office of Safety and Security could be involved in enforcing the guidelines of the Residential Community Agreement but stressed that this will be a last resort.

Regarding concerns that students would avoid seeking out resources meant to help them in a scenario where they had committed a minor infraction, such as experiencing something harmful or violating while at an unsanctioned social gathering, Odejimi emphasized that she believed students would be able to see the bigger picture.

“We trust our students. It is not unusual for students to commit a serious violation of our academic and social code—we have seen it many times. Whether we are in a pandemic or not, our students reach out to college officials, including Safety and Security, when they are in need. We do not expect this to change as Bowdoin students are smart and recognize the importance in prioritizing the safety of themselves and others,” she added.

Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity and Director of Title IX Benje Douglas echoed this sentiment, saying that students who may have broken a rule in the Residential Community Agreement should not feel dissuaded from coming to talk to him.

“I don’t want a person to think, because they may have violated the residential agreement or social code, that they should not come talk to me because they’re somehow going to get in trouble,” he said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “That is what I would say would be the absolute worst outcome.”

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