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Campus gathering prompts investigation and raises concerns about student behavior

September 11, 2020

Mackey O'Keefe
FARLEY FIELD HOUSE: Multiple gatherings took place on the Farley Field's last Friday evening.

During their first full weekend on campus, many first years and their Residential Life (ResLife) advisors found ways to connect and build community that complied with the College’s Residential Community Agreement. However, in an email to the campus community on Sunday, Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs Janet Lohmann explained that some students had engaged in behavior that violated current College protocols.

“We learned last night about a Friday [September 4] evening gathering on the fields adjacent to Farley Field House where students compromised the College’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols,” Lohmann wrote.

In her message, Lohmann announced the launch of an investigation into the event.

“Until we have confidence that on-campus students are complying with health and safety protocols, we will remain in status level orange,” she wrote.

On Wednesday, Mike Ranen, associate dean of student affairs and director of residential and student life, sent an email to all students and employees providing an update on the investigation. He explained that several groups of students acting in accordance with the College’s guidelines had gathered on the fields adjacent to Farley throughout the evening on September 4 to eat dinner, socialize at a distance and participate in proctor-sponsored stargazing.

“Unfortunately, while that was going on, a separate group of students was also together on the fields, and a small number engaged in behavior that put the health and safety of the Bowdoin community at risk,” he wrote. “The dean’s office has followed up with these students accordingly.” Ranen also explained that it is College policy to not discuss matters of student conduct publicly and that he will not disclose further details about the case.

To minimize the risk of this kind of inappropriate gathering occurring in the future, Ranen announced that all College playing fields will now close at sundown.

ResLife members were among the first to hear about these infractions, and some had witnessed student movement towards Farley on the night of the gathering.

“So we obviously noticed that an event was going on at Farley, and hordes of people [were] kind of going over to the field house,” said head proctor Laila McCain ’21 in a Zoom interview with the Orient.“We’re not security officers. We’re also not police officers. And so we remind and recommend to people, ‘Hey, don’t do these things.’”

“You could say that we’re enforcing rules. But sometimes enforcement means compliance as well. But a lot of the students don’t comply or listen to us,” she added.

Mishal Kazmi ’21, an international student who is living on campus this semester, took to social media to encourage students to write letters to the College’s administration asking for more transparency and raising concerns over violations of the Residential Community Agreement. In a video interview with the Orient, she pointed to the difference in circumstances between many first-year students—who all had the opportunity to come to campus for the fall—and upperclassmen, who were given on-campus housing because of specific needs and difficulties.

“All of my friends that I know who are on campus have very high stakes for being here—it’s a necessity for a lot of people, and for some first years, it’s not,” explained Kazmi. “In the event that we do get kicked off campus, it’d be all of us, right? So then for low-income people or people who have to be on campus, those circumstances that they wanted to be on campus for aren’t just going to disappear.”

Kazmi also expressed surprise that incidents like the gathering on the fields adjacent to Farley had already occurred, and she urged students to behave mindfully in the future.

“Just be cautious—this is serious, the repercussions are serious, the consequences that all of us will face if this gets out of hand will be serious,” she said. “I think people just need to practice compassion and know that there are other people here who don’t have anywhere else to go.”

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