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Survey shows majority of students believe the College is handling COVID-19 well

December 4, 2020

The overwhelming majority, 81 percent, of survey participants believe the College is handling COVID-19 well or very well, with 19 percent believing the College is handling the pandemic poorly or very poorly. This is only a slight decrease from the 85 percent of participants who thought the College was handling COVID-19 well or very well last semester.

On November 23, the Orient sent the biannual Bowdoin Orient Student Survey to all 2,075 students. Of the entire student body, 479 students responded, reflecting 23 percent of the student body.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, nearly all courses this semester were remote, with the only exceptions being first-year seminars. The majority of the students who participated in the survey, 67 percent, were satisfied with their fall 2020 classes, and 71 percent were satisfied with their Internet connection. Students were least satisfied with the fall 2020 time block schedule.

This semester, only first-year students, Residential Life staff, transfer students, students with “home situations that make online learning nearly impossible” and senior students who are working on honors projects that require access to physical spaces on campus were invited to reside on campus. Of the survey participants, 31 percent resided on campus for the majority of the semester, nine percent resided off campus in Brunswick, 20 percent lived in Maine but not in Brunswick and 40 percent did not reside in Maine. The majority, 60 percent of participants, said they could be productive in their living situation.

Students living on campus were tested for COVID-19 twice a week through the campus’s testing program. Of the survey participants who lived on campus, 95 percent of those students were extremely satisfied or satisfied with the College’s fall COVID-19 testing program.


In an announcement to the community on October 15, President Clayton Rose announced that sophomore, junior and senior students, as well as first-year students whose homes are not conducive to learning, may reside on campus during the spring semester. Survey participants generally approved of the College’s spring 2021 plan, with 61 percent approving or strongly approving. However, only 25 percent of the Class of 2024, the one full class not invited back to campus, approved of the plan.

The vast majority of the survey participants—90 percent—will enroll next semester.

Seniors living off campus can choose to be “in-residence,” meaning they will be a part of the College’s testing program and will have access to on-campus resources such as the dining hall. Seniors survey participants who planned to enroll in the spring 2021 semester overwhelmingly—78 percent—plan to live on campus.

Overall, survey participants approved of the College’s Spring 2021 COVID-19 testing plan, with only six percent of the participants dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied.

The College will offer some in-person courses in the spring. However, most courses will be taught online, with some offering in-person components. A slight majority, 57 percent, of the survey participants, were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the 2021 course offerings.

The College also plans to shorten spring break from the typical two weeks to four days; 63 percent of students in the survey disapproved or strongly disapproved of this change.


In a change from previous Bowdoin Orient Student Surveys, The Orient added a “neutral” column when asking about respondents’ approval and disapproval of departments and individuals on campus in an attempt to more accurately reflect the views of the student body. The Orient could not compare these results with approval ratings from previous semesters because of this change.

The faculty received the highest approval rating, with 91 percent of survey participants approving or strongly approving of the faculty. In second place was Dining Services, with 82 percent approval.

The Brunswick Police Department had the lowest approval rating, with 38 percent of survey participants disapproving or strongly disapproving.

Opinion on President Clayton Rose was split: 30 percent of the student body disapproved or strongly disapproved of him, 32 percent were neutral and 38 percent approved or strongly approved.

The percentage of students who reported being happy this semester increased slightly from 60 percent of students to 61 percent of students. However, the number of students who reported being happy steadily decreased by class year—first years were the happiest and seniors were the least happy.

The majority of students, 66 percent, “give a damn” and 61 percent of students think the world will be better in 25 years.


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  1. Class of 2021 says:

    Creating an incentive to come back to campus during a global pandemic by making a number of classes, including ones seniors need to graduate, in person only….disgusting work, Bowdoin. Never seen a plan that so blatantly disregards the common good.

    • another '2021 says:

      Totally agree. Additionally, It’s very sad to see the college making immunocompromised students’ life even harder. I will remember the names of professors who decided to offer in person class to abandon immunocompromised students.

  2. Steven '22 says:

    Poor class of 24 in the “Are you satisfied with the College’s spring 2021 plan?” question. Well, at least it seems they are happy (relatively).

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