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Brick by brick, class by class

September 3, 2021

This piece represents the opinion of the Bowdoin Orient Editorial Board.

For the first time since March of 2020, four class years are learning and living all together on Bowdoin’s campus. The paths of the quad are filled with more people now than at any other point in the past year and a half. You may not recognize the people you see in line in Thorne and the social scene may be different than you remember—or entirely new.

Rather than gradually growing into our roles on campus, as previous generations of college students have done, all four classes find themselves suddenly thrust into unfamiliar territories. The relentless tumult of COVID-19 has reshaped our institutional memory, forcing us all to embark upon this year with amplified intention.

To the class of 2022—many of you may feel less like seniors and more like stunted sophomores. Perhaps you relate to the spaces around us from the perspective of a student who has just found their stride at Bowdoin. Despite your seniority, you are surrounded by unfamiliar faces, new novel customs and notable absences such as your mailboxes and your favorite dining hall card swiper, Irene.

To the class of 2023—when you were sent home in spring of 2020, you were still a first year finding your way around campus and settling in. Now you’re back as a junior with more wisdom and experience but perhaps lacking the confidence to fully leverage it. Be the junior you looked up to your first year—you have the power to be a guiding force on campus.

To the class of 2024—after a disjointed first year with little opportunity to meet students outside your year and connect with upperclass students in person, you’re occupying many spaces on campus with deserved assurance. You have been resilient over the last year. Kudos to you and keep it up. Do not be afraid to ask questions and make connections—your opportunity hasn’t passed.

To the class of 2025—in many ways, the beginning of your college experience was normal for Bowdoin. Your parents moved you in, you went on orientation trips, you have decorated the walls inside your brick with your roommate and gotten lost on your way to four in-person classes. However, your first-year experience is distinct from that of the classes before you. You are arriving at a place with a bank of knowledge, traditions and lessons that are at risk of becoming an unfortunate casualty of Bowdoin’s recent transformations.

Like all communities rebuilding after hardship, all four classes are obliged to build Bowdoin back into the community it was while shaping it into a better version of itself. Although it is tempting to forget our difficult learning moments, it is of course all the more important to retain the lessons we learned from them in our growth.

This collection of classes has a unique ability to collaborate across generations and cement the traditions we collectively value and bury those we do not—we must not let this opportunity go unseized. Channeling the sentiments of this Board in the final editorial of Orient Volume 150, we must take a critical approach in our quest to reestablish Bowdoin’s culture. In the penultimate paragraph of that editorial, its authors asked, “even if we cannot find something good in all the loss we have experienced, how can we come together to make positive change on our campus?”

We know it will be a challenge. We know it will take hard work on the part of every club leader, every team captain, every College House chair and, in fact, every individual on this campus.

It is a challenge we are ready to face.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Editorial Board, which is comprised of Sophie Burchell, Diego Lasarte, Rebecca Norden-Bright, Reuben Schafir, Emma Sorkin, Ayub Tahlil and Tianyi Xu.  


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