I am sure that I am not the only one who felt that returning to college after more than a year away from school was daunting. As I packed my things and prepared to drive to Brunswick once again, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the memories of isolation and confinement from last fall. As grateful as I was for the safety protocols mandated by Bowdoin, I looked forward to a fresh start, new faces and an open campus.
While the Class of 2025 received a more traditional and thorough orientation this year, the incoming sophomore class got more of a do-it-yourself kit—no instructions, manual or even a campus map. Driving into campus was a silent march through scattered groups of people. There were no faculty or testing staff, no one to point things out and not much excitement. Having just been on a town hall Zoom the night before, during which the Bowdoin faculty and deans labeled a sophomore orientation as “not necessary” and not a good use of time, both me and my parents were expecting more. At the very least, anything at all for an entire class of students who were either alone in their dorms or studying from home last fall, the unwillingness to welcome them in, host in-person events or meet-and-greets or to even include them on the right mailing lists felt neglectful.
I want anyone reading this to know that above all, you are heard. If you felt overwhelmed or alone in the first few days on campus, you are not the only one. However, this does not mean that I do not see and appreciate Bowdoin and its outstanding faculty and staff for all that they have done throughout the pandemic. While the lack of orientation was a huge obstacle for many sophomores during the first few days of an entirely new and different college semester, I am positive that countless obstacles were presented to Bowdoin due to COVID-19 as well. I want to share my opinion not to discount this administration’s hard work or to seem ungrateful, but simply to shed light on an area that could use improvement. We cannot change the past, and we cannot get back any of the countless moments, memories or experiences that have been lost over this past year and a half. But we can move forward, and we can do better. I am writing this to ask Bowdoin, with the help of its surrounding community (myself enthusiastically included), to do better for the class of 2024 (and 2024.5) as we look to the future.
Delphine King is a member of the Class of 2024.