Bowdoin groundskeeping has assisted in creative uses of Bowdoin spaces by placing tables and chairs throughout campus, especially on Main Quad. The hallowed ground at the College, Main Quad’s well-manicured lawns and picturesque buildings create a beautiful landscape that is arguably unrivaled on Bowdoin’s campus. We must allow the quad to become a space of function and beauty—allowing students to use the space as their own and not simply for beauty and the eye of donors. The marvelous multifunctionality of Bowdoin’s outdoor space can help students build community in a COVID-safe way.
Indoor spaces like Hawthorne-Longfellow Library or David Saul Smith Union are significantly less crowded as students have been able to more easily spread themselves throughout campus and take advantage of outdoor areas. At a time when guidelines prevent filling dining halls to capacity, the College has had to rethink their limited choices of outdoor living. Students have taken initiative and used these new additions to their full advantage—people of all disciplines within the College congregate to study, eat or socialize every day on the quad, in sunny or less-than perfect weather. The beauty of a Maine fall cannot be overstated; having spaces to take in this magnificence is imperative.
Tables and chairs are a new addition to the quad, a vast shift in approach from previous years. The popularity of this outdoor seating is a clear indicator that this should not be a pandemic-specific adjustment. Seating arrangements on Main Quad were formerly reserved for major gatherings like Commencement or the president’s welcome address to first year students; for the rest of the year, students who wanted to enjoy the outdoors were limited to sitting on the grass and trying (often unsuccessfully) to find a tree to comfortably lean against.
We commend the College for this positive change to the quad. As the temperatures drop to the fifties, students will continue to use the outdoor seating options. Even when dining halls reopen at full capacity, the option to sit outdoors to eat, study or socialize still provides a valuable alternative. The tables and chairs should not be a temporary addition; they should stay for years to come. Add a few extra Adirondack chairs—they make a world of difference.
We’ve been forced to rethink what we use the outdoor space for, with professors holding office hours outside, students eating on the quad and college houses hosting programming in their backyards. This innovative push has helped students live, learn and grow at a residential college within the context of the pandemic. Keeping the tables and chairs outside further into the semester, or permanently, will allow us to continue to explore as we have, making the best of a challenging semester.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Editorial Board, which is comprised of Ari Bersch, Aura Carlson, Sebastian de Lasa, Diego Lasarte, Rebecca Norden-Bright, Emma Sorkin and Ayub Tahlil.