Six signs advocating for the removal of James “Jes” Staley ’79 P’11, CEO of Barclays, from the College’s Board of Trustees were taken down yesterday morning from the strip of grass between Maine Street and Park Row outside Hawthorne-Longfellow Library and Gibson Hall. The signs were removed by Julie Erdman, code enforcement officer for the town of Brunswick, at the request of the town manager.
The signs called attention to Barclays’ financing of the fossil fuel industry and to a 2018 investigation that resulted in Staley being fined more than 640,000 pounds by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for attempting to suppress a whistleblower. The signs argue that Staley’s views and actions are at odds with the values of the College.
“Are these really our values? Bowdoin, be better,” one sign read. “Let’s imagine a common good for all.” Another sign referred to President Clayton Rose’s statement in 2019 that described Staley as “all that is great about Bowdoin.”
On the back, the signs included contact information for Bre Kidman, a Saco-based lawyer who ran for the United States Senate in 2020 in the Democratic primary. Kidman did not respond to a request for comment.
Staley’s position on the Board of Trustees has come under consistent criticism from student activists, largely due to his relationship with the late sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein. Beginning this semester, the Bowdoin Labor Alliance (BLA) has led an extensive poster campaign calling for Staley’s removal from the Board. Posters have appeared in bathrooms around campus and throughout highly trafficked areas like Smith Union, raising awareness and requesting student action. Recently, the BLA has circulated a petition on social media as well as an email template for students to email Rose.
“Staley’s close association with sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, suppression of whistleblowers and complicity in perpetuating the climate crisis are clear violations of Bowdoin values,” the email template reads.
In response to the signs, the BLA leadership issued a statement reading: “We are glad to see bold action taken in response to Jes Staley’s continued appointment to the Board of Trustees.” When asked directly whether the BLA was responsible for putting up the signs, the leadership declined further comment. The signs do not bear the BLA’s logo, unlike the posters displayed around campus.
Scott Hood, senior vice president for communications and public affairs, declined to comment.
Reuben Schafir contributed to this report.