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Letter to the editor: 50 Years of women; how many more of Jes Staley?

October 22, 2021

This piece represents the opinion of the author.

To the Editor:

Recently, I have been receiving emails from Bowdoin’s development office inviting me to donate to the recently established “Leaders in All Walks of Life Fund.” This is a “commemorative fund that supports financial aid for women students” and celebrates 50 years of women at Bowdoin. As a woman who received her Bowdoin education because of a generous financial aid package, I want to help pay this gift forward to future generations of women.

However, I can’t help but feel a little bit cynical reading these emails touting the “incredible women who have impacted our lives” when I know that Jes Staley is still a Bowdoin trustee.

Jes Staley maintained a friendship and business relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, a monstrous sociopath who systematically exploited and abused dozens of women and underage girls. Staley maintained this relationship even after Epstein was formally convicted of these crimes. Staley also attempted to unmask a whistleblower at his place of work several years ago. It is exactly this kind of intimidating behavior by people in power that has historically silenced employees facing hostility, discrimination and harassment in the workplace. It is exactly this kind of behavior, therefore, that has perpetuated gender inequality. But when the Bowdoin board investigated, they decided that “nothing in Jes Staley’s actions or behavior warranted the Board taking any action.”

My question to Bowdoin: is this the best you can do? If you really care about Bowdoin being a place where women thrive, why is an individual who has made the choices that Staley has at the helm of our school?

Until Bowdoin reckons with this continued hypocrisy, it’s not an institution that I will support. I hope others will join me in holding our alma mater (Latin, by the way, for “nourishing mother”) accountable.

Sincerely,

Mary Kelly Gardner ’10

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