As we begin a new semester with more takeout containers and freezing walks to Farley, we want to take a moment to recognize those that keep this campus alive. The staff members and faculty that keep our campus running are also putting themselves and their families at risk when coming to work. When restrictions likely ease next week, we ask you to be considerate to these resilient individuals that make up Bowdoin’s backbone.
These staff members work above and beyond to make our experience here meaningful and memorable. An obvious example on campus this week is Dining Service’s reintroduction of separate menus at Moulton and Thorne—this is just one of the many ways staff and faculty have been working even harder to make the second semester better than the first. Professors regeared their syllabus-week plans and dealt with the add/drop period over Zoom. Housekeepers have kept our dorms as sanctuaries of warmth, stopping snow at the doorways, cleaning up when it rides our boots inside.
The housekeepers have worked to keep our housing clean, and due to the week’s ‘Hibearnation,’ they have been potentially interacting with students more than they would otherwise. Earlier this week, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator and Director of Residential and Student Life Mike Ranen wrote an email to students in various dormitories criticizing the lack of mask-wearing. Before the email was sent out, masks were few and far between in the bricks, as many students did not think about how often they interacted with the housekeeping staff. We support the sentiment of this message and encourage more thoughtful awareness.
Extend the same grace and kindness to your professors that you ask of them; they, too, are overstretched, questioning what a pandemic education looks like and missing the ‘normal’ classroom environment. The support, care and humor they bring to each day is not something to take for granted. A simple and genuine ‘thank you’ goes a long way.
The dining staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to provide us with food on campus. They put on wonderful holiday meals at the end of last semester. Now, despite a labor shortage, the rise of the Omicron variant and increased responsibility of providing different meals at each location, some members of the dining staff are interacting directly with students who have tested positive for COVID-19. Dining staff do not have a remote working option. Let’s be cognizant of that and acknowledge a continued job well done.
These thoughtful yet thankless hours that staff members and faculty dedicate to our wellbeing should not go unnoticed. As restrictions ease, these are the people who will be impacted by the relaxing of mask requirements and a less aggressive testing regimen. To be clear, we welcome these changes, and as the College moves towards an outlook on the virus more closely resembling an endemic, a necessary task in this return to semi-normalcy is making sure we treat all community members with respect and kindness.
Most of us do not have to worry about passing COVID to a vulnerable family member or an unvaccinated child, as many employees on campus do. The people whose jobs it is to support and take care of us live outside of the Bowdoin COVID “bubble” that so many students can take for granted, but they are a vital and beloved part of our community.
Ari Bersch, Janet Briggs, Michael Gordon, Kristen Kinzler, Diego Lasarte, Lily Randall, Marc Rosenthal, Emma Sorkin and Cloe Tarlton.