By now we have all heard about Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs Janet Dean Lohmann’s intentions for the upcoming Ivies. In its last issue, the Orient reported the details of meetings that Dean Lohmann held with several different student groups on campus to vet her plan with students and receive any feedback. On the surface, this was and still is an admirable goal. That said, unfortunately, the exact opposite came to fruition.
We, as leaders of BSAAC, were one of the groups that Dean Lohman asked to meet with in order to discuss to her plans for Ivies 2022, and we left this meeting frustrated and dismayed, but also unsurprised—the tone and narrative represented yet another instance in which the administration has ignored students’ opinions and feedback in order to pursue their own predetermined agenda. We have seen this pattern of behavior over our time at Bowdoin, and on definitively more consequential subjects, but the application of this attitude to something so cherished by the student body highlights the dramatic failings of Dean Lohmann and her colleagues, those who say they are our advocates.
In these meetings, Dean Lohmann was initially reserved with her plans, proposing minor changes that made sense given all that has changed since the last Ivies took place. However, this tone of compromise quickly gave way to her true vision for Ivies, a complete dilution of what we were all looking forward to: no more Quad day, no more Laddio, a three-hour window for outdoor lawn games on Saturday and many other changes made to effectively destroy Ivies. While her most recent March 29 email showed some moderation of her initial proposal, this destruction of a time-honored tradition in addition to a blatant disregard of student input shows just how detached administrators has grown.
In these meetings, we were categorically against all of Dean Lohmann’s proposals. While she justified her changes in the name of more far-reaching inclusivity, we were quick to point out that these changes would dissuade students from gathering on-campus and instead push them to off-campus residences that will be inherently more exclusive, which would achieve the exact opposite of her goal. However, this was clearly ignored and disregarded, a pattern the College’s administration has been following for some time. We can all see that making changes that will knowingly breed exclusivity is clearly not the best way to achieve Lohmann’s goal of “shar[ing] in community.”
Dean Lohmann ended her email announcement of this year’s Ivies plans writing: “if you wish to discuss any of what I have shared, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am happy to schedule a time to meet. And let’s do it in person rather than anonymously on social media. That’s how meaningful and productive connections are made in a true community.” This is an admirable statement; it is also a hypocritical one.
Dean Lohmann, you discussed all of this with us. You told us about your changes and we told you directly how this is the exact opposite of what the student body wants and needs at this moment. We warned you of opposition, and we proposed fair compromises. There is no failure of students in this instance. There is only the failure of an administration who pretended to listen and made menial changes in their initial plan to superficially check a box.
Our reaction, and that of the student body’s, is not only because of these changes. Rather, it is what these changes represent. They are yet another unsurprising occurrence of students being ignored and disregarded. The student body is angry because we feel unsupported and isolated.
Resources that are here for our “support” instead pursue their own agenda regardless of student interests. This has been a pattern that has marked the student experience, ostracized the student body and hijacked the spirit of campus.
For some time, student calls for change and help have been heard but not listened to. Instead, the administration has ignored these requests. The thought behind these meetings was there, but the follow through was not. We appreciate allowing us to register events at 2:30 p.m. instead of your initial proposal of 5 p.m., but that being the only change shows just how irrelevant our feedback was to you. It reminds us of the countless other times you have heard us but not listened. We hope this is the last.
Allyson Hawkins and Owen Wolfson are members of the Class of 2022.