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Are students heard? A case for a real Ivies

April 1, 2022

This piece represents the opinion of the authors.
Sophie Lipset

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.

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12 comments:

  1. Class of 2022 says:

    As Bowdoin students, we work too hard to have one of our few moments of reprieve taken from us. People will criticize how “entitled” we are to “glorified drinking.” The elitist comments that insinuate that we are above drinking and partying are honestly ridiculous. Students, especially seniors, endure so much at this school with very few things to look forward to. For so many students, Ivies has been the one event we look forward to. A weekend when people—even professors!!—understand that students finally need to let lose and have fun. In a lot of ways, this is about mental health. We are exhausted. People criticize conflating this with a mental health issue, but why don’t we deserve a weekend off for once? A weekend where people understand we can finally fully devote ourselves to having fun, whatever that may look like, without feeling guilt or pressure to “be productive.” For me, and a lot of people I know, that is what Ivies is about. Relishing in the few moments where we finally get to feel like college students and prioritize fun—the type of fun that WE like.

  2. Class of 2021 says:

    Yeah, Bowdoin is ripping down all its beautiful old buildings, gutting departments that won’t get you a job a tech company, and is actively attempting to destroy student’s cultural traditions in order to turn itself into Clayton “Bank of America” Rose’s personal neoliberal incubator.

    Don’t have any expectations of you time at this school, and certainly don’t ever donate. I know I won’t.

    • Another Class of 2021 says:

      Getting rid of ivies reduces potential legal liability and general operating expenses allows the College to take less money out of the endowment. The College runs a surplus every year–billions of dollars invested across many rich private colleges and universities helps to inflate asset prices (like stocks) that the wealthy already own.

      More money in the budget is good for admin too–it helps keep the budgets for their departments healthy so they get raises and can pawn off their work onto the entry level staff or students that they can manage (and thus they can command a raise in salary since they are management).

      And we haven’t even gotten to the shocking number of econ, gov, and comp sci workers that this supposed college pumps out each year. Removing these majors and the affirmative-action-admitted rich athletes who undertake those courses of study would be a good first step in eliminating many of the ails the admin unjustly blames on ivies.

    • Annoyed says:

      “Another Class of 2021” don’t be fooled they have the cash. Our budget is abysmal compared to what other schools are giving their E Boards.

  3. ‘21 says:

    Pinning prejudices and cruelties such as sexual assault, racism, property destruction on Ivies is unfair. These are systems of biases that people learn over time and that the college should actively call out and challenge, not blame on alcohol.

  4. Bruce Lynskey, 1977 says:

    It was a radically different time for Bowdoin in the 1970s compared to the situation today. With a very independent-minded student body along with a very young administration (the youngest college president in the country along with a well-liked female Dean of Students in her mid-20s), the administration’s practice was laissez-faire with all matters. They never would have even contemplated the idea of altering or dumbing down Ivies Weekend, which was firmly in control of the students.
    There was one instance in the middle of the fall semester final exam week (outside temperature was about 0 degrees) when the proud residents of Baxter House staged an all out, planned retribution assault on Coleman Hall around midnight – with the William Tell overture blaring at high volume, the vacuum cleaners loaded with powdered laundry detergent serving as cannons, lots of eggs, several hundred condoms filled with water and tied, and a few hundred tampons dipped in red-dyed water serving as grenades. The Brunswick Fire Department put and end to it at 1 AM. The Dean of Students showed up and said that she would be back at noontime and expected to see no mess. That was it.

  5. concerned sr says:

    The idea that the solution to curbing SA and similar problems is to have events off campus, without college oversight and without a college security/wider college presence is absurd, and not how prevention measures work. You don’t shut down bars to stop people from drinking, they’ll just go home and drink, and possibly hurt themselves without anyone ever knowing or seeing them. Exactly the same case here w gender violence

  6. Roots Radical says:

    For a hot second, when I saw the term ” A real Ivies ” , I became excited about a return to the roots of the Ivies…sigh.

  7. Conrad Spens '77 says:

    What’s this- a glimmer of rebellion against the hyper-managed lives of current Bowdoin students? I’m heartened by the “loose talk” of personal freedom and responsibility in the face of an ever more structured and conforming student experience/indoctrination. My classmate Bruce Lynskey above has it right- have fun, don’t hurt anybody, and clean up your mess. What a different place the Bowdoin world has become, not all of it good.

  8. Concerned Alum says:

    Students generally didn’t have a good perception of the Student Affairs office under the leadership of its current occupant when I attended Bowdoin over 10 years ago. Not sure why the College decided to re-hire this same person, but there seems to be a common pattern here. President Clayton – it’s time to do a root and branch review of senior leadership for the sake of the student experience and College community.

  9. Class of 2019 says:

    I agree that certain activities that take place during Ivies are responsible for creating the cathartic culmination that we know Ivies to have traditionally been, and that the administration is wrong for several reasons. However, the approach by the student body to communicate and to gain compromise on these issues has been wanting. The writing in this article is quite honestly unbecoming of the Bowdoin Orient of just a few years ago, and it is full of personal/emotional bias.

    • administrator says:

      Thank you for your comment. To be clear this is an op-ed, not a news article. It is not written by a member of the Orient staff. As is written on our website, the Orient endeavors to represent student viewpoints. As this op-ed is written by people directly familiar with the situation and is representative of opinions shared by many students, it meets the standards for publication. Thanks!
      Diego Lasarte, Emma Sorkin, Editors-in-Chief of the Bowdoin Orient


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