BSG meeting focuses on Ivies weekend
April 1, 2022
On Wednesday evening, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) held its weekly meeting with special guests Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Janet Lohmann, Director of Student Activities Nate Hintze, Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi, Associate Dean of Students Khoa Khuong and Associate Dean for Student Affairs Katie Toro-Ferrari to help answer student questions regarding changes to Ivies.
The meeting started with a public comment time facilitated by BSG President Ryan Britt ’22. Several students in attendance arrived prepared with questions for Dean Lohmann and her staff. Their remarks and questions centered around concerns that Title IX violations and bias incidents factored into the administration’s reasoning for changing Ivies.
Eliza Madigan ’24, a public commenter, expressed her frustration with Title IX violations being used as an excuse to change Ivies. She also explained that students will hold Ivies events off-campus if administrators ban them from holding the traditional events on campus premises.
“From my point of view, when I see that Title IX is brought up as a reason, it seems like you’re putting all of the consequences for these actions on the victims,” Eliza Madigan ’24 said. “That’s how I see it personally. I see that everybody is being punished, not just specific people who are perpetrating this issue.”
Nico Brown ’24 opposed the administration’s decision to delay registered events until 2:30 p.m. on the Friday of Ivies and forcing all events to be registered with ResLife.
“I’m a little bit concerned with Bowdoin’s obsession with maximizing the efficiency of every student and thinking that academic life is the only important aspect,” Brown said. “Social life is equally important, I’d say, and I think all that students are asking for is just a time where we can all get together … as one student body.”
In response to the concerns, Lohmann reminded students that her office’s actions could have been far more extreme.
“I could have said no alcohol. I could have said no Ivies. I might have said all these things that I knew were ridiculous to say,” Lohmann said. “The bottom line is now to say it’s our job to figure out how we’re going to create something that gives you all the things you [the students] want. I want those things for you as well.”
She later explained that BSG, Bowdoin Student Athlete Advisory Committee (BSAAC) and Residential Life were consulted about the changes made to Ivies weekend.
One major impetus for the changes to Ivies weekend was issues surrounding Title IX violations, bias incidents, alcohol abuse and widespread destruction at the last Ivies weekend in April 2019.
“We had alcohol transports, we had violence, we had vandalism, we had destruction [of campus]. We can show you pictures of the Brunswick [Apartments] Quad that are concerning to share,” Lohmann said.
Director of Student Activities Nate Hintze explained that due to low attendance at the 2019 Ivies Saturday concert, the event has been separated from Ivies weekend and scheduled three weeks earlier on April 8.
Students’ opinions differed with those of administrators. Some expressed disappointment about the broader changes made to Bowdoin traditions over the past couple of years.
“We’re exhausted. For us, the idea of finally having something, even if it’s symbolic, even if it’s like a myth, [is that it is] having something to look forward to,” Lily Morlet ’24, BSG’s Counseling Representative, said. “Having that taken away from us … is so disheartening.”
Additionally, students expressed that Ivies was a distinguishing factor in their choice to come to Bowdoin, a marker of the school’s traditions.
Abhi Nagireddygari ’25 explained that he perceived Ivies as such a central part of the Bowdoin tradition that his admission interviewer mentioned it when he was applying to the College—a sentiment with which other student attendees at the meeting agreed.
“I was told by my interviewer that if I chose to come here, in April we would have this amazing event called Ivies,” he said.
Later, BSG Vice President Andrew Kaleigh ’24 proposed forming an ad hoc committee of BSG members to solicit opinions from the student body and work with Dean Lohmann and her office to implement changes students would like to see to Ivies.
After the meeting, Britt gave his thoughts on the conversation.
“I feel like it was a mixed bag,” Britt said. “Some tensions got high … but I think going forward, what I want to take away from all of this is that we can make [Ivies] happen in a way that everyone wants. The big [celebration] everyone wants is possible.”
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“I could have said no alcohol. I could have said no Ivies. I might have said all these things that I knew were ridiculous to say,”
I will donate the day Janet retires.
Also is no one mentioning the last min switch and cancellation in 2019 that has a huge role in the low attendance argument. Also what’s high attendance? Because if you’re talking about heads in Farley alone, that’s a skewed perspective of Ivies. It’s a WEEKEND, not an afternoon or an evening.
As a recent alum, I feel sadness about what I see Bowdoin is becoming, and a genuine sense of loss for the current crop of Polar Bears. Ivies stood as the annual event in which the lines dividing social groups most crumbled, and we all had a chance to revel in a shared sense of Bowdoin identity. Dean Lohmann – who was never a student here, and clearly cares little for preserving Bowdoin’s unique traditions – suggests that “I could have said no alcohol. I could have said no Ivies.” What sort of message does this send to current students, or to alumni who treasure this shared Bowdoin identity stretching back decades?
Instead of allowing students the chance to craft their own memorable event, to come together and celebrate after several exhausting years, to make and learn from their mistakes, the administration decides to neuter student input and treat these alleged competent adults like summer campers. In too many areas, Bowdoin increasingly chooses the easy, sanitized, bland path. This is administration run amok, catering to the US News Rankings and not current students. The result is a watered down institution indistinguishable from its competitors and unrecognizable to its passionate alumni.