College announces change to Ivies weekend
April 1, 2022
Bowdoin students last celebrated Ivies, an annual spring weekend of partying and concerts, in April 2019. This past week, the College announced the return of Ivies after two years of cancellation due to Covid-19, albeit with some notable changes from what the weekend has looked like in past years.
The Class of 2022 is the only class of Bowdoin students who has experienced an Ivies before. Three years ago, Ivies featured a Thursday night concert in Smith Union featuring a student band and a professional artist, a Friday all-day outdoor celebration on the Brunswick Apartments quad and a Saturday concert in Farley Field House featuring a student band and headlining artist. Ivies has followed roughly this same formula for multiple decades.
The Friday daytime celebration, known as Quad Day, last took place on the Brunswick Apartments lawn. During the day, students from across campus gathered to listen to music, play games and enjoy the warm weather.
“Everyone was dancing, enjoying spring with lawn games. It was like we were celebrating a long Maine winter coming to an end,” Jared Foxhall ’22 said. “It was an opportunity for me to make friends with people outside of my immediate friend group because of how inclusive it was.”
Historically, the College has not planned the majority of Ivies events, including Quad Day. The two exceptions to this were the College’s support of the Entertainment Board, which was tasked with organizing the concerts, and Student Activities’ help with coordinating logistics, including cleanup after Quad Day and extra security personnel throughout campus on Friday.
In an email to the student body on Tuesday, Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Janet Lohmann announced modifications to this year’s rendition of the 150-year tradition. According to Lohmann’s email, administrators have evolved the celebration in the hopes of being more representative of the College’s values.
Altering Ivies has been met with frustration both from students who have experienced what it has been in the past and from those who have been eagerly awaiting the experience.
“Changing Ivies is not canceling Ivies. It is considering what Ivies should look like now, in 2022, and evolving the event accordingly. And by the way, this type of evolution is not new to Ivies in the past 150 years, or we would still be planting ivy near the Chapel,” Lohmann wrote in her email.
This year, administrators have canceled the Thursday night concert and detached the Saturday concert from the celebration, moving it up by three weeks. Additionally, the College is hoping to both contain and move away from Quad Day festivities. While administrators are discouraging partying in the Brunswick Apartments quad, they are allowing students to register events beginning at 2:30 p.m.
“This event has never been a college- or student group-sponsored event, nor has it been organized with the consent of the residents of Brunswick Apartments (who bear the consequences of Quad Day in their immediate living area),” Lohmann wrote. “The result has consistently been a lack of accountability for behavior that is unacceptable on our campus, including the destruction of property, violence, injuries and dangerous levels of intoxication.”
Student Activities will host various activities on Saturday, April 30, on the main quad in response to positive feedback from students about May Day and Fall Fest over the past year.
“This year, we are taking the opportunity to rethink Ivies and to design an experience that keeps the focus on welcoming spring and celebrating as a community, while still prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of all our members,” Lohmann wrote.
These changes have sparked conversation among students at the College who feel their opinions were ignored, or feel that the Ivies experience they were expecting has been unjustly withheld.
“I think students are tired of things being taken away. I see student frustration, and I think it’s valid,” Brady Douglas ’24 said. “It’s inevitable that kids will have a good time on or off campus, and it’s obviously much safer on campus. Why force it off campus, where it’s less safe and less regulated?”
Bowdoin Student Government Chair of Student Activities Miranda Baker ’24 echoed these feelings of disappointment.
“There’s already complicated feelings with my class as far as how they feel toward Bowdoin. There’s this huge lack of trust between the Class of 2024 and Bowdoin admin[istrators], Bowdoin security [and] Bowdoin as a whole,” Baker said. “My class … they’re just kind of tired. And so this really wasn’t surprising, Quad Day being taken away. They’re just like, ‘Okay, like, what’s next now?’ Which is kind of sad.”
Lohmann, one of the administrators responsible for planning this year’s event, maintains that this new model of Ivies is an improvement.
“I want to acknowledge the feelings that students have about losing a tradition that has felt defining to Bowdoin in recent years. I want to acknowledge the collective exhaustion that is being felt, particularly in these last two years, and what it means to see that something else is changing and the sense of loss that is associated with that,” Lohmann wrote in an email to the Orient. “But I’d like to make sure this message is clearly conveyed—the College wants Ivies to happen! We have raised concerns about the most recent iteration of Ivies and identified guardrails we believe are necessary to ensure an inclusive and safe event.”
The toll that Quad Day takes, both on and off campus, is significant. In addition to the $8,500 paid to external services—including trash and debris collection and porta-potties—Brunswick town residents and Brunswick Apartments residents have made complaints about disruption caused by the event.
“Students in previous years have expressed concerns about events happening in their living area without their consent—events that were noisy and disruptive and led to individuals entering apartments without permission, not to mention destruction of property and theft,” Lohmann wrote.
Lohmann noted that another key factor in the decision to alter Ivies was the heightened number of bias incidents, vandalism, alcohol transports and Title IX violations that occurred during previous Ivies celebrations. She explained that this created a divisive atmosphere on campus and did not reflect the values of the College.
Following Ivies in 2019, President Clayton Rose emailed the campus community to acknowledge substance abuse during the celebration and stated his plans to mitigate them going forward.
“The abuse of alcohol during Ivies—something raised independently by faculty at their monthly meeting on Monday—is a growing concern, and we will collaborate with Bowdoin Student Government in the fall to consider whether a change to the current model for Ivies Weekend is in order,” Rose wrote in an email to all students and employees of the College in May 2019.
Vice President and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Benje Douglas reported observing an increase in Title IX violations related to events during Ivies weekend over his eight years as the College’s Title IX coordinator.
“In my experience, some of the most physically violent acts of sexual assault that have been reported to me happened during or around Ivies,” Douglas wrote in an email to the Orient.
Douglas wrote that some students were unwilling to officially report Title IX violations that occurred over Ivies weekend out of concern that the celebrations would be cited as a cause.
“They don’t have to blame Ivies, and I won’t blame Ivies either,” Douglas wrote. “I will simply say that the extraordinary amount of drinking coupled with the enormous pressure some students place on Ivies to make it the most important party of the year makes the conditions ripe for some to make choices that they might not otherwise make.”
Lohmann met with various campus leaders to elicit student input throughout the process of rethinking this year’s Ivies celebration.
“We spoke with leaders in athletics; we spoke with senior class council; we spoke with BSG; we spoke with ResLife heads and the Entertainment Board (E-Board),” Lohmann said in an interview. “The plan was to talk to student groups—to listen to what they had to say, to create a proposal and then to communicate that with students.”
Some students, however, felt that the opinions they shared had no influence on the ultimate decision.
“I was definitely informed, not consulted,” E-Board Co-Chair Giancarlo De La Rosa ’22 said. “During the meeting with [Dean] Lohmann I thought, ‘Well, damn, there’s nothing I can do.’ They really made the decision. Now all I’m tasked with is just bringing the artists here, and that’s my only job, really.”
President of the Class of 2022, Carlos Campos ’22, echoed De La Rosa’s feelings.
“I had nothing to do with Ivies planning … Ivies is typically student-led, but that doesn’t involve the class councils. Most of the time it is led by the E-Board to plan the concerts and to do a lot of other various activities,” Campos said.
BSG President Ryan Britt ’22 shared concerns that canceling some of these events, including Quad Day, might backfire and direct students to more dangerous party spaces.
“The fact that Quad Day was historically a completely unorganized event that was College-sanctioned in a way—but it wasn’t actually organized—but somehow just happens, raised concerns for administrators. But a lot of people are saying that taking away Quad Day doesn’t take away bias incidents and things like that. They might just be happening in darker spaces or off-campus,” Britt said.
While some students understand the need to address bias incidents, Title IX cases and vandalism, they feel as if other avenues could have been explored.
“The justification [of] using Title IX or racial bias incidents was really offensive to me because I felt as though it was just kind of an excuse to cancel something that the College has no interest in supporting anymore. Instead of actually addressing these real deep-rooted issues at this college, like sexual assault or racial bias, we are using it as an excuse to not host an event and ultimately amplifying the consequences of those actions,” Tiffany Delgado ’23 said.
Gigi Diserio ’22 shared Delgado’s sentiment and expressed that these concerns should have been addressed separately, rather than isolated to the Ivies discussion.
“I appreciate that they’re making an effort, but I just don’t know if it’s exactly the right way to go about it. I think it’s making people unhappy and against the school in a way. But that being said, I’m really appreciative of how the school is making an effort to still create events that are inclusive for everyone, and I hope underclass [students] can enjoy their first Ivies as much as I did,” Diserio said.
Diserio highlighted the “fishbowl method” she was taught in a sexual violence course led by Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion & Diversity and Director of the Center for Sexuality, Women & Gender Kate Stern at the College that comprehensively explains this situation.
“If you have sick fish in a dirty fishbowl and take them out into a clean bowl, you still have sick fish,” Diserio said.
Delgado highlighted the concern: that bias incidents would not cease when an event is canceled.
“These things are just going to go underground, and by not having a campus-wide event, Security is not going to be there to help someone that is potentially assaulted. Instead, they’re going to be off-campus parties, and maybe BPD will show up or maybe no one will show up. So I think that said, using these justifications is really out of touch,” Delgado said.
Moving forward, Lohmann emphasized that she hopes students will create new traditions and be active in programming for the upcoming Ivies.
The current proposal asks students to approach Hintze on Friday with activity ideas to replace Quad Day. Plans including a potential BSG-sponsored event on the Harpswell Apartments quad are in the works.
“I am excited to see the events that students and student groups are already incubating,” Lohmann wrote in an email to the Orient. “My conversations over the last two days (with BSG and other students)—have shown students stepping in to be a part of the solution, and I believe these efforts will foster new traditions that preserve the very best of an Ivies celebration for years to come.”
Halina Bennet contributed to this report.
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Who does the Administration serve?
If it were the students, I’d like to think the administration would recognize the exhaustion of the student body (especially the seniors, who have been dealt a particularly cruel hand) and grant them this joyous respite. They’d stand up to defend students from opposition from Brunswick residents, BPD, et. al.,. They’d go all out, as if to gesture, “I know your time here may not have been ‘the best four years of your life,’ but at least we can send you off with a celebration ‘To make hosts of friends… Who are to be leaders in all walks of life; To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms.'” The students are entitled to this weekend.
But, no, the administration serves Bowdoin the institution – playing it ever-safer, ever-duller, ever more agreeable. The institution may be more secure without these traditions, perhaps absolved when conflict arrises at now inevitable underground parties, but the students will be exposed to far more risk, the possiblility for genuine connection will be greatly diminshed, and a truly battered set of classes may leave without the love I feel towards Bowdoin.
Also, punish rapists harsher than you punish CS101 cheaters. Thanks — everyone.
The college has been going in a Machiavellian and disturbingly insincere direction since Rose got appointed. They run it entirely like a business now. Perhaps that’s the result of having a president chosen by a board of hedge fund managers who’ve been appointed to win their donations. As long as the college puts money first it will just grow less and less special and unique, less and less of a true liberal arts institution, less and less of a place of principle. Shame on Lohmann and Rose – they don’t stand for the College I knew or loved
This is so disappointing but at this point what do we expect from the administration? It’s sad that Bowdoin students cannot have fun on campus, they keep pushing everything off campus which will backfire in regards to their safety plan. Also if everything’s so expensive, why did some college houses offer their leftover budgets to help with cleaning costs and booking fees in 2020? If we’re worried about bias incidents, why not fire a third of the staff who confuse names, faces and ethnicities like that’s their job? Give me a break Bowdoin. Always pretending like everything is such a financial burden when E Board’s budget is HALF of what other schools get. If you really cared about the students why not bring back the planned artist for 2020?
Fortunately Bowdoin will be around much longer than Janet Lohmann’s tenure and the college will be able to shake her off like a bad cold. I feel for current students who have not been able to enjoy their college experiences to the fullest extent.
At the heart of the problem is that Lohmann is an academic who cannot see beyond the book. She refuses to believe that students can learn outside of the classroom (potentially learned from her time as a professor at a small Roman Catholic school with no party scene. I currently manage a team of over 50 employees and I certainly use the skills I developed at parties and social events as much as I do from my studies in order to be a good manager. I fear that this goes over the head of Lohmann and so it seems that the college is keen to remove as many traditions and opportunities for social events as possible.
Survey students 10 years after they graduate and see what parts of the college experience were most important to them. You may be surprised to hear that it wasn’t that one sociology class right before spring break.
Let’s be honest. In terms of the party scene, Bowdoin is pretty much as tame as it gets. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s not pretend Brunswick residents can’t stomach one weekend a year of medium-level debauchery.
Ivies allows students to let loose and create stories. Yes, there’s binge drinking. This is a college!!! Stop this unnecessary pearl clutching at let these students — who work their butts off all year — have this one weekend.
Also, not exactly sure why Dean Lohmann insists upon this condescending tone of voice. These are college students and she’s talking to them like she’s a middle school vice principal. Watch out for when she slips away to Kenyon for another year and somehow comes back as the new President….
The administration needs to stop treating Bowdoin students like children.
No concerts and no Quad Day, but don’t worry, you’ll get one (1) student government barbecue, and maybe even a keg if you’re extra well-behaved!
The students quoted are absolutely right: the decision to functionally end Ivies is just going to demoralize already worn down students, and will push the harder partying (and all its dark sides) off campus and exacerbate conflict with the community and BPD.
I feel so bad for these kids. They deserve better.
“Douglas wrote that some students were unwilling to officially report Title IX violations that occurred over Ivies weekend out of concern that the celebrations would be cited as a cause.” If this is true, then the College’s decision to effectively cancel Ivies *while citing sexual assaults and bias incidents the reason* is especially wrongheaded and counterproductive. It precisely vindicates these students’ fears about coming forward—that if they do, the Administration will use this as an excuse to cancel beloved events.
Doing this when student memory of Ivies is low thanks to covid is particularly cynical. The Administration clearly saw opportunity in this tragedy.
To any current students reading: despite their presumption to the contrary, the admins do not and won’t ever have the power to shape the school’s culture—you do! So go have as much fun as possible this weekend, look out for each other, and always remember to drink plenty of water. 🙂
The students of Bowdoin deserve so much better than an administration that strips them of the events that actually foster true relationships and social cohesion on campus. The Bowdoin I love is no longer and I think most of us reading this can agree that this erosion began under the watch of President Rose and him alone, having also seen his predecessor at the helm. This underground social scene, as others have mentioned, will lead to more dangerous situations for students not less, but Janet Lohmann, Clayton Rose and others can absolve themselves.
To call this a “change” and not a “cancellation” is insulting to anyone with an ounce of reason and I feel terribly for the students who can’t enjoy the same traditions as their fellow alumni have for generations, after an already brutal college experience amid the pandemic. The administration should be ashamed for what they’ve done to the Bowdoin experience, not just with this Ivies “change”, but for the progressive erosion of the experiences that make Bowdoin such a special place at the behest of ideological and administrative interests. I won’t contribute to Bowdoin any longer until this insanity stops.
When I was looking at schools, one of the things that was attractive to me about Bowdoin was that the social scene was genuinely fun and relatively wholesome and pretty inclusive. It was the good parts of “good old college,” whereas other schools I looked at were like, rape and coke central. Pre-gaming? ugh, no, I wanted to talk to friends at a big party, not some scuzzy underground off-campus mystery event hosted by older guys. It’s very, very, very hard for an institution to toe the line when you’re dealing with underage drinking. Sure. Fine. Insurance, yeah. But that work is worth it, Bowdoin admins! Things do generally work when parties are on campus, in the houses, and security is the partner not the enemy. When people are allowed to say “this bad thing happened to me and yes I was drinking when when I shouldn’t have been, please help.” When parties are off campus, in lockable dorm rooms, and people have to binge and pre-game before scurrying to parties restricted to teams and their friends only, and on BPD turf…what do you think is going to happen? Get real.
This is a tragic butchering of an iconic Bowdoin experience dressed up in a tired, “it’s for your own good” costume. At least in my time, the vast majority of the Bowdoin party scene throughout the year was contained and verging on sedate, as my state school friends never failed to point out. To have one spring weekend to pull out all the stops and celebrate the closing out of the year was a beautiful and necessary release. Keep Ivies as it is, and find a more reasonable way to reign in the minority of students who abuse the weekend. And if not, I completely agree that enterprising students will likely take the party elsewhere, possibly to somewhere that is a far cry from the safety of the confined Brunswick quad.