The Main Lounge of Moulton Union was alive with conversation from all ages last Thursday evening as student leaders, staff and Brunswick community members gathered for the annual Town Gown Dinner. For the first time since 2018, the program was revitalized this year, rekindling a tradition symbolizing the strong ties between the College and the local Brunswick community.
The Town Gown Dinner originally served to connect Brunswick officials and residents with leaders of the newly-created College House System in 1998. With this year’s return, however, the program included student leaders from all corners of the campus community, a change led in part by Assistant Director for Residential Life Alex Gates.
“The dinner was originally for all College House leaders, but our office felt that wasn’t a fair representation of campus as a whole,” Gates said. “The College Houses are a huge part of the campus—and a part that does interact with the town a lot—but it’s not everything Bowdoin has to offer, especially with student leadership. We wanted to get more people from other groups and provide a fair representation of campus.”
Amidst the discussion on which student leaders should be invited to the dinner, the tradition was put on pause in 2018.
“With the pandemic, the pause extended a bit more, but now we got to this point where I was very lucky—and able to have the time—to bring [the dinner] back and work with the entirety of campus,” Gates said.
Oscar Calle ’25 attended the event because of his leadership position as President of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and was connected with Brunswick Town Council member Abby King at the dinner.
“Towards the end [of the dinner] we were talking about celebrating my culture, especially during Latino History Month, because she emphasized the fact that [the town] wants to embrace diversity and celebrate all walks of life. Hopefully by next year, we can get something running and invite the town and the rest of the Brunswick Community to celebrate [Latino History Month],” Calle said.
Michael Sweeney ’26, the Town and Community Engagement leader for Helmreich House, also shared a positive experience about forging connections with members of the Brunswick community.
“I met someone who was able to provide me with guidance for a project I’m working on with other Town and Community Engagement leaders in the College Houses. We’re trying to rake the yards of seniors in Brunswick—sort of as a way to give back to the people that have been here for a while and have helped the College flourish,” Sweeney said. “I asked her to provide a means of connecting with senior citizens in the town, and she gave me a good platform to do that.”
A proctor in Quinby House, Evan Chapman ’25, appreciated the depth of conversations he was able to have with town residents.
“Town people come to our events, our productions, they play in bands, they sing in the choir. We operate together, and when you don’t have that, it feels really distant,” Chapman said.
Gates hopes that the connections created by students, staff and members of the Brunswick community will continue to flourish and build stronger relationships.
“We’re hoping to continue the dinner next year so that we can keep starting the year on a positive note and continuing that positivity throughout the year,” Gates said. “At Bowdoin, students often are the driving force behind programming. If they want something to happen, we can work to make it happen.”