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Sign at Sills site causes controversy

February 2, 2024

A sign on the Sills Hall construction site has caused some controversy on campus. The sign, which calls Bowdoin a “distinguished campus” and asks construction employees to “display highest levels of respect” for Bowdoin community members, has garnered mixed reactions from students.

“It puts Bowdoin students on a pedestal. That’s not really the Common Good,” Brian Arcentalez Salinas ’24 said.

“I get it, construction companies want to show respect for where they are. Adding ‘distinguished’ is a little weird,” Marcus Gadsden ’24 said.

The sign was put up by the construction company, JF Scott Construction, for the project. Originally displayed facing outward to campus, the sign was flipped inward Monday morning. Aaron O’Neil, the site’s project manager, said that a sign like the one at Sills is a standard operating procedure.

“It’s a standard code of conduct. It’s not just Bowdoin we’re trying to be respectful to, it’s to be respectful of each other,” he said. “It wasn’t for the students, it was for us.”

O’Neil said that those working on the site have not taken issue with the sign.

“Honestly, it’s empathetic. We appreciate [Bowdoin students] thinking about it that way, but we didn’t think about it that way. [The sign] sounds pious, but it wasn’t meant to be,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil said that the phrase “distinguished campus” was neither his nor JF Scott Construction’s choice. Although O’Neil sent the sign-maker examples and materials to include on the sign, like the Bowdoin logo, the sign-maker “took liberty” surrounding the language.

“We’re trying not to stir up anything. We’re here to do our work,” he said.

JF Scott Construction has no plans to remove the sign. The Sills renovation is set to finish before the fall semester of 2025.


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