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Disoriented: a review of the Bowdoin Orient

April 25, 2024

This piece represents the opinion of the author .

If the Bowdoin Orient disbanded tomorrow, what would change? The staff would be freed from their weekly Thursday night toils, the columnists would have to find somewhere else to publish and, for many of us, the ten minutes we spend casually flipping through each week’s edition would be allocated to something else. The College would continue to be much the same. I think some people would never notice it was gone. The Orient is, for most, an afterthought. I’ve never been shocked by a piece of information in the Orient, and, by now, I never expect to be. Every week is an amalgamation of mediocrity, combined with the occasional excellent column. Every week is exactly what I’ve come to expect. Perhaps I’m wrong in believing that it could be something more. Perhaps this is what the Bowdoin Orient is meant to be. But I don’t think so. The Orient is disoriented, and that’s a problem.

In an attempt to find some semblance of a unifying vision of the Orient’s leaders, I turned to their own words, in the form of their weekly editorials. I was greeted by a series of takes only marginally more controversial than the idea that we shouldn’t kill kittens: End legacy admissions, the parties are bad, the Spring Concert was bad, college employees make the College special. I wonder if an editorial opinion has ever sparked change. I’d guess not.

At least the Editorial Board has something resembling opinions. Most of the College, it seems, does not. Outside of its two columns, the opinion section averages something like two contributions a week. That’s pathetic. I know it’s not because it’s hard to get published—they’re publishing this! A largely negative piece about the paper written by a first year with the writing ability of a slightly drunk hedgehog. It’s not because people don’t have opinions; I know plenty of people with ideas of how this college could be changed for the better. Maybe people don’t publish due to the mere inconvenience of writing 500 words, but I think it’s something else.

At Bowdoin, we lack intellectual courage. By intellectual courage I don’t mean taking hard classes like the Editorial Board once boldly recommended (although many of us don’t do that either). I mean the courage to put your ideas out into the world and prepare for them to be challenged. To publish something that’s truly unpopular because you believe in it. The problems with the Bowdoin Orient are merely symptoms of a larger problem. The Orient fails to be bold because no one demands it be. We, as a college, are too content with the status quo, and that’s how we get a newspaper that specializes in telling us what we already know. (There’s a waffle machine in Thorne.)

I doubt that will ever change, but I hope it will. I hope for a day when I open the Orient and see a dozen opinions, each more audacious than the last. A day where a dean, if told they’re being investigated by the Orient, has a reaction besides something like “The Orient does investigations?” A day when “To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work/ And the criticism of your own” is more than two lines in the Offer of the College and becomes a practice we engage in on a daily basis. Maybe I’m wrong, and that day has already come. If so, I look forward to your opinions disagreeing with me in next week’s Orient.

Sam Lieman is a member of the Class of 2027.


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  1. Bill Viets ‘91 says:

    Best Orient article or column in years!

  2. Class of 2025 says:


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