On April 30, President Rose sent out an email to the Bowdoin community addressing the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the College. He assured the Bowdoin community that “a top priority is job preservation”—but which jobs, at what pay and for how long?
To the Editor, On April 2, we started a mutual aid fund to support Bowdoin community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The concept was simple: we would fundraise to fulfill individual requests submitted by students, staff and community members who needed immediate, direct financial assistance.
Our first year, President Clayton Rose taught a First-Year Seminar titled “The Moral Leader.” A young Ben Ray wrote in his course notes that “an accumulation of moral challenges solved with moral choices (either based on principles or consequences) paints a picture of the capabilities of a leader.” Clayton taught that moral leaders have a moral code which guides their decisions.
This past year, the Bowdoin Labor Alliance (BLA) exposed the vast distance between low-wage workers at the College and an administration indifferent to their needs. Leadership at the College prioritizes the financial bottom line over its obligation to our community members, even when we, as a wealthy liberal arts college and “non-profit,” have the luxury of making financial decisions that reflect our core values.
After months of conversations with workers to formulate Bowdoin Labor Alliance (BLA) demands, and Orient reporting on Bowdoin’s compensation program, we lament that only public pressure could generate a response from the College. We are deeply troubled by the College’s effort to mischaracterize student and worker demands, malign the Orient’s reporting, reject Maine Department of Labor standards and silence workers’ voices.
Disclaimer: We, the authors of this response, are willing to speak our minds about the deceptive practices of Bowdoin College revealed in last week’s issue of the Orient. We understand that making such public statements, even anonymously, poses risks for those employed by the College.
We, members of the Bowdoin Labor Alliance, write this statement to publicly express our solidarity with federal workers struggling during these long weeks without pay due to the government shutdown. Workers should not be exploited as political pawns; they are our friends, relatives, community members and peers.
This fall, President Rose welcomed us back to campus with an email which included a section entitled “Our Commitment to Our Hourly Employees” in which he presented the College as an institution committed to its employees—a deceptive attempt to suggest serious introspection on the part of the College these past few months.