As Bowdoin’s President-elect Clayton Rose prepares to take office next year, several transition-spurred controversies have arisen at neighboring Bates College. 

Following the announcement that two popular deans would depart at the end of the year, the Bates College Student Government (BCSG) passed a vote of no confidence toward two members of the administration, President Clayton Spencer and the school’s Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Josh McIntosh, last month.  

“We students should be citizens at Bates, not subjects, and we hope Wednesday’s no-confidence vote will serve as a wake-up call to an administration that many students feel has been cavalier and out-of-touch,” read a statement from BCSG after the vote. 

Other administrative decisions this year have rankled Bates students as well. For example, McIntosh and Spencer came under criticism for their decision to end the school’s annual “Trick or Drink” party last fall. 

More recently, a piece in the Bates Student alleged that a mail center employee was illegally fired due to a disability. Bates’s Director of Media Relations Kent Fischer wrote in response that the piece “makes a number of serious, inaccurate and potentially defamatory assertions.”

According to Norberto Diaz, a junior at Bates and BCSG’s president, students are especially upset that the departures of the two deans, Associate Dean of Students Holly Gurney and Assistant Dean of Students Keith Tannenbaum, were announced at the end of an email from McIntosh about a variety of organizational changes.

McIntosh arrived at Bates at the beginning of this academic year. He declined to speak with the Orient. 

In an open letter published on March 9, Spencer expressed regret about the vote of no confidence, but defended the organizational changes.

“I regret that the Student Government felt compelled to take this action, because it suggests a gap between the perceptions of a group of students and what I know to be widely shared aspirations for strengthening the Bates experience,” she wrote. 

Diaz said that much of the controversy has been due to a lack of transparency between students and the administration.

Gurney and Tannenbaum “were two [members of the administration] that people saw around campus, who students spoke to,” said Diaz. “It didn’t really help that the student body wasn’t told in a good way.”

However, he added that he was optimistic about improving communication with the administration, particularly McIntosh, who as a new member of the administration has shouldered much of the recent criticism from students. Diaz said McIntosh’s main goals are to remake the school’s orientation program and create a more inclusive campus culture. 

“At the end of the day, he’s doing what he was hired to do. He sees Bates going in a new direction,” Diaz said.

Since the vote, he said, the BCSG has been making efforts to improve dialogue.

A referendum reorganizing the student government passed earlier this month, and Diaz has been spearheading efforts to implement office hours for student government members and monthly town hall meetings with members of the administration. 

“It all comes down to communication,” he said. “In the past, with all these events was mostly just bands of students tackling the administration. Student government needs to have a relationship with the administration so we can tell them what’s going on and how we feel.”