Twenty-five years ago this week, a group of 50 students blocked the entrances to the College’s administration building for four hours in protest of the lack of faculty diversity at Bowdoin. At the time, Bowdoin had just nine faculty members of color.
Since then, the College has emphasized the need to improve the racial diversity of its faculty, embarking on several initiatives toward that end. Results have been mixed: the number of professors of color on campus has increased, but that growth has been slow and uneven, and lagged behind many of Bowdoin’s peers.
Last year, there were a total of 32 minority members of the entire 235-person faculty, good for 13.6 percent of Bowdoin’s faculty, according to the College’s Common Data Set.
Many of the same obstacles that Bowdoin faced in creating a diverse faculty in 1990 still challenge the College today.
Randy Stakeman, associate professor of history and Africana studies emeritus, was the associate dean of academic affairs from 1991-1994 and at times in the 1980s and 1990s the only African-American professor at Bowdoin. He listed four challenges to creating a diverse faculty: the departmental hiring process, conscious and unconscious biases, the demography of specific fields and the unattractiveness of Bowdoin’s location.
“None of these is an excuse not to pursue faculty diversity, nor to throw up your hands at the impossibility,” Stakeman said in a phone interview with the Orient. “They are simply obstacles to be overcome.”
“Those all remain challenges, but we have worked towards mitigating some of the effects of those challenges,” said Interim Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Scanlon.Current Innitiatives
Scanlon said that the biggest challenge for Bowdoin now is addressing people’s implicit biases.
“That is inherent in our culture, people of color exhibit unconscious bias, white people exhibit unconscious bias, it is part of the water that we swim in, the air that we breathe. But that doesn’t excuse it in any way. So we have to make sure that we employ principles but also talk honestly and openly about these things," Scanlon said.
Today, the College’s efforts to create a racially diverse faculty are a part of each faculty search. The Faculty Diversity Committee has five members, one of whom sits on the search committee for every faculty opening.
The representative from the Faculty Diversity Committee is involved in a search from the time a position opens up until after the new faculty member is on campus. He or she is tasked with providing an outside perspective on the search committee and ensuring that candidates from a range of backgrounds, subfields and graduate programs are considered.
“It’s not just about the pool of candidates,” said Scanlon. “It’s also about our ability to fairly read applications and CVs and think long term and clearly about what fit means, what excellence means, what success means in a broader way.”
The College has also hired Romney Associates, a consulting firm, to help search committees think about how they can be conscious of diversity during every step of a search process.The Maine Problem
While Bowdoin has changed its hiring process to include a member of the Faculty Diversity Committee in every search to recruit more broadly and to educate the committee about potential biases, it cannot do anything to change its location.
Bates, Bowdoin and Colby had three of the four lowest percentages of minority faculty in the NESCAC in 2014.
“Maine is overwhelmingly white. Maine is overwhelmingly rural. We are in a small town,” said Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History Brian Purnell. “If you are black, or you are Hispanic, or from another country—if you are used to a vibrant, bustling metropolis, this world will be small, it will have limited options for you to pursue yourself, and it is quiet.”
Marilyn Reizbaum, the Harrison King McCann professor of English, was part of a 1992 Subcommittee on Diversity and the ad hoc committee in 2008 that issued a report on increasing faculty diversity. She cautioned against seeing location as an impenetrable problem.
“I think [Bowdoin’s location] can be a concern, but sometimes it is an excuse— a self-fulfilling prophecy and productive of circular reasoning,” Reizbaum wrote in an email to the Orient. “Bowdoin is a desirable place to work and can be very attractive. There can be a directed address by the college to the diverse needs of a diverse community, which will be welcoming to faculty who are being recruited.”
Indeed, Purnell emphasized that despite Maine’s relatively homogenous nature, his personal experience as an African-American professor at Bowdoin has been largely positive.
“I feel supported in my work, I feel like I’m able to raise a happy healthy family, I’m able to teach my children about race and class in America, and difference, so I flow well here. That might not be the norm for everybody, but it is for me,” Purnell said.
“It’s a slow process, but I don’t know, this is the question I would have: what are the other schools doing differently to get there faster?” said Staci Williams Seeley ’90, who was president of the African-American Society during her senior year and President of the Alumni Council from 2010 to 2012. “And the answer can’t be ‘Maine is a white state.’ Vermont is a white state, Connecticut, there are places where there are NESCAC schools where there is far more progress. For a good opportunity, for the right opportunity, the right scholar is going to come along.”Other Approaches
Bowdoin has a program for Target of Opportunity Hires, which allow departments to hire outside of the normal openings if talented minority candidates come along.
“I would still maintain that we should have a target of opportunity process, but the hardest work should take place on the part of the faculty and that is hiring a diverse faculty pool through the regular search process,” Scanlon said.
The College is also part of the Consortium for Faculty Diversity (CFD), which sends post-doctoral fellows to schools around the country. Bowdoin currently has five CFD fellows, but according the Scanlon, the goal of the program is bigger than increasing Bowdoin’s faculty diversity.
“My thought about the CFD program is that it is a larger institutional commitment—that there are many people of diverse backgrounds who are not that familiar with the small liberal arts college,” Scanlon said.
Bowdoin usually does not have openings to offer CFD fellows full-time offers, but hopes that they will end up in a small liberal arts college.
“The CFD program is not as narrow as diversifying the faculty at Bowdoin, it is also about diversifying the professoriate,” Scanlon said. “It’s a commitment that Bowdoin makes that applies to Bowdoin, but it’s also larger than Bowdoin.”
Yale announced earlier this week that they would invest $50 million in an initiative to fund new minority faculty hires in all of the University’s schools. It joins other large universities that have made high-profile financial commitments to faculty diversity in recent years, including Columbia in 2012.
“We’re not Yale,” Scanlon said. “We don’t have $50 million, so we have to find our own ways, our own Bowdoin ways, to keep this alive and to educate people about the importance of diversity among the faculty, and have people feel like it’s a community effort.”
“I think we should always be on the lookout for new approaches and keep an eye on how other institutions are doing their searching and trying to retain faculty,” said William D. Shipman Professor of Economics John Fitzgerald, who has been at the College since 1983 and was the chair of the ad hoc group on increasing faculty diversity in 2008. “It’s an ongoing process. I don’t think there’s an end goal and I don’t think there is a silver bullet. It’s a matter of trying to continually improve how we operate.”Long-Term Commitment
According to Bowdoin’s Office of Institutional Research, 14 out of 119 tenured faculty in 2014 were minorities. The percentage of tenured faculty who are minorities has increased gradually over the past 10 years, but has been consistently below the overall percentage of minority faculty.
Part of the reason for this may be that while diversity is considered in the hiring process, it is not part of the tenure process.
“Tenure is based on excellence in teaching, distinction in scholarship and service to the College. So those are the sole criteria,” said Scanlon.
The fluctuations in faculty diversity are likely due to professors who are not brought to Bowdoin for the long term.
“The big concern is getting people who are tenured at the College. You can always have full time faculty and staff that come in for a year, maybe two, but if you’re not tenured, they’re not going to really have any vested interest in staying at the college for an extended period and that’s what it seems that Bowdoin still needs to work on,” said Karen Hinds ’93.Faculty Diversity Matters
Minority faculty members have been an important part of the student experience at the College.
“People bring a lot more when they’re trying to learn than just going from tabula rasa to informed individual,” said Purnell. “Some people have to work through more stuff than just mastering the material. It helps to have a mentor for some people… I think that’s a role that some minority students want, or need.”
“I certainly felt very cared for and nurtured and attended to by faculty of color, that they considered mentoring students of color, black students in particular to be part of the deal, part of their job. And they did it with a lot of skill and care and attention and time,” said Seeley.
In addition to personal mentoring, minority faculty serve as role models for students.
“I think it’s the same with when you see a woman in front of the classroom. It really encourages you—especially if you’re interested in academia, but really interested in any position of power, I think it’s so important to just have representation at the head of the classroom,” said Elina Zhang ’16.
Michelle Kruk ’16 agreed about the importance of the perspective that minority faculty can bring to students of color.
“They’ve been able to speak to me in a way that others haven’t,” Kruk said. “I’ve had faculty of color—not just at Bowdoin, but even in high school—who have seen that I’m not getting something, and then they’ll use an example from their life experiences, or from the experience they know will resonate with me, and then I’ll be like, ‘oh shoot, I got it, this is what this means.’”
The diversity of the faculty also impacts what kinds of courses the College can offer.
“Having faculty who are diverse in certain departments, it definitely encourages a diversity of students to pursue those disciplines, and that was really really important to me. I also think that it creates a more diverse course load—for example, when you bring in these new faculty members, they will teach courses that aren’t in the typical canon,” said Zhang.
Faculty also feel that diversity is also important for the College as a whole.
“It makes the college be part of the evolving diversification of the US. In part, to teach students an enhanced perspective is one of the objectives of the college, and a diverse faculty allows us to do that,” Fitzgerald said.
“People bring different things to the table, people bring different questions to what it means to learn and how to learn and what it is we need to learn. And so the richest intellectual environment will be one that is more diverse,” added Scanlon.
While some argue that a focus on diversity leads to lower standards, Rose doesn’t see it that way.
“This issue is not one of surrendering any of those standards. This issue is of doing the work to find the really great teachers and scholars of color and then to consider them in a real and robust way in the process,” Rose said.Here Having Been There
The protest on November 2, 1990 was organized by the Coalition of Concerned Students, a collection of students from different groups which included the African American Society, the Latin American Students Organization, the Bowdoin Women’s Association, the Bowdoin Jewish Organization and Bowdoin Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. They demanded action by recently-inaugurated President Bob Edwards and wanted a more diverse student body, a more diverse faculty and a gay and lesbian studies program.
The Coalition wanted a response to their demands by November 2, but after Edwards released a memorandum on October 31 that the students from the Coalition deemed “unacceptable,” they decided to protest. The demonstration was the culmination of discussions that started between the various groups earlier that year and were also catalyzed by the departure of one of Bowdoin’s two African-American professors, Gayle Pemberton, that summer.
Edwards met with five student representatives that day and released a statement with a plan that satisfied the students enough for them to stop the blockade.
Hinds (then Karen Edwards) was one of the students who met with Edwards that day, and said that faculty diversity important for the same reasons today that it was in 1990.
“Bowdoin needs to represent what’s going on around the globe,” Hinds said in a phone interview with the Orient. “And yes, Bowdoin is located in Maine and yes, it’s a difficult place to attract people to because of location and the weather and everything else that goes along, but if you’re a higher education environment you need to represent what’s going on in the world.”
In the fall of 1992, “The Report of the Subcommittee on Diversity” was released, which provided recommendations about recruiting more diverse students, improving the minority student experience and creating a more diverse faculty. The report listed Bowdoin as having the lowest percentage of minority faculty members amongst 16 other peer schools.
In 2014, Bowdoin had ninth highest percentage of minority faculty members in the NESCAC out of 11 schools, according to their respective Common Data Sets.
The report also set goals for gender diversity among the faculty and for the racial diversity of the student body. Last year, the faculty was 50.2 percent women; 15 years earlier, 37.4 percent of the faculty were women, according to the Office of Institutional Research. This year, 31.5 percent of students are minorities; 15 years earlier, 13.3 percent of students were minorities.
“We’ve definitely been slower [to diversify the faculty than the student body]. There’s a whole admissions office; there are mechanisms in place that have been in place for some time to increase student diversity,” said Scanlon.
One of the goals stated in “The Report of the Subcommittee on Diversity” in 1992 was that “The percentage of faculty members of color should equal that of minority holders of Ph.D.’s.”
In 2013, 22 percent of doctorate recipients in the life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and humanities were minorities according to the National Science Foundation.
“Pinning it to the number of PhDs, that’s arbitrary,” said Stakeman. “You have to take advantage to get every possible diverse faculty member you can.”What Does Success Look Like?
While “The Report of the Subcommittee on Diversity” in 1992 set specific goals, the College no longer uses numbers as benchmarks.
Zhang said that faculty diversity should reflect the diversity of Bowdoin students.
“The faculty demographic should be matching the student demographic, and it’s definitely not,” she said.
Others emphasized more intangible benchmarks of success.
“In a sense, you never achieve success. There is no number that you can get to or point to that is the kind of break even mark that you can say, ah, we have 10 faculty of color, it just doesn’t work like that. What you’re trying to do is create a campus and a faculty in which there are many many diverse viewpoints. How many diverse viewpoints should there be on the faculty? You can’t answer that question,” said Stakeman.
“We’re doing our work. That doesn’t mean we’re satisfied, that doesn’t mean we’re resting on our laurels— we’re in fact doubling down on the work that we have to do. Whatever the numbers say or don’t say, we’re doing the work we’re doing, not in response necessarily to a set of numbers, but in response to what we clearly know we need to do,” said Scanlon.
Scanlon suggested that no one measure will indicate when Bowdoin has achieved the level of faculty diversity it desires.
“We’ll just have a richer community, and we’ll know that we'll have a richer community, and we’ll find it less hard to do the work that we’re doing, and it will become a natural part of who we are and what we do,” Scanlon said.
Unlike many larger universities, whose budget increases are often due in large part to increasing costs of research, the vast majority of Bowdoin’s annual budget is devoted to the salaries and benefits of the College’s faculty and staff—those figures account for 63 percent of this year’s budget.
Thus, as the College adds new positions and the costs of benefits such as health care increase, many see few ways to prevent rising costs.
“This is a really people-driven product,” Director of Student Aid Michael Bartini said of what Bowdoin offers. “Unless the product changes, somehow we’ve got to be able to manage this.”Financial aid, another area where spending has increased dramatically in recent years, accounts for another 23 percent of spending. The remaining 15 percent is dedicated to a variety of expenses like utilities, equipment and travel costs.
“With 85 percent of one’s cost structure being embedded in people and financial aid, it’s a real challenge to figure out,” said President Clayton Rose. “It’s very hard to dramatically impact the increase in cost or the absolute cost by fiddling around with [the other] 15 percent.”Determining the comprehensive fee
As with most colleges, Bowdoin’s endowment subsidizes every student to an extent. For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the College’s budget worked out to about $81,000 per student, or about $20,000 more than what students without financial aid paid.
Schools have some discretion in choosing how much they ask students to pay because of this subsidy from their endowment. Some schools charge one fee for all of their students. Bates, for example, simply charges one fee of $62,540, without publicizing the individual costs for things such as room and board. Bowdoin, on the other hand, does not have an official comprehensive fee. Instead, the figure can be disaggregated into several individual costs: tuition ($47,744), fees ($468), room ($6,142) and board ($7,000).
Despite this, Bowdoin does pay significant attention to the total comprehensive fee.“The discussion of the comprehensive fee is very sensitive. We take it really seriously,” said Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer Katy Longley. “We spend a lot of time on trying to strike that balance between what’s the right amount to charge and what’s affordable.”
Over the past 20 years, the fee has increased by an average of about 4.3 percent annually; for the past five years, the College has held that figure steady at three percent. This is a slower rate than the growth of the College’s overall budget and the financial aid budget (which grew four percent and six percent from FY 2015 to FY 2016, respectively).
The result is that the proportion of the budget covered by endowment returns is increasing slightly. With the endowment returning 14 percent this year, this appears to be a viable strategy, but the long-term implications are less clear.
Longley emphasized that the College works year-by-year to determine the fee.“There’s no ten-year plan of what the comprehensive fee should be. There are certain assumptions in the budget, and we’ll model those out, but there’s no magic number,” said Longley.
The process of choosing how much to charge is, in part, an evaluation of the College’s costs and families’ ability to pay; however, peer schools also play a key role. Antitrust law prevents colleges from communicating about their current fees or salaries, but comparisons from past years are a factor in determining the comprehensive fee.
“We do look at what other colleges have charged—not that it necessarily influences us, but we are mindful of what others are doing,” said Longley.
In a group that the College uses to evaluate its fees including the rest of the NESCAC (except for Tufts) and other peer schools such as Oberlin and Swarthmore, Bowdoin’s comprehensive fee ranked third-lowest of 19 for FY 2015-2016. Its percentage increase for the same year tied for fourth.
What’s more, Bowdoin’s comprehensive fee is growing comparatively cheaper: in FY 2011-2012 it ranked eighth, while the percentage increase ranked second.Comprehensive fee as a symbol
Of course, with financial aid, Bowdoin students pay a wide variety of amounts to attend. Financial aid expansion has been a top priority at Bowdoin in recent years. In 2008, Bowdoin announced the elimination of all student loans, replacing them with grants. Today, about 46 percent of Bowdoin’s endowment is dedicated to financial aid. With financial aid spending increasing at a faster rate than the ever-rising comprehensive fee, Bowdoin is prioritizing accessibility to all students.
In spite of affordability in practice, a continually increasing comprehensive fee can be an intimidating message. It is difficult to quantify how many students are discouraged by the sticker price, but without a clear understanding of Bowdoin’s financial aid, some prospective students are likely turned off from the idea of attending Bowdoin.
“We know from our experience that we are meeting a significant number of students who are worried about the cost,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn. “When you can actually meet with those people and speak with them, you can accomplish something and tell them about Bowdoin financial aid. If they never get as far as meeting us or asking the questions, you don’t have that same opportunity.”
As a result, promoting the idea that Bowdoin is affordable and need-blind has been a major goal for the Admissions office.
“I don’t see difficulty in Bowdoin affording the financial aid expense for the students enrolled,” said Meiklejohn. “I think the bigger challenge is communicating the strength of financial aid program to students and parents who may be considering.”Financial Sustainability
Making Bowdoin affordable has continued to be an important issue in face of rising costs.“I think the big thing right now for us to think about is how we slow the rate of growth [of the comprehensive fee],” said Rose. “People need raises every year, healthcare costs are going up every year, we need to be sensitive to the needs of our staff and our faculty. But what can we do to slow the rate of growth down?”
With 85 percent of the budget devoted to financial aid and faculty payroll, the short-term options are limited. This year the budget for financial aid will be around $34.4 million, about six percent up from last year, according to the College’s operating budget for FY 2015-2016. Approximately 44.5 percent of the student body is on financial aid, which is funded by the endowment fund and alumni giving. The College draws a significant amount from the endowment for financial aid every year, and financial aid tops the list of categories of alumni gifts.
With all these various factors coming into play, it is uncertain how much the comprehensive fee will increase in the future.
“We’re going to be really digging into this in the months and years ahead here,” said Rose. “It’s a really important issue. A middle class family that is doing just fine—two parents that are working good jobs, if they’ve got one child or two children in college—those tuition bills, that becomes untenable, even at a very good middle class living. So that’s an interesting social question.”
On the surface, Bill De La Rosa ’16 seems like a typical Bowdoin student: he is active with the McKeen Center for the Common Good, conducts research in the sociology department, and usually stays up late finishing his work. But De La Rosa’s path to Bowdoin and his time at the College have been anything but ordinary.
In 2009, when De La Rosa was a sophomore in high school, his mother went to Mexico to obtain a green card. However, rather than receiving the necessary paperwork to remain in the United States, she was barred from the country for ten years because, years previously, she had overstayed a visa and crossed the border illegally. She cannot return to the U.S. until 2019.
“There’s no waiver, no appeal process,” De La Rosa recalled. He, his father and his three siblings are all American citizens, but this makes no difference in the world of immigration law, where intentions do not matter and exceptions do not exist.
The separation from their mother placed both emotional and financial stress on the family. De La Rosa’s elderly father was too old to work. His older brother, Jim, joined the Marine Corps to supplement the family’s income, leaving Bill to care for his two younger siblings.
“I [was] taking care of my siblings, worrying about their school, their food, the house, bills and also my own schoolwork,” said De La Rosa. “I somehow managed to do all these things.”
If the pressures of supporting his family meant less time for sleep or academics, it didn’t show in the classroom. He was the valedictorian at his high school in Tucson, Arizona.
Despite his academic achievements, the college application process presented another challenge.
“Even applying to college was a stretch for me, because both my parents didn’t even graduate high school,” he said.
Although he considered other schools, De La Rosa was drawn to Bowdoin’s Government and Legal Studies program as well as the liberal arts focus and commitment to the Common Good.When he was admitted early decision, he turned to his community back home to ensure his family would be alright without his day-to-day leadership.
“It [was] a matter of really solidifying the support that I would need, so that…my family could be okay,” he said.
The transition to Bowdoin was not easy. Even with all that the College has to offer, it does not distract De La Rosa from his family’s situation, and the 2,500 miles between Brunswick and Tucson do not lessen his care for them.
“I’m constantly worrying about what’s going on back home” said De La Rosa. “I’m spacing out and I can’t really focus because I’m like ‘How’s my dad? How [are] my siblings?’… It’s just a constant tug of war that I have to internally struggle with. Be here, but also be there. Two places at the same time.”
Although he is far from home, De La Rosa feels that he has found a strong support system at Bowdoin. “The counseling center is a great resource,” said De La Rosa. “I also have a lot of friends that I talk to, a lot of faculty members, a lot of staff members that are good friends that I just go to and I speak to them about these issues.”
Nonetheless, De La Rosa has excelled at Bowdoin. He received a Truman Scholarship, an honor which earned him $30,000 toward graduate school as well as a one-year internship with a government agency.
De La Rosa’s commitment to issues of immigration, as well as his passion and work ethic, are visible in his work throughout college, both in and out of the classroom.
A sociology and Latin American studies double major with a government minor, he has worked with humanitarian groups during the summer to provide aid to migrants journeying from Mexico to the United States.
His service work often relates back to his academic interests. His honors project examines the human effects of immigration policy based on interviews he has conducted with migrants. “Border policy has funneled people through hazardous portions of the border, specifically through the Sonoran desert, so I’m looking at that experience and how people live through that,” he explained.
De La Rosa co-leads the student chapter of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, which provides legal services to low-income Maine residents. He has also led an alternative winter break trip to Portland, where students worked with the Somali refugee population.
Next spring, he will lead another trip, this time to his home state of Arizona to expose Bowdoin students to immigration issues at the border.
The current European refugee crisis is one area that sparks his interest. Studying different migration scenarios might help him work in immigration advocacy or policy making in the future.
De La Rosa is also considering a career in politics someday. And despite his global mindset, it is a possibility that could take him back home.
“If I’d run for office, I’d probably do it in Arizona.”
When Bowdoin opened for the fall semester, members of the Class of 2019 weren’t the only new residents on campus. Kanbar Hall is now home to a number of rodents—specifically, laboratory mice used for Psychology 2752, Laboratory in Behavioral Neuroscience, a course taught by visiting professor Brian Piper.
Although mice are new at Bowdoin this fall, several animal species have lived in laboratories at Bowdoin for years, including aquatic invertebrates like lobsters and crabs, various kinds of fish and a colony of crickets. The precise species vary from year to year and depend on the research interests of professors.
“As the researchers, the visiting professors, come and go, we tend to have something that will come for a year, or two, or three, and then go away,” said Bowdoin’s Animal Care Supervisor Marko Melendy.
Melendy, who has been at Bowdoin for seven years after working in animal care at the University of New England and the California Academy of Sciences, oversees a number of Bowdoin students who work to maintain the welfare of all species living in Bowdoin’s laboratories.
Besides being fed and taken care of, these animals are critical to research in the biology and psychology departments.
In the classroom, animal models are used to pilot new research because they give researchers the ability to track each animal’s genetic background and limit the effects of external variables such as diet, exercise and social environment.
Students enrolled in courses that conduct this research are made aware early on of how they will be using animal subjects. The experience of handling animals in the lab is new for many students; however, many become comfortable with the process after extensive training.
“We have all different levels of comfort,” said Nancy Curtis, who is the lab instructor for Psychology 2752. “Some people come in, and they’re all afraid of the animals. They don’t want to touch them, and by the end of the semester, they’re handling them very well.”
The subject of animal testing rarely comes without controversy. After the Orient reported in 2010 that use of lab rats at Bowdoin included numerous behavioral tests and brain surgery, there was backlash from the Humane Society of the United States, which called on Bowdoin to end animal testing, as well as outrage from some members of the Bowdoin student body.
Although Bowdoin laboratories met—and continue to meet—legal standards, many students argued that animal testing was at odds with Bowdoin’s commitment to the Common Good. In particular, these students believed that conducting tests on laboratory rats, which would never be conducted on humans, was ethically inconsistent.
Risk of opposition frequently makes researchers who conduct animal testing hesitant to talk about their work.
Bowdoin has not hosted vertebrate research for several years until the return of mice to campus this fall.
Any laboratory work that occurs in Bowdoin facilities and requires animal subjects is strictly monitored by a group known as the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), a federally mandated committee which ensures that animal research complies with legal standards.
The committee, which includes several faculty members, Melendy and two veterinarians, is chaired by Professor of Biology Damon Gannon.
“The composition of the committee is regulated [in terms of] the number of people, and the backgrounds of those people,” Gannon said.
The job of the committee is to evaluate any research proposal that involves laboratory animals to ensure that it complies with federally mandated IACUC standards. These standards include an Animal Research Policy, which is written at Bowdoin but must also be approved at the federal level.
“We have to follow the federal Animal Welfare Act and various other regulations set forth by the National Institutes of Health and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare,” Gannon added.
However, the issue of ethics in animal research is hardly limited to a faculty committee. Students enrolled in classes that have an animal research component complete training not only on proper animal care and laboratory safety, but also on the ethical implications of their research.
“They also complete a two-hour lecture on the ethics of research of animals, and we go through the legal framework and the history of use of animals,” said Piper, whose class will be using the mice for research on anxiety medications later this semester. “We go through the history of uses, and in some cases misuse, of animals, and we recognize that use of animals in a laboratory environment is a privilege.”
Historically, animal testing has led to breakthroughs on vaccines and improved treatments for diseases such as HIV/AIDs and certain cancers. Curtis explained that mice allow researchers to control their experiment in a manner that’s simply impossible with people.
“If you buy some laboratory rats or some laboratory mice, when you get them, they come with a pedigree,” Curtis said. “You know that they’ve been well cared for.”
The instructors also believe that students, particularly those who seek to engage in laboratory work in the future, in the form of an internship, a private lab, or graduate school, benefit from working with animals in the laboratories here at Bowdoin.
“I think these are useful skills,” said Melendy.
Whether you are a prospective student, in town for Family Weekend, or just passing through Brunswick, the town has a lot to offer. The Orient editors picked a sampling of some of their favorite restaurants, sights, activities and places to stay near Bowdoin.Eat
Despite being a small town, Brunswick has a big restaurant scene. The restaurants cover a range of ethnicities, from inventive modern and international cuisine to classic Maine grub.
Fat Boy | 111 Bath Road, Brunswick | facebook.com/fatboydriveinAlthough the waitresses aren’t roller-skating to your car, Fat Boy is as old school as it gets. The ’50s style drive-in is a seasonal affair, with its fast food available from mid-March to mid-October. Try out a lobster roll, onion rings, and a 20 oz. frappe—a milkshake, for non-New Englanders—all for under $15. Don’t try to go on an opening weekend, as the parking lot gets packed—but that’s just a testament to how good it is.
Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Cash Only.
Frontier | 14 Maine St. Mill 3 Fort Andross, Brunswick | explorefrontier.comFor visitors looking for a farm-to-table feast with great views and a laid-back vibe, look no further than Frontier. This open-floorplan restaurant in Fort Andross that doubles as an art gallery and overlooks the Brunswick dam is a favorite among Bowdoin students and Brunswick residents. Everyone can find something to eat on this diverse menu. Dietary restrictions are also accommodated, as the menu has a detailed key for vegan, gluten-free, and antibiotic free choices. The selection ranges from simple sandwiches and burgers—which come with a healthy portion of sweet potato fries to substitute at no extra cost—to globally inspired charcuterie “marketplates” and larger entrees. Some of their best dishes include the taco trio of fried fish, barbeque pulled pork and Jamaican jerk chicken and the Frontier burger, replete with pepperjack cheese, shallots, and applewood smoked bacon. For the above 21 set, Frontier offers an inventive cocktail menu with items like the Mule 2.0: beet-infused vodka, ginger beer, and lime. Frontier also houses a small movie theater that shows independent films.
Open Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Shere Punjab | 46 Maine St., Brunswick | sherepunjabme.comStroll down Maine Street for long enough and you’ll find yourself observing diners in the windows of the always-busy Shere Punjab. The restaurant offers a wide variety of Indian food and drink in a cozy, intimate atmosphere, and take out is popular too. Customers choose a spiciness level for each of their dishes from 1-10, and the portions are generous. The saag paneer, a spinach dish, and punjabi naan, a bread with coconut, saffron and other spices, are highlights. The owners also sell their delicious spices in a store upstairs. If you’re in a large group, reservations are recommended—most tables are for two, and the wait for the larger ones can be long, especially on weekends.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (except for Tuesdays, when the hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.). The lunch menu is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Little Tokyo | 72 Maine St., Brunswick | littletokyomaine.comIt’s a slow Saturday night in town and you’re craving teriyaki chicken with a side of edamame...and maybe some avocado maki to boot. Little Tokyo, conveniently located right next to Gelato Fiasco, is the place to go. With affordable prices and delicious spices, this classy Japanese-style joint attracts Bowdoin students nearly every night of the week. With quaint tables for two, tables for larger groups, and the much sought-after Tatami room (perfect for parties), Little Tokyo has the dining facilities for every occasion. Need a tasty, healthy lunch on the go? Call and order a Bento Lunch option, which offers a wide variety of Asian cuisine in one affordable and delicious box. Little Tokyo brings a slice of Japan to Brunswick, Maine, with flair and teriyaki sauce. Don’t wait to satisfy that miso soup craving.
Open Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Gelato Fiasco | 74 Maine St., Brunswick | gelatofiasco.comNo dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) out on Maine Street is complete without a quick (or not-so-quick) trip to Gelato Fiasco’s flagship store. Gelato and sorbets range from the classics, like chocolate, vanilla and cake batter, to flavors like pomegranate chocolate chunk and caramel sea salt. My go-to flavor combination is dark chocolate noir and strawberry balsamic, but flavors rotate every day so there's always something new to try. You can taste as many flavors as you want, and the staff will pack any number of your favorites into any size dish. Make sure to join the Red Spoon Society (free gelato on your birthday!), and don't be afraid to make the trek down in the snow—you save one percent on your order for every degree that it is below freezing. If you're too cold for gelato, the hot chocolate is to die for, and it comes with a homemade toasted marshmallow.
Open daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Enoteca Athena | 97 Maine St., Brunswick, ME | enotecaathena.comWhether you’re looking for small bites or a full meal, Enoteca Athena never disappoints. Using locally-sourced and sustainably-raised ingredients, this restaurant transports you to the Greek Isles and Italian countryside with dishes such as cheese and olive platters, dolmathes, gyros, and pasta. Customers dine underneath the warm, soft glow of string lights, and for those over 21, the wine bar offers a delicious selection of wines, cocktails, and draft beers.
Open Monday-Saturday 3:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Visit Trattoria Athena, Enoteca Athena’s sister restaurant, at 25 Mill St., for more tastes of the Mediterranean.
Wild Oats | 149 Maine St. & 25 Burbank Ave., Brunswick | www.wildoatsbakery.comCome for the baked goods, stay because sometimes they forget to charge you for avocado. Wild Oats Bakery & Café’s Tontine Mall (Maine St.) location makes it the closer of the two locations to campus and an ideal weekend afternoon workspace. Students flock to the surprisingly well-spaced restaurant (outdoor seating available, weather permitting) for fresh, vibrant salads and sandwiches (ready made or made to order), smoothies (don’t get turned off by the kale one), soups (gluten-free and vegan options galore), and, of course, the sweets (you know you are truly loved when there is a Wild Oats Carrot Cake waiting for you on your birthday). The friendly and quick service is perfect for anything from a cookie on the road or a sit down meal with friends. Don’t stay too long, though, or you’ll end up with a delectable but four-times-too-large cupcake. Also, check out the smoothie bar at Wild Oats’ new, second location at Brunswick Landing (Burbank Ave.).
Maine St.: Open Monday-Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Burbank Ave.: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sundays.
El Camino | 15 Cushing St., Brunswick | elcaminomaine.comIf you’ve ever gone to the terrible website Yelp.com and looked up a Mexican restaurant in Maine, you’ve seen the following comment: “It’s a Mexican restaurant in Maine, so it’s clearly not authentic!” Is El Camino Cantina’s cuisine authentically Mexican? I have no idea. It’s delicious, though.
Just down the street from fellow Polar Bear haunts Beach Day Tanning and Atlantic Regional Federal Credit Union, El Camino draws in local sophisticates with kitsch-chic décor and "locally grown and sustainable raised produce, meats and seafood.” My friends and I go to eat a half-pound of nachos and get drunk on award-winning margaritas. Never before has cheesy, meaty goodness been this appealing to a discerning palate—especially this far north of the border.
Open Tuesday-Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Visit Flipside, El Camino’s sister restaurant at 111 Maine St., for local, organic pizza by the slice or pie.See & Do
Winter, spring, summer or fall, there is always something to do in or around Brunswick. If the weather cooperates, you can take in the great Maine outdoors but if it's a frigid winter's day, there is plenty to do inside too.
Farmer’s Market | The Mall in Downtown Brunswick | brunswickfarmersmarket.comWhen the snow melts away and spring breathes life back into the previously crinkly grass, the farmer’s market moves from Fort Andross to the lawn on Maine Street. Less than a 10-minute walk from the Polar Bear statue, the Farmer’s Market is the perfect place to enjoy some fresh air and support local business and farm to table foods. Representing over 30 different vendors, the market sells crisp produce, homemade breads, aged cheese, and artisan coffee. Spend time wandering among the decorative booths while eating fresh baked banana bread and chatting with the vendors before stocking up on snacks for the week. Just make sure to bring a reusable bag and plenty of cash, as most vendors do not accept credit cards.
Open Tuesday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. May through November.
Gulf Of Maine | 134 Maine St., Brunswick | gulfofmainebooks.blogspot.comEvery college town needs a good independent bookstore. In Brunswick, Gulf of Maine fills the role perfectly. While the store is tucked into a corner at 134 Maine St., it boasts an impressive amount of depth. The front of the store has a hippie, Maine outdoors vibe, featuring a interesting mix of postcards from local artists. Travel further inside to find an extensive collection of fiction, a large poetry section, plenty of children’s books, a variety of material from Maine writers, and much more. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and always happy to discuss books. Whether you’re looking to drop in for a peek or devote an afternoon to perusing the collection, Gulf of Maine is a consistently rewarding trip.
Open Monday-Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art | 9400 College Station, Brunswick | bowdoin.edu/art-museumWhen you’re wandering the Bowdoin quad, saunter on over to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The entrance isn’t too hard to find—just look for the Louvre-inspired modern glass building. Once inside, head on into the galleries, which you can access for free or with a donation. The gallery on the first floor changes every few months, and is always worth checking out. Most recently, the exhibition has featured trippy sci-fi and space travel-inspired art from Latin America. However, some real gems lie within the permanent collection, which is displayed upstairs. Be sure to take a look at the Assyrian reliefs from King Ashurnasirpal II’s Nimrud temple—one of them, depicting the king, was brutally defaced and roughly graffitied by 7th century BCE conquerors. Walk around and take a look at Bowdoin’s collection of Winslow Homer paintings, ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, and decorative arts—including an 18th century air pump. On your way out, stop by the gift shop which has a surprisingly good collection of jewelry and reduced-price posters from past exhibitions.
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Simpson’s Point | The end of Simpson’s Point Road, BrunswickOn a tour of campus, you might hear that Bowdoin is so close to the ocean you can smell the salt water sometimes. But when you’re looking for a glimpse of the sea, there’s no better place to go than the Simpson’s Point landing. Located four miles away from campus at the end of a scenic road, Simpson’s Point is a popular destination for runners and bikers (and students with cars) looking to escape the stress of campus. Take a plunge into the water in the warmer months or camp out on the coast with a burger, milkshake and good company on a starry summer evening (don’t forget the bug spray). In the fall, watch the sun set over the water and swim with the glowing bioluminescence. In the winter, venture out across the frozen surface on skis or snowshoes or plain old Bean Boots. And when spring comes around, take a seat on one of the rocks, feel the ocean breeze on your face and let your thoughts wander wherever they desire.
Rocky Ridge Apple Orchard | 38 Rocky Ridge Lane, Bowdoin | rockyridgeorchard.comRocky Ridge Apple Orchard, nestled in the midst of idyllic hay fields, epitomizes all that an ideal fall afternoon in Maine has to offer. From late August through October, Rocky Ridge offers sprawling orchards, laden with tasty apples of all kinds, ripe for the picking. Simply taking a stroll along the shady paths between the apple trees would make a trip worth it, but the fact that you can also take home a bag bursting with fresh apples only adds to the experience. However, Rocky Ridge doesn’t only do apples. The orchard also boasts a quaint cafe, stocked with homemade baked goods, quality sandwiches, and, wait for it, Cote’s ice cream. It’s also a great place to get Maine-made merchandise, including honey, maple syrup and hand-made soaps and hand creams. If possible, try to visit on a weekend, when Rocky Ridge offers horse drawn wagon rides around the orchards. Plan to end your trip just sitting on the patio soaking up the view of the orchard, while the kids play on the barn swing.
Open June-August on Friday-Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Late August-October every day 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Downtown Freeport | freeportusa.comIf you’re getting tired of sleepy Brunswick but don’t want to drive 30 minutes to Portland, the next small Maine town on your radar should be Freeport. About half the size of Brunswick, Freeport’s biggest attraction is the massive L.L. Bean flagship store and factory. Not only can you take a totally non-cliche photo sitting on the gargantuan Bean Boot outside, you can do it at any time of the day or night. The L.L. Bean store has your warm winter gear needs covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contrary to what people’s Instagram photos would have you believe, Freeport does extend beyond the L.L. Bean store, including a robust series of shops and outlets and the beautiful Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park. Freeport also has a Amtrak Downeaster stop in town, making it extremely accessible to Brunswick even if you do not have a car.
Bull Moose | 151 Maine St., Brunswick | bullmoose.comMedia junkies of all ages will find something they like under the blue awning of Bull Moose—perhaps no store in Brunswick crosses eras better than them. With an extensive collection of vinyl, as well as video games and Blu-rays, Bull Moose can nurture your inner hipster without sacrificing good graphics. Not a tech junkie? No problem. Bull Moose also carries books and board games, and single-handedly supports the gaming habits of the contingent of Bowdoin students who play Magic cards. Rotating racks of witty magnets will keep you entertained while you wait to check out, and the collection of bizarre gift items can hold you down for any White Elephant gift party. If you’re in Brunswick, Bull Moose is a must.
Open daily 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until 12:30 a.m. on Mondays.Stay
There are more than a handful of places to stay in and around Brunswick, but if you're coming during a busy campus weekend, make sure you book way in advance.
The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern | 4 Noble St., Brunswick | thebrunswickhotelandtavern.comRenting a room in The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern is about as close to campus as you can get without sleeping on a first-year’s futon. Situated on Maine Street just across from the north end of campus, the location can’t be beat. Opened in 2011, this hotel offers a more modern take on a rustic Maine retreat. It’s on the larger side—48 guest rooms and four suites—so slightly easier to get a reservation. If you’re here during the winter and can’t brave the short walk to town, the attached Tavern offers hearty comfort food (try the Lobster Risotto bites). As with most hotels in the area, rooms here fill up fast for graduation and parents weekend, so book far in advance.
The Brunswick Inn | 165 Park Row, Brunswick | brunswickbnb.comAfter sitting by the fire in the front parlor of this quaint New England inn, sipping coffee and gazing out on the town green, you’ll never stay anywhere else in Brunswick. Located only a few minutes from campus on foot, The Brunswick Inn is so cozy it almost feels like home. When you wake up, enjoy a delicious, complimentary breakfast, and before bed, unwind with a beer or glass of wine at the bar. The bedrooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, but there are only 16, so make a reservation well in advance.
Contributors: Julian Andrews (Bull Moose), Olivia Atwood (Little Tokyo), Sarah Bonanno (Farmer's Market), John Branch (Gule of Maine and Shere Punjab), Garrett Casey (The Brunswick Inn), Ron Cervantes (Downtown Freeport), Sam Chase (El Camino), Cameron de Wet (Rocky Ridge Apple Orchard), Jono Gruber (Wild Oats), Natalie Kass-Kaufman (Fat Boy), Emma Peters (The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern), Meg Robbins (Simpson's Point), Nicole Wetsman (Gelato Fiasco), Emily Weyrauch (The Bowdoin College Museum of Art) and Kate Witteman (Frontier).
Photography: Kate Featherston, Eliza Graumlich, Matthew Gutschenritter, Hy Khong, Meg Robbins and Parikshit Sharma.Interactive: Grace Handler and Matthew Gutschenritter.