Lydia Hawkins '07 was half focused on an interview, half focused on the enormous stream of yellow shirts entering the Visual Arts Center.
"I only printed 100 flyers. I thought that would be enough!" she yelled to a friend.
A few yards away, it was becoming apparent that the College Republicans would not have enough space in the 80-seat Beam Classroom for all the people who wanted to attend Michael Heath's lecture. Seven minutes before the start time, they moved the audience to the 262-seat Kresge Auditorium.
Students still had to sit in the aisles.
How does the executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine manage to draw approximately 300 students, a handful of administrators, and Department of Security personnel on a Monday night?
By leading the drive to overturn Maine's sexual orientation anti-discrimination law.
Maine voters will cast their ballots on Question 1 in November. If successful, the vote will overturn a law passed earlier this year that makes it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment, and other areas on the basis of sexual orientation.
Heath, who was brought to campus by the College Republicans, successfully worked to overturn two similar anti-discrimination laws in the past decade.
For Heath, the law in question is not about discrimination. He opposes it because he says it is a stepping stone to gay marriage.
"Every state that has gay marriages or civil unions has this law first," Heath said. "The governor himself says, 'I want same sex marriage.'"
Heath gave a speech about the decline of Western civilization before beginning a half-hour question-and-answer session.
For the questioning, Heath was joined by Pastor Sandy Williams of the First Baptist Church of Freeport. Williams is also the chairman of the Coalition for Marriage.
The audience remained mostly silent while Heath gave his speech and started the question-and-answer session?Hawkins even held up a "no clapping" sign at the beginning of the event.
But then things started to heat up.
Williams said that if discrimination was widespread, he might support the law.
"I don't think the law is needed, I don't think it's wanted... I don't think it's needed because there is very little discrimination going on," Williams said.
"If there were massive discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, I might find myself on another side of the issue," he continued.
This evoked jeers and cries from the audience.
"We'll throw you out of here!" College Republicans Chairman Alex Linhart '06 shouted to one student.
Heath took back the podium.
"Bowdoin is better than this," he said. "Don't prove the speech right, okay? Don't prove it right by choosing not to be civil to this man?a man of the cloth."
"So just calm down!" he said.
Later, it was a student?and not the pastor?who came prepared with a religious message.
Margaret Fuller '06, who plans on going to divinity school, stood and took issue with Heath and Williams's stance.
"That's not a very Christian message, is it," she said. "What you're doing is setting a bad example for the church and turning people away from the church."
"Show me the verse that says we should be intolerant," Fuller said.
"I wish I'd brought my Bible," Williams responded.
Another student excitedly popped up and announced, "I brought one."
In a scene reminiscent of the choosing of the next contestant on television's "The Price is Right," the student rushed to the podium with the audience cheering her on.
After the event, Heath told the Orient that he was pleased with the talk.
"I thought it was great," he said.
Comments he wrote on his blog (http://www.mikeheath.net) the next morning were more subdued.
"It is sad to reflect back on the evening the morning after and realize how much misdirected passion was present in that room," he wrote.
"These students are from America's finest families and rank, I'm sure, among the most capable young people in the United States," he continued. "To think that an obscure defense of sodomy (adding 'sexual orientation' to the Maine human rights act) is the cause celebre among this age group is devastating."
When asked about a series of posters on campus that supported discrimination, Hawkins said she and a small group of students and faculty created the signs as an act of protest. The posters claimed to be sponsored by the College Coalition for Family Values.
That family values group does not exist.
Linhart said that his organization invited Heath to campus because it wants to expose students to a wide variety of conservative views. Not all College Republicans agree with the views of each speaker, he said.
"Please listen tonight with open minds and listen to what Mr. Health has to say," he said at the beginning of the event.
Heath?who earlier this month noted in his online newsletter that Hurricane Katrina moved in to New Orleans just in time to shut down a gay rights celebration?is just the most recent partisan political figure to be invited to the Bowdoin campus.
Liberal commentator Al Franken will speak at Bowdoin on October 1. Last year, the College Republicans played host to Vernon Robinson, who has been dubbed "the black Jesse Helms." In fact, today's issue of the Portland Phoenix newspaper has a feature story highlighting the rift between Bowdon's political groups.
That divide was evident all the way until the end of Heath's talk.
Heath closed the question-and-answer session with a prayer. The vast majority of students remained seated until Heath finished.
A few, however, stood up and walked away.