Some may think that college and alcohol go hand in hand, but recently there has been rising concern on campus that alcohol has divided Bowdoin's social scene.
Early next semester, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) will sponsor a discussion that will explore the division between drinkers and non-drinkers on the social level and develop concrete solutions to bridge the alleged gap. Representatives from BSG, Residential Life, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, sports teams, Howell House, the health center, the counseling center, and the larger student body will participate in the discussion.
BSG President DeRay Mckesson '07 is concerned by the issue.
"The division between drinkers and non-drinkers is growing, and it will be unmanageable soon if we don't do something about it," he said in an interview with the Orient.
BSG is not the only campus group worried about the alleged rift between students. Safe Space, a sexual assault awareness group on campus, recently sponsored a discussion called "Alcohol as a Social Lubricant."
"Coming into college, you have a pre-conceived notion of what having fun at college is like," Carrie Roble '08 said during the Safe Space discussion held in Sills Hall last month.
To many students, this pre-conceived notion includes lots of drinking, while others imagine a social scene with little or no alcohol involved. Many agree that the social scene at Bowdoin is largely influenced by the presence of alcohol.
"One of the first interactions we had with our Quinby buddies was them asking us for beer money," Nick Dunn '09 said during the Safe Space discussion.
In an interview with the Orient, Rachel Dicker '09, a student who lives in chem-free housing, said that she does not think social houses are exclusive because everyone can attend events at them, even if many non-drinkers choose not to.
"It is an unintentional exclusion, and it can't really be helped if people don't go because they choose not to drink," she said.
Alex White '08, the president of Ladd House, thinks that social houses have a duty to provide the social scene that students expect.
However, White said, "It is the crucial responsibility of those upperclassmen who live in the house to recognize that not all expectations are the same and not everyone wants to drink."
Director of Residential Life Kim Pacelli '98, who was a student when the Greek system was a prominent part of the social life at Bowdoin, now works very closely with social houses and helps them plan events. While she recognizes the substantial role that alcohol plays in many social house events, she believes it is less of a focus in the social houses than it was in the Greek houses they replaced.
"I do think [the division alcohol creates between drinkers and non-drinkers] is a problem, but I don't think there is mal-intent behind it," she said. "College houses do a lot of different kinds of events."
These events include various chem-free activities that tend to be easily overlooked because of their small size.
Although Pacelli believes that the social houses already do a lot to accommodate drinkers and non-drinkers, she also thinks there is room for improvement.
"It is up to the people who want to see a change to help [plan events]," she said.
Residential Life has recently formed a subcommittee to examine its role regarding alcohol's presence in the social scene. According to RA Tucker Harrison '06, a member of the subcommittee, there are various ideas in the works about ways Residential Life could address the issue.
Ideas include conducting a survey or focus groups to give Residential Life a better understanding of students' experiences. Possible program ideas include setting up tables with statistics about alcohol and having students create a tapestry to express how alcohol has affected them.
Kat Anderson '08, who grew up in the Czech Republic, thinks that the problem is a result of the way our culture views alcohol. While in high school, Anderson often went out with a group of friends?some who drank and some who didn't, but, she said that "it wasn't a big deal."
Anderson believes drinkers and non-drinkers are more segregated in the social scene at Bowdoin than they were in the Czech Republic. She said that this segregation is caused because students often view drinking itself as an activity instead of an element of a different activity.
"We drank as part of going out, and here, going out is part of drinking," she said.