This week, we have compiled the most important stories from the decade pertaining to student life, the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), and athletics. We have pulled a selection of actual headlines from former issues, and condensed and synthesized stories relevant to each headline in order to showcase some of the most significant moments and enduring issues covered by the Orient. While our compilation is comprehensive, it is by no means complete. We encourage readers to pursue these headlines and others in our online archives, and to read our future installments of this series over the next several weeks.
Topics to come: A second installment of student life, college finances, admissions and reputation, environment and service, and Maine and Brunswick issues.
College cleared of liability in lawsuit, March 1, 2002
A jury found that the College "did not breach its contract" in its disciplinary proceedings with a student who sued the College over the verdict of a 1999 disciplinary hearing. The student, George Goodman '00, was originally brought to the J-Board for a March 1999 altercation, during which he acknowledged that he threw a snowball at a College van driven by Namsoo Lee '01.
According to a February 22, 2002 Orient article, Goodman and Lee began fighting, and Lee was treated for a broken nose at Parkview Adventist Medical Center. A J-Board hearing the following month concluded that "Goodman alone was at fault." Goodman was expelled, though he was allowed to complete his spring semester at the College.
According the Orient article, Goodman's law suit, originally filed in May 2000, claimed that his J-Board hearing had violated his civil rights by discriminating again him for being white and favored Lee as a citizen of Korea. This charge was dismissed by federal court in Portland in February of 2002. The court also dismissed Goodman's breach of contract charge, which Goodman argued had occurred when the College violated its contract with him as "described in the Social Code and student handbook." The College, however, stated that the student handbook was not a contract "capable of being breached."
As the three-year legal dispute was resolved, Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley said that the jury's verdict upheld the integrity of Bowdoin's judicial process.
"It would have been a lot more convenient for us to settle the case...but there's a principle at stake," he said.
J-Board case highlights free speech, bias issues, April 28, 2006
The Orient was able to report on the J-Board case of Ryan Helminiak '05 with exceptional detail in the spring of 2006, following Helminiak's decision to make his student disciplinary file and J-Board decision available to the Orient. Helminiak was brought to the J-Board on charges of placing over 1,000 religious pamphlets, or tracts, in library books.
Helminiak, a student assistant at Hawthorne-Longfellow Library in the fall of 2005, said that he placed most of the tracts—which focused on Judaism, abortion, and homosexuality, among other topics—while off-the-clock. Librarian Sherrie Bergman said that, though the library does not expressly prohibit student workers from distributing tracts, "she expected that student employees 'would understand that these activities are prohibited.'" Helminiak said that "he had hoped the tracts...would not be offensive." Several library patrons, however, reported feeling intimidated and upset upon finding the tracts.
Then-Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley said that the major charge against Helminiak was "for disrupting the orderly processes of the College," a violation of the social code. While Bradley asserted that Helminiak would be perfectly within his right to post the tracts on bulletins boards at the union, or to chalk portions of them on the sidewalks, "in the same way that we don't want people putting Papa Johns' coupons in the library collection or advertising for other services or products, you can't use the library collection as your vehicle."
Though Bradley decided to impose a $1,200 financial penalty and place Helminiak on social probation, Helminiak was "dissatisfied" with the decision and elected to have the J-Board hear his case. The board's recommendation was that Helminiak be placed on social probation in addition to a $250 fee to "provide for the purchase of 10 books." Helminiak, however, argued that his actions did not violate the social code, and that "those who oppose my action are either unaware of these values of the Bowdoin learning community, do not understand them, or are violating them."
Though Helminiak alleged that Bradley, in addition to Professor of Philosophy Scott Sehon and Professor of History Nicola Denzey "perpetrated anti-Christian discrimination in their classrooms," all three were cleared of discrimination charges. Helminiak, however, "due in part to the discrimination he feels he experienced," left Bowdoin after completing his coursework in December of 2005, and said he did not plan on returning to campus to graduate in May of 2006. Helminiak had already left Bowdoin once before, in the spring semester of 2002, on account of statements by professors that he had found "psychologically stressful" due to their anti-religious content.
Editor-in-Chief of the Orient in 2006-2007 Bobby Guerette recently noted that the Helminiak case provided unprecedented insight into the J-Board and administrative disciplinary processes as a whole.
"From my perspective, what happened in the case was less important than the fact that we got to see how the process worked," said Guerette.
Debate over freedom of speech created tension again on campus in March of 2009, after the a cappella group the Meddiebempsters were asked to remove posters advertising a show that used the Greek letters Phi Chi—the name of a former Bowdoin fraternity, as well as the title of a traditional Bowdoin fight song, according to a March 27, 2009 editorial in the Orient. The posters were removed at the request of Student Activities and Residential Life for their usage of Greek letters, and the a cappella group "responded with a public apology for 'their ignorance of the rule that stipulates that Greek letters cannot be posted on campus for advertising purposes.'" The Orient's editorial took issue with the censorship practices exhibited by the College, arguing that it was in opposition to free speech on campus.
A follow-up story in the Orient on April 3, however, reported that a letter from Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon and Director of Student Life Allen Delong said that "the College policy that prohibits fraternities does not prohibit the use of Greek letters," and in an interview the Orient, Delong said that members of both departments had misinterpreted the phrase referring to "activities related to fraternities" to include the use of Greek letters. McMahon added that a "chain of assumptions" had contributed to the misinterpretation.
McMahon and Delong also called attention to an unconfirmed statement made in the editorial claiming that the administration had "forbidden students from handing out the publication 'Q' in Smith Union." After investigation, the Orient found that there was "no clear evidence to support the statement made in the editorial."
BSG voices J-Board concerns, February 9, 2007
Members of the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) voiced concerns that "neither the BSG nor the campus community" were adequately involved in selecting new J-Board members, leading to a BSG initiative to increase BSG's role, especially in the early stages of the selection process. Later in the month, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster proposed forming a committee to re-evaluate selection, focusing on increasing the role of BSG.
The J-Board constitution conflicted with the BSG constitution on this very point. According to a February 16, 2007 article, while the Student Handbook section on "Judicial Authority" gives the J-Board "the exclusive authority to select new members" and "relegates the student government to a watcher's role," the BSG constitution "grants the body oversight of the J-Board selection procedures."
In addition, the BSG constitution also stipulated that the body could dismiss members of the J-Board, while the Student Handbook did not grant that power. According to a May 2007 Orient article, the two groups had attempted to reconcile the discrepancy between the two texts, and at the same time, the BSG passed an amendment allowing one appointed member of the BSG to become a full member of the Selection Committee with voting privileges.
A BSG member has continued to participate in J-Board selection in this capacity up through the present.
Bowdoin dining, quality of life earn praise in Princeton Review, September 19, 2008
Bowdoin's dining earned top marks in 2005 and 2006, holding the No. 1 spot on the Princeton Review list of "Best Campus Food" for two years in a row. In 2008, when dining held the No. 2 spot in the rankings, Director of the Dining Service Mary Lou Kennedy said, "We are proud to have been in the top 10 list in Princeton Review and recognized for excellence for many years...Our primary goal has always been to be No. 1 in the eyes of Bowdoin students."
Though in September of 2003 the Dining Service elected to drop its policy with Domino's Pizza—through which students had been able to deduct purchases from Domino's from their Polar Points balances—an additional meal, which would come to be known as Super Snack, was introduced in its place. According to the Orient article, the program was first charged to students' board plans at the rate of breakfast. A September 13 Orient article reported that the idea for the snack program was sparked by a BSG survey showing a "high demand for late night food service."
Though Super Snack proved to be highly successful over the years, a series of incidents with intoxicated students refusing to swipe their cards upon entry prompted the Dining Service to enlist the help of the football team with security in 2006.
IT releases Bowdoin dining widget online, September 23, 2005
Before the Dining iPhone app—created by Ben Johnson '11 and released in the fall of 2009—there was the widget, created by John Hall '08 and downloadable to Mac OS X computers beginning in September of 2005. The widget, which is still functional today, lists menu items for both Moulton and Thorne dining halls, and automatically updates its items based on time of day.
The community was saddened by a series of student deaths over the decade, beginning with the loss of Kathryn Anne Scott '06 in October of 2005, who died as the result of a car crash in New Hampshire. Friends and administrators spoke of Scott's "fearless creative spirit," her "quiet and unassuming" personality, and her skill and dedication as a dancer, in addition to her love of photography and acting.
In January of 2006, Taryn King '07 died while studying abroad through a Butler University program at the National University of Ireland in Galway. Though the cause of death was at first unknown, the Boston Globe later reported that it was septicemia. King, who had been a three-year starter on the field hockey team, had also received First-Team All-American honors from the National Field Hockey Coaches Association in her last season.
Also a standout lacrosse player, King's teammates called her "outgoing" yet "humble," and said that her personal qualities made her admirable both on and off the field.
"Everything about her was vibrant," said one teammate.
In January of 2007, Hanley Denning '92 was killed in a car crash en route to Antigua, Guatemala. Denning was the founder of Safe Passage, an organization based in Guatemala City that provides support and assistance to children. Denning died when the vehicle she was riding in collided with a speeding bus that swerved into oncoming traffic. While the community as a whole mourned Denning's death, those students who had traveled to Guatemala and worked with Safe Passage over the years were particularly affected. Colleagues and classmates called Denning "an incredible motivation and role model," and spoke of her "strong conviction" that resulted in a "new and safer path for others."
Nick Barnett '11 was killed in a car crash over Thanksgiving Break in November of 2007, in his hometown of Lexington, Mass. Though Barnett had only been at Bowdoin for three months, he was already known as a devoted friend and member of the sailing team. Floormates said that Barnett was "like a member of our family," and many mentioned "his sensitivity and ability to listen to others."
In an interview on Wednesday, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster said that the death of a student "is the hardest thing for a small community such as this." He added that he has become aware, during times of grief, how one student can be loved by so many.
"It really does show how intimate the place is and how interconnected it is," he said.
AWARENESS & DIALOGUE
Combating the silence surrounding sexual assault, April 15, 2005
The first SpeakOut event on campus, organized through a partnership with Safe Space and Sexual Assault Services of Midcoast Maine (SASSMM) in an effort to combat the lack of dialogue surrounding sexual assault at Bowdoin, occurred in April of 2005. The event featured three speakers, who shared personal stories of sexual assault, as well as additional stories from survivors read by Safe Space members. In subsequent years, Safe Space has continued to host the event, and each time attendees noted that it provided a startling glimpse into the frequency and specifics of sexual assault on campus.
Since 2005, students have also participated in Take Back the Night, an international walk sponsored by V-Day to support women subject to violence. Sexual violence, in particular, has been a focus for Bowdoin's events. In recent years, Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence (BMASV) and Safe Space have partnered with V-Day to present an event that reveals "how scary it can be to walk around Bowdoin at night," as well as to support those who have been affected by sexual violence.
Productions of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues also appeared with regularity over the decade. Though the performances, sponsored by V-Day, have varied in content over the years and new monologues have been added, the primary goal of each performance was to "open up the subject of violence against women," globally and at Bowdoin.
Silence ain't golden: express yourself, February 6, 2004
Over the years, there have been periodic attempts to motivate earnest student discussion about life at Bowdoin and beyond. A February 2004 Orient article reported that a Free Speech forum would be held that month, with discussions revolving around the "contentious Bowdoin subjects" of political belief, race, gender, sexuality, the College House System's effectiveness, politically-correct culture, religion and body image. Students and administrators said they hoped the event would oppose campus apathy, and establish conversations that would continue throughout the year.
In 2008, campus conversation formally resumed through The Undiscussed, a project that began as an independent study by Alyssa Chen '08 "seeking to promote discussion among students about issues of multiculturalism and identity," according to a February 1, 2008 Orient article. According to the article, discussion was enabled through dialogue circles comprised of eight to 12 random participants and one student facilitator.
In 2009, the program's focus was changed from topics of race to the broader topic of identity, in order to eliminate limitations on discussion. Eighty-six students in nine groups participated in The Undiscussed during the 2008-2009 academic year.
Class of '02 faces uncertain job market, March 1, 2002
Though seniors have had to contend with tough job markets in recent years, the economic recession following September 11 affected the post-graduation plans of seniors in 2002 as well, according to a March 1, 2002 Orient article. Then-Director of the Career Planning Center Anne Shields said that students appeared "to be taking a significant shift toward teaching, non-profit, public interest and government sectors," in addition to exhibiting greater interest in private school teaching and alternative certification for public school teaching.
Over the summer of 2002, Shields added that a number of organizations, particularly consulting firms, had alerted the College that they did not anticipate being able to hire new employees for the coming year. By the spring of 2003, however, several of the firms had notified Bowdoin that they would be able to network on campus after all.
Breaking into the finance job market again proved difficult for seniors, according to September 26, 2008 Orient article. Seniors interested in finance jobs prepared "for a very scaled-back recruiting season" after companies Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank cancelled on-campus recruiting events. One financial recruiter explained to students that the upcoming year would be a difficult one because "the financial institutions themselves are in question."
Though also a competitive program to crack, Teach for America (TFA) has seen surges in applicants from Bowdoin over the years. According to a March 27, 2009 Orient article, TFA was the top employer of Bowdoin graduates in 2007 and 2008.
College cited for Fulbright success, November 5, 2004
A November 5, 2004 article reported that the College was cited in the Chronicle of Higher Education for receiving the most Fulbright grants for the 2004-2005 year, with four students receiving awards. In subsequent years, students continued to exhibit enthusiastic interest in the grants, with an average of four or five students successfully attaining an award each year.
Students applied to fellowships in record numbers in 2009, according to an October 23 Orient article. According to the article, there was a 40 percent increase in the number of Fulbright applications from the 2008-2009 school year to the 2009-2010 year, with 28 students who applied compared to the previous year's 20. Interest in Watson Fellowship also saw a considerable 73 percent increase in applications, from 11 applications the previous year to 19 in 2009-2010. Director of Student Fellowships and Research Cindy Stocks said that she believed the economy played a role in increased interest, as students were "smart enough to put their eggs is many baskets."
Recent grads stay in Maine after Bowdoin, October 17, 2008
Figures provided by the Office of Alumni Relations revealed that 159 alumni from the Classes of 2000 to 2008 were working in the state of Maine in October of 2008. According to the article, nearly 1,500 Bowdoin alumni in total were living and working in Maine at the time.
An incentive program for students graduating from Maine colleges and universities to remain in Maine was launched in January of 2008. According to a November 2, 2007 Orient article, the Bowdoin Democratic Left sponsored a panel on campus to raise awareness about the program, called Opportunity Maine, as "encouragement for students concerned about increasing tuition rates and the burden of paying off loans after graduation.