Talk of the Quad: The Old Boys didn't like it
What is a college president there to do?
Willard Enteman began his term as Bowdoin’s 11th president in 1978. Enteman was new to Bowdoin—a Williams graduate in the midst of an academic career as a philosophy professor. In his first semester at Bowdoin, he moved quickly to engage with two of the dominant political issues facing the College. He appointed one committee to look into gender discrimination at fraternities (in other words, the fact that many did not allow women to be full members) and another to examine the possibility of divesting the College’s endowment from companies involved in apartheid South Africa.
Progress was slow. By 1980, a three-sided conflict at Bowdoin had developed between the Governing Boards (of which there were two at the time), the Faculty, and Enteman. Fraternities remained male spaces and the College had divested from nothing. Another controversy arose over faculty salaries, as the College was forced to make tough budgeting decisions in an era of double-digit inflation.
During the summer, the Boards appointed a secretive committee to review Enteman’s performance. In October, the Faculty passed a resolution condemning the “corporate procedure” of the review. On November 10, Enteman resigned.
At the time, many students and faculty at Bowdoin were frustrated by the mysterious circumstances surrounding the conflict.
“The Enteman affair is exemplary of the way things are usually handled at this institution—improperly,” read a stinging editorial in the Orient published the week of the resignation.
The Governing Board’s review was published on November 22, but even then little detail was given about the specific gripes board members had with the president. For his part, Enteman told the Orient at the time, “There is a certain level of support a President needs to have, and I got to a point where I was not receiving that support.”
A quote given by Lawrence Hall, an English professor, to the Harvard Crimson at the time gives some clues about where the conflicts lay. Hall told the paper that the president had "tried to withdraw the college's investments in South Africa, delivered a pay raise that the faculty was promised a long time ago, and he insisted that women be allowed to join the fraternities,” and said that “The old boys didn’t like it.”
Enteman returned to academia after his resignation, taking a position at Rhode Island College and teaching at various other institutions. Thirty-five years later, the gritty details of his departure remain frustratingly elusive: Secretary of Development and College Relations John Cross ’76, who acts as the College’s historian, told me that he knows little about the events because the relevant documents in the Bowdoin archives are still sealed.
Enteman is retired now, living in Providence, R.I. I reached out to him because I was curious to hear about his time at Bowdoin and his departure from his perspective. He was kind enough to correspond over email even though he was recovering from a recent surgery.
“I should warn you that I have nothing nasty or scandalous to say about Bowdoin then or now,” he wrote. “I left Bowdoin as I joined it: filled with admiration for the very positive and nearly magical educational success achieved by faculty and students working together.”
We weren’t able to speak in much detail about his time at the College, but his dedication to applying an academic lens to every facet of his work struck me.
“I remember after one speech I gave early in my time at Bowdoin, a faculty member came up to me and said that he thought liberal education was like a religion for me,” he wrote. “I saw the divestment issue in that context. I thought if we were going to engage that debate, we should do so in the context of liberal education.”
In the context of the debates surrounding divestment now—and many other debates about the College’s policies today—there is something subtly radical about this idea. Like it is at many colleges and universities, the presidency at Bowdoin is as much about organizational and financial management as it is about in-the-weeds academic policies and ideas. Barry Mills came from a background in law, and Clayton Rose comes from finance; each has worked to apply the managerial skills from those backgrounds to the high-powered institution with a complex bureaucracy that Bowdoin is.
To their credit, both also seem to have worked hard to maintain a campus culture that takes the ideals of a liberal education seriously. But there’s a distinction between being a facilitator and an active participant, and your answer about which is better probably depends on who you are. Clearly, the facilitators have been able to accomplish more at Bowdoin than Enteman was. Clearly, someone like Enteman was willing to approach issues like divestment from a philosophical perspective in a way that his more recent successors have not.
Things that happened during Enteman’s brief tenure reverberated—and are still reverberating—in the years after he left. The College required fraternities to go co-ed in 1982, less than two years after Enteman’s departure, and moved further by requiring them to give women equal standing in 1991. In the 1980s, the College’s bylaws were amended to require a committee that considered the social responsibility aspects of Bowdoin’s investments. That committee was dissolved in 1998, but the debates over fossil fuel divestment in recent years have often referenced those about South Africa.
In a column in the Orient last semester, Maya Reyes ’16 pondered how little the College discusses Franklin Pierce and asked for “more conversations about the actions and products of Bowdoin that we aren’t so proud of.” When it comes to Willard Enteman, I have a different, if related, ask: I want Bowdoin to be proud of him and what he stood for as a president.
Many of the questions the College faces today—about where it invests, about the social inclusion of historically marginalized people—came to a head during Enteman’s tenure. Enteman may not have been at the College long, but his presence had a lasting effect on how Bowdoin approaches social and political change. However, for such a historically significant figure, he seems to be largely forgotten.
Think about it this way: it’s hard to go four years at Bowdoin without committing the names of most of the College’s presidents to memory without even trying. Their names are attached to locations most of us know and frequent from our first months here: Appleton and Hyde Halls, Coles Tower, the McKeen Center for the Common Good, and on and on.
The decision to name one building after any one person happens on an individual basis, but collectively they’re an important part of the way that institutional memory functions at a place like Bowdoin. A name attached to a part of Bowdoin’s physical landscape is not an endorsement of every facet of that person’s character, but it is an indication that the namesake is part of a group that made a significant contribution to Bowdoin’s past.
Presidents who came after Enteman have something to their names. Greason might be stuck with the pool, but it’s better than nothing. Bowdoin’s newest academic building is named for Edwards, and it’s hard to imagine that Mills won’t have a building before long. But there’s no Enteman Hall, or Enteman Auditorium, or Enteman Center.
It doesn’t have to come in the form of a building, but it should come from somewhere. We owe it to ourselves to reckon with the legacy of Willard Enteman—and the old boys who didn’t like it.
John Branch is a member of the Class of 2016.
Bowdoin intends to acquire last remaining non-campus property on College St.
Bowdoin may soon have another new property on its hands. The College has confirmed that it is looking to acquire the house located at 28 College St. The house was listed for sale on Thursday with an asking price of $1.6 million.
“The house is for sale, the College has an option to acquire it and we intend to acquire it,” said Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley. If the College does acquire the house it will own all of the real estate on College St., which cuts through the heart of campus. The house is located directly next to the Multicultural Center at 30 College St.
A controversy arose when the house was originally listed for a price of $3 million in the spring of 2014. The listing agents at the time claimed that Harriet Beecher Stowe had written the “bulk” of her famous book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” in the house, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Bowdoin pushed back, arguing that the historical evidence suggested that the book was written at two buildings presently owned by the College: Appleton Hall and the recently-renovated Harriet Beecher Stowe House at 63 Federal St.
“As far as documented evidence goes—now by documented evidence I mean Stowe’s correspondence and that of the family members that lived in the house with her—the book was written at 63 Federal Street where she lived for about two years, from 1851 to 1852,” Associate Professor of Africana Studies and English Tess Chakkalakal told the Orient at the time.
The house was originally listed in 2014 by a real estate firm in Beverly Hills, California. One of the listing agents at the time, Karen Nation, told the Press Herald that the house might be of interest to a celebrity buyer—“Maybe an Oprah Winfrey type.”
The current listing for the house stops short of definitively asserting that Stowe wrote the bulk of the novel there. However, it does read, “It is claimed and attested to that this is the home that Harriet Beecher Stowe sought in refuge to write “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
This time, the house’s listing agent is David Jones, of the Falmouth-based F.O. Bailey Real Estate. Jones said in an interview with the Orient that the College has a contract containing the right of first refusal to acquire the house, which was built in 1780.
According to Jones, he has not yet spoken with anyone from Bowdoin. He said he expected to be in contact with the College by sometime next week.
Stereotyping at ‘tequila’ party causes backlash
For the third time in just over a year, an incident of ethnic stereotyping by Bowdoin students at a party has ignited campus-wide tensions, frustrations and pain, and prompted an institutional investigation in response.
In the latest incident—a “tequila”-themed birthday party in Stowe Hall last Saturday night—some students wore sombreros, according to a student who attended.
A screenshot taken from the email invitation showed the event being referred to as a “tequila” party and read, “we’re not saying it’s a fiesta, but we’re also not not saying that :) (we’re not saying that).”
Several Mexican and Mexican-American students expressed exhaustion and frustration at the public comment time at Wednesday night’s Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) meeting. “As a senior who has seen multiple racist incidents at this college, I’m at the point now where I’m really, really tired,” said BSG Vice President for Student Government Affairs Michelle Kruk ’16.
“What happened last weekend completely distorted what I stand for, what I embody and what I fight for. That was wrong, especially in light of what happened last semester,” said Bill De La Rosa ’16.
Last semester, the sailing team’s “gangster” party, where students wore costumes of stereotypical African-American apparel and accessories, prompted a wave of conversation and protest about issues of race on campus. In fall 2014, the lacrosse team’s “Cracksgiving” party, where students wore Native American costumes, resulted in the discipline of several individual students.
On Wednesday night, BSG followed a precedent set after the “gangster” party last fall by urging the student body to attend its public comment time during its weekly meeting to discuss the incident and passed a statement of solidarity offering support for those affected.
The statement passed by the BSG, in addition to condemning the incident, offered several recommendations, including that the administration address bias incidents and the hurt caused by them more quickly and that the College develop a standardized process for punishing students involved in these incidents.
Two major additional recommendations were added to the draft after public comment time. The first encouraged the College to acknowledge the time pressures on students of color tasked with responding to such incidents. The second recommendation, inspired by a new course on Black Lives Matter at Fairfield University, recommended that the Office of Academic Affairs play a role in punitive measures for offending students by mandating academic work in certain subject areas.
At the public comment time, De La Rosa voiced frustration that a BSG member allegedly attended the party.
“That is disgraceful. That is shameful. Especially because you’re elected by the student body, not to represent a certain group, but the student body,” said De La Rosa. “I encourage the BSG to do something about this—to put a bylaw starting whenever, next year, that you are all elected to represent the student body, and that there should be some sanctions, some consequences, for those that partake in behavior like this.”
“We have asked over and over and over, and the thing we’re asking for is just basic respect,” said Catalina Gallagher ’16.
“I have spent at least five hours talking about this. That’s so much of my time,” said Raquel Santizo ’19, who is on the board of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO). “I’m a first year, I should be doing first-year things."
BSG concluded the meeting by setting up an ad-hoc committee to draft an amendment to either the BSG’s bylaws or its constitution to address situations when members of the assembly break the social code.
Of the students who spoke at the meeting, none defended the party’s theme or said that they had attended.
Several members of LASO discussed meetings that they had held with administrators. A student who attended the party confirmed to the Orient that many of those present at the party had been involved in meetings with the Office of Student Affairs as well.
The administration has not yet announced how or if it will respond to the incident.
An email to campus from Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster on Monday night announced that his office was “in the process of investigating what we have learned from students and from posts on social media.” Foster asked students with information about the event to contact him or Leana Amaez, associate dean of students for diversity and inclusion.
In an email to campus Wednesday night, President Clayton Rose did not refer to the specifics of last weekend’s incident, but wrote broadly that further work needs to be done to make students of color welcome on campus and condemned insensitive posts on the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak.
Foster declined to comment on the incident to the Orient, pending the results of the investigation. Amaez did not respond to requests for comment.
Administrators have largely moved away from the language of “cultural appropriation,” which was used in official emails after the Cracksgiving incident and has still been a common topic of debate on Yik Yak. Foster’s email referred to “ethnic stereotyping,” while Rose’s referenced an “act of bias.”
Editor's note (2/26/16 at 11:30 a.m.): It was originally reported in this story's second paragraph that students wore "stereotypical Mexican garb including sombreros." That paragraph has been updated to clarify that sombreros were the only stereotypical attire reported by the student who attended the party.
Legislators call for details about College’s endowment
As its endowment has ballooned in recent years, Bowdoin has joined a small group of private colleges whose endowments exceed $1 billion. Now, Bowdoin and its peers are facing questions from congressional Republicans about the operations and tax statuses of those endowments. In a letter dated February 8, the chairs of two House and Senate committees—Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressmen Kevin Brady and Peter Roskam—asked President Clayton Rose to answer 13 questions concerning Bowdoin’s endowment. Presidents from 55 other colleges and universities received the same letter.
The letter requests that responses be completed by April 1.
As of last September, when Bowdoin’s endowment figures were last made public, the College’s endowment sits at $1.393 billion and returned 14.4% in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014-15. It has performed well above average in recent years, earning the “Endowment of the Year” award from the finance magazine Institutional Investor in 2014.
The letter states that the goal of the survey is “an inquiry into the activities of colleges and universities related to the numerous tax preferences they enjoy.” It notes that despite “large and growing endowments, many colleges and universities have raised tuition far in excess of inflation.”
The questions comprise of four categories: “Endowment Management,” “Endowment Spending and Use,” “Donations” and “Conflicts of Interest.”
Many of the questions asked in the letter concern procedures for determining how much of the endowment a college can spend. According to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley, Bowdoin’s policies allow it to spend between 4 and 5.5 percent of the endowment’s estimated value annually.
In FY 2015-16, 32 percent of the College’s operating budget ($48.7 million) is planned to be funded by the endowment. According to Longley, the largest program funded by the endowment is financial aid, 66 percent of which will be paid for with funds from the endowment.
As a nonprofit institution, Bowdoin does not currently pay taxes on its endowment. For now, college administrators are working on answering the letter’s questions and are reluctant to speculate about what the implications may be.
“We’ve been asked to provide information to the Senate and House, and we’re going to comply with that,” said Rose. “There’s no [action] that’s on the table at the moment.”
This is not the first time a legislative committee has requested information from Bowdoin. Senator Chuck Grassley made a similar request of private colleges and universities in January 2008, largely concerning tuition and financial aid. Bowdoin was included in that request, according to Longley.
Bowdoin made no direct changes as a result of that investigation; it was one of many schools to replace its tuition loans with permanent grants around the time of the request for information. For now, it is unclear what course of action the legislative committees plan to pursue with the information they receive. College administrators are withholding judgment until such a plan becomes clearer.
“I’d rather wait and see what kind of bill they come up with, and then we could say ‘Yeah, we think it’s good,’ or ‘It’s a bad idea,’” said Longley. “Congress is looking at all sorts of revenue sources, and endowments over the threshold of a billion are something they’re looking at as well.”
Rose hires researchers to study race at Bowdoin
President Clayton Rose announced plans last week to hire outside researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University to conduct a study on the experiences of students of color at Bowdoin. In an interview with the Orient this week, Rose spoke in more detail about what the study will encompass and how its results will be used.
Camille Charles, a professor of sociology, Africana studies and education at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead the project and be assisted by Rory Kramer, an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Villanova University.
The project is scheduled to be completed by May, at which point a written report of the researchers’ findings will be made available to the campus community. Rose said that while he plans for conversations surrounding the report to take place on campus following the report’s publication, he was not yet sure when those would happen or what form they would take.After the report is released, Rose said, an internal process will begin for determining which of the recommendations to act on and how to go about doing so.
Rose said that Charles is being paid by the College for her work on the project, but did not give an amount. He said that he made the decision to hire Charles and Kramer independent of the Board of Trustees, but that the board is aware of the project.
According to Rose’s announcement, the study aims to answer three broad questions: how students of color experience life at Bowdoin differently from white students, what policies and practices contribute to these differences and what strategies the College could pursue to improve the experiences of students of color.
“Those of color in our community experience Bowdoin differently than those who are white; the difference can be profound and occurs in every aspect of our lives here,” Rose wrote.
Rose’s announcement comes after a semester of events that have sparked discussions surrounding incidents of racism and structural racial inequality at Bowdoin and other campuses across the country. At Bowdoin, the “gangster” party held by the sailing team in October and a series of controversial anonymous posts on Yik Yak led to protests and wider discussions of the role that race plays on campus.
“Without getting after institutional structures and really understanding the barriers that exist or the mechanisms that you can use to facilitate it, you will only make limited progress,” Rose said in an interview with the Orient. “There is also a deep temptation to react very quickly and throw lots of things at the problem without understanding the root cause of the problem.”
In response, Rose said, this project seeks to understand the racial issues facing Bowdoin in a systematic way. Charles and Kramer will be given quantitative data about the College to analyze, and will also make qualitative observations during in-person visits to speak with students, faculty and staff.
Bowdoin faculty will likely be interviewed by the researchers for their perspectives, but will not act as researchers in the study.
“I do want to give Professor Charles the opportunity to be someone who comes from the outside and gains an understanding of this place,” Rose said.
Charles, who declined a request for an interview from the Orient, will continue to teach a full slate of classes at Penn. However, Rose said, she plans to make visits to Bowdoin for “a bunch of days at a time.”
Charles knew Rose when he was a student in her department at Penn and she served as a reader for his Ph.D. dissertation.
“She is uniquely suited among all scholars that I know or know of in the United States to help us. Her work on racism is among the best in the country, and she works at the intersection of race and higher education, and in particular has looked at liberal arts colleges,” Rose said.
Students to vote on creation of BSG Multicultural Rep
On Wednesday, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) unanimously voted to pass a resolution in support of creating the position of Multicultural Representative, an addition to the BSG assembly that would serve as a liaison between the Multicultural Coalition and the BSG.
For the position to officially be created, the BSG constitution must be amended. To do this, a third of the student body now has to vote—and within that group, two-thirds have to vote in favor of the amendment. Students will be able to vote from December 9 to 12 on the constitutional amendment creating the position online.
If the amendment creating the position passes, each group of the Multicultural Coalition, which consists of 17 campus groups, will have one vote for the representative in early February, choosing from within the membership of any of the multicultural clubs.
“The Multicultural Coalition, and the student groups within, along with the Student Center for Multicultural Life do a lot of programming around race and culture,” said Evelyn Sanchez ’17. “We feel a lot of these events are attended by the same people who happen to be students of color. We feel that a lot of other students could greatly benefit from the events and would like to if only greater organizations such as BSG advertised them.”
Sanchez, who organized campaigning around the Multicultural representative, referenced the success of the events of No Hate November.
“We also think that having the Multicultural rep be there will allow for these issues to be addressed proactively, rather than reactively,” Sanchez said. “[Programming] can be throughout the year and not just allotted to a month or week, not just allotted to No Hate November.”
The proposal for the position was originally introduced to the BSG last year by Kiki Nakamura-Koyama ’17 and Charlotte McLaughry ’15. However, it was not voted on at the time due to logistical issues.
“We got the proposal from last year, looked it over, reworked it, edited it to make it more relevant to what’s happening now,” said Michelle Kruk ’16, BSG’s vice president for student government affairs.
“Historically, the BSG has not been as diverse and has not been as active in these issues, but we do think by having a rep, we can guarantee that institutional, systemic response to these issues because we can hold someone accountable to that,” Sanchez said.
Kruk agreed, emphasizing the permanence that the position gives to multicultural voices in BSG.
“I don’t think that the programming we do around multicultural life is enough, nor is it sustainable. It changes depending on who is doing the programs or who’s on campus that year,” she said. “I want some permanent legacy here, to be able to say that regardless of whether or not we have a diverse body within the student assembly… there will be someone on the assembly whose job it is to bring these things up.”
Students attend demonstration in Portland
Stand in support of other colleges protesting racism
Dozens of Bowdoin students traveled to Portland last Friday night to attend a demonstration in support of students protesting racism at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) and other schools around the country.
The demonstration, held in Portland’s Monument Square, was attended by around 100 people, and attended by activists from Bowdoin, the University of Southern Maine (USM) and elsewhere. It was organized by a USM student group called Students for #USMFuture.
Two Bowdoin students, Ashley Bomboka ’16 and Michelle Kruk ’16, spoke at the rally about the importance of institutional change, solidarity with activists at other schools and the role of allyship. Afterward, they led a march along Portland’s Congress Street from Monument Square to Longfellow Square and back.
The protest came in response to high-profile controversies involving racism at Mizzou, where the president resigned following a series of racial incidents and subsequent protests, and Yale, where an administrator’s email about offensive Halloween costumes and a fraternity party which reportedly turned away students of color sparked discussions about institutional racism.
Bowdoin, meanwhile, has been involved in visible racial controversies of its own after the “gangster” party last month, in which some members of the sailing team publicly wore outfits caricaturing African-American stereotypes.
Some students questioned the administration’s response to a series of Yik Yak posts that offended many students in the week following the “gangster” party. Posters criticizing the Yik Yak posts and asking for policy changes were placed outside the offices of President Clayton Rose and Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, as well as other prominent locations on campus. A silent protest was held in Smith Union the next week.
Many students participating in the Portland protest last Friday saw the event as an opportunity to connect the events happening at Bowdoin to questions of racism at colleges and universities on the national stage.
“It’s so apparent that it’s not just a problem that Bowdoin has or a problem that Mizzou has,” said Caroline Martinez ’16, who attended the protest. “It’s so many colleges that are complaining about it and having a hard time with knowing how to address it, and most administrators don’t know what to do.”
Bomboka said that, while she expected a bigger crowd, she felt that the event was a success. She estimated that about 50 of the protestors were Bowdoin students.
In the march, demonstrators chanted and held signs with messages like “No justice, no peace” and “Black lives matter.” Many students thought the public nature of the protest in downtown Portland was significant.
“When we were walking past various restaurants in downtown Portland, people who were eating dinner were getting up and looking out the window and were very clearly interrupted, which is cool, because it’s a whole new demographic that perhaps wouldn’t have been made to be cognizant of this issue,” said Maria Kennedy ’16.
Kennedy said that she attended to “show solidarity with students at Mizzou, but also at Bowdoin and around the country who are going through a lot of bad things, particularly right now, and show my support for their movement.”
“People all over the country—not just all over the country, but outside the U.S.—are showing their support to Mizzou, and I wanted to do the same thing,” said Martinez, who added that many of her friends are students at Mizzou.
Martinez emphasized the opportunity that the demonstration provided for Bowdoin students to protest in a new way.
“It was good to see Bowdoin students there with other people being so strong, chanting very loudly and encouraging each other, because I think Bowdoin is a place that can be very polite and superficial, and sometimes it can be hard to show that amount of energy,” she said. After the protest, Martinez said, “The first thing I thought was, OK, we need to bring this to the dean’s office.”
The slow and unsteady growth of faculty diversity
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.
‘Gangster’ party spurs debate over racism on campus
Controversy over racism and cultural appropriation at Bowdoin has been reignited by a “gangster” themed party held by the sailing team last Thursday and anonymous online discussions following the incident.
Following the event, several team members were seen at Super Snack in Thorne Hall wearing costumes of stereotypical African-American accessories and styles, including hair braided in cornrows, baggy clothes and 1980s hip-hop style bucket hats. While there, they were confronted by a group of students who found the costumes offensive.
The party came less than a year after the well-publicized “Cracksgiving” incident, in which members of the lacrosse team dressed in Native American costumes at a Thanksgiving party last fall.
“People are grieving, people are frustrated, people are angry,” said Ashley Bomboka ’16, president of the African-American Society (Af-Am). “I think, especially after ‘Cracksgiving,’ a lot of people in Af-Am—and allies of the Black community at Bowdoin in general—believed that people understood that that wasn’t the right thing to do, and that wasn’t the case.”
Members of the sailing team declined to speak to the Orient.
In the week since, the event has dominated conversations in many corners of campus. Members of Af-Am, as well as other students affected by the incident, have been involved in private meetings with administrators and the sailing team. These meetings began last Friday, the day after the incident.
On Wednesday, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster sent a campus-wide email discussing the incident. Following the email, many people took to the anonymous social media app Yik Yak to discuss the response. That night, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) unanimously passed a Statement of Solidarity with students “injured and affected by the incident” following a well-attended period of public comment.
During the public comment time, sailing co-captain Courtney Koos ’16 apologized for the event and said that the sailing team was working to correct its mistake.
“The intention behind the party was not to make any of our peers feel uncomfortable, and we deeply, deeply regret that that is what happened as a result,” Koos said. She added that the team is now looking for ways to educate others on campus about racial issues.
She said that this was not the first time the party had been held, though team members were not aware how the tradition had started.Administration’s Response
Foster wrote in his email that “racial and ethnic stereotyping is not acceptable at Bowdoin,” and argued that “the most powerful and effective response is an honest, open discussion between the students who dressed as they did, those who were stereotyped, and the larger student community.”
The email did not specify what team had been involved in the incident or whether the administration would take specific disciplinary action against those involved.
This marks a change from the precedent set by Foster’s email following “Cracksgiving.” In an email to the Orient, Foster explained the different response.
“These are different situations,” he wrote. “The response to ‘Cracksgiving’ in year one and year two was education and more education. Students are held accountable for their actions whether that’s through education and/or discipline. In this case, I wanted to underscore our community values and the importance of peer to peer accountability and learning through engagement. I think the administration needs to give students the space and support to work things through.”
Olivia Bean ’17 has been in meetings with both administrators and members of the sailing team. She said that her conversations with the team have been productive.
“They stated that [hurting people] wasn’t their intention, but it didn’t matter, because the impact was that it was hurtful to people, and that they as a team want to understand what it was that they did wrong, so that instead of just not doing it they understand why what happened was wrong,” she said.
Some students expressed concerns about the administration’s response. Bomboka expressed disappointment in parts of Foster’s email.
“I wish there had been more words on what to do past talking,” she said. “I think that conversations are all well and good, but there has to be other programming that pushes you a little bit harder than a conversation would.”
Several students who spoke at the BSG meeting on Wednesday voiced similar sentiments.
“It feels very frustrating to hear that Bowdoin just needs to educate people and people just need to talk to each other more. I talk to people every single day,” said Caroline Martinez ’16.
“It’s frustrating that these conversations have been happening for a while, and they do not seem to reach the entirety of campus,” said Gibson Hartley ’16 at the meeting. “There needs to be a push, or at least a challenge, for this conversation to extend beyond the usual group.”Some also voiced worries that the email seemed to put the onus of starting conversations on those who had been offended by the incident.Student Perspectives
Student responses to the incident and the administration’s response have been highly varied.
Following the email, many anonymous Yik Yak users voiced opposition to Foster’s response and skepticism about the idea that the party was inappropriate or that cultural appropriation is a problem, while others pushed back.
As of Thursday night, a Facebook photo album by a current student containing screenshots of posts from Yik Yak called “Racism and Insensitivity at Bowdoin College” had been shared over 200 times.
“I guess we can’t listen to Hispanic music on taco night,” read one post.
“People on this campus just like to be offended for the sake of being offended,” read another.
“Might be expressing a minority opinion but… Gangster culture probably should be ridiculed, dishonored, and eliminated. It brings about drug use, homicide, domestic violence & intergenerational poverty,” read another.
However, sentiments like those expressed on Yik Yak were absent during the public comment time at the BSG meeting on Wednesday night.
During their comments, many students expressed disappointment about the incident and the anonymous posts that followed.
“This community is frustrating me. I know that I’m a Bowdoin student, but I don’t really feel like this is my place right now,” said Bomboka.
“I am so scared because I don’t know who’s writing all this shit on Yik Yak,” said Esther Nunoo ’17.
Koos also sought to distance the sailing team from the anonymous posts that many students found offensive.
“We are appalled and disgusted that people are saying the things that they are on Yik Yak,” she said.
Several students said that they were frustrated with conversations focusing on cultural appropriation. Kevonte Anderson ’15 said the term is not strong enough to describe what happened.
“We have to acknowledge the legacy of white supremacy in this country, and how incidents like this, if we don’t address them properly, just reinforce white supremacy,” he said.
Bomboka echoed the importance of understanding the event in terms more specific than simply cultural appropriation.
“I think cultural appropriation is a macro phenomenon, but the imitation of marginalized groups in a stereotypical manner—that’s what that was,” she said.What Comes Next
Late Thursday night, a group of students put up signs in the entrance to the administrative offices in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library as well as Smith Union, Moulton Union and Thorne Hall imploring the administration to take more concrete action.
Some signs contained messages such as “It is not the job of minority students to educate others,” “#AStatementIsNotEnough,” and “Cultural appropriation is violence.” Others paired Yik Yak posts with the Offer of the College.
Moving forward, students affected by the incident hope it will spur lasting changes on campus.“It’s definitely not an isolated incident,” said Bean. “I think the principles in understanding that you need to understand why this is wrong translate to other things and wider issues, and I think people haven’t quite grasped them yet.”
Bomboka said that one way to reach a greater understanding of racial issues at Bowdoin would be to make more events mandatory.
“I think that what we’ve seen at Bowdoin so far is that if you keep making these talks, these conversations, these programs optional, then you’re going to attract people who already care enough about the issues to want to do it,” she said. “And you need to infuse it in everyday life, because race programming cannot only come from multicultural life.”
Bomboka also hopes that the incident will cause students to think about wider issues.
“What Af-Am, the sailing team and the Bowdoin community should want to gain from this is not that cultural appropriation is between the perpetrator of cultural appropriation and those that are victims, but that it’s a community-wide issue,” she said.
Comprehensive fee exceeds $60,000 for first timeThe roots of increasing costs
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.”
BCA disrupts Clinton campaign speech
BCA members asked Clinton for her position on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline
UPDATE (Thursday, September 24, 2015): At a campaign event in Iowa on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton came out against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying, "I oppose it because I don't think it's in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change."
Clinton's announcement came four days after eight members of Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) disrupted her speech in Portland last Friday as part of a months-long movement by climate activists across the country designed to push Clinton toward declaring a position against the pipeline.
"This is a huge victory for all of the people who had been organizing to push her for months and months and for the movement who's been pushing on Keystone since 2011. It's actually proof that taking that kind of action does work," said BCA president Allyson Gross '16 in an interview with the Orient.
Clinton had long voiced a desire to wait until the White House made a decision about its position on the pipeline, but ultimately chose to articulate her position before the president did.
"It was actually pretty surreal and wonderful to hear," Gross said. "It had been happening all summer—she had continually said no, or she wouldn't talk about it until later. For me to be the last person she said no to was a weird feeling, but a good one."
This article appears in its original form below.
Several members of Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) disrupted a campaign speech by Hillary Clinton on Friday afternoon in an effort to push her to take a stance on the construction of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
The speech was given at an event, billed by the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign as a “Grassroots Organizing Meeting,” held in a gymnasium at King Middle School in Portland. After Clinton first mentioned climate change in her speech, the BCA protesters stood and held signs calling for her to oppose the proposed pipeline, which would transport oil from tar sands in Canada across the midwestern United States to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
“Yes, I’ve said I’m going to be talking about that. It’ll be soon. Just sit down,” Clinton said in response. The protesters remained standing while the speech continued until Clinton again asked them to sit down, at which point Allyson Gross ’16 asked Clinton her position on the pipeline.
“What I have said is you will hear from me shortly, and you will,” Clinton responded. “But you’re not going to hear from me today, so don’t interfere with other people being able to participate, okay?”
A video of the exchange is available on BCA’s Facebook page. Afterward, the protesters left the crowd and stood in the back of the room. Gross was joined by current students Julia Mead ’16, Julia Berkman-Hill ’17, Arnav Patel ’18, Maya Morduch-Toubman ’18, Jonah Watt ’18 and Maddie Lemal-Brown ’18. Recent graduate Matt Goodrich ’15 also took part.
“If I’m putting pressure on my campus to take action on climate by divesting, I expect the same action from Hillary Clinton or any presidential candidate that wins the nomination,” said Gross.
For many BCA members and other activists, the pipeline has become a barometer for determining where a candidate stands on the extraction of fossil fuels.
“I feel that to truly combat climate change, we need to fight it at the root, and the underlying cause is the fossil fuel industry and fossil fuel dependence,” said Patel. “A good indicator on where she stands on dealing with that issue is her stance on Keystone XL.”
Clinton has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to voice a stance on the controversial pipeline. She has said she will wait for the Obama administration to make a decision, but on Thursday said that she “can’t wait much longer.”
“This action didn’t happen in a vacuum,” Gross said. “It’s been happening all across New Hampshire and all across the country this summer...and to catch her off guard in this state where she didn’t think this would be happening would be crucial.”
While members were disappointed that Clinton declined to articulate a position, they said it was expected.
“I feel like we did what we needed to do to push her towards taking a stand as the only presidential candidate who hasn’t taken a stand yet,” said Berkman-Hill.
BCA is perhaps best known on campus for its visible calls for the College to divest from fossil fuels, including a controversial petition presented to President Mills in April 2014 and a sit-in at the president’s office last April.
However, the group has involved itself in national issues, as well. Several members were arrested in March 2014 at a Keystone XL protest in Washington, D.C., and the group organized a trip to the People’s Climate March last fall.
Members saw this event as another opportunity to connect their work on campus to the national political scene.
“I think something that’s really interesting about divestment is that people think you go around the political arena,” said Gross, “[but] the point is that you build power on campus and shift public discussion on support for fossil fuel industries, and use that to pressure presidential candidates and actual power holders to do their job by taking action on climate.”
“We’re not really surprised that she dodged our question with promises for renewable energy, as Bowdoin has been doing,” said Watt. “While we definitely commend these efforts and we think that’s important, we’re still out here fighting and we think it’s important to say that it’s only part of the solution.”
College alters neutrality policies as 2020 nears
As the 2020 deadline for Bowdoin’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality approaches, the College is both reviewing its environmental policies and embarking on a publicity campaign for its sustainability efforts.
A new website for Sustainable Bowdoin, the College’s initiative dedicated to environmental sustainability and its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2020, went live last Thursday.“It has an improved visual design, but it’s really more about content,” said Director of Digital and Social Media Holly Sherburne at last Friday’s quarterly meeting of the Sustainability Implementation Committee.
New features include a timeline with significant events in Bowdoin’s pursuit of environmental sustainability and a narrative video explaining the carbon neutrality pledge.
The update comes as the College’s approach to the goal of carbon neutrality has seen significant changes in recent years.
Most dramatically, beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, the College stopped buying credits to offset its energy use.
For the first few years of the pledge, which came in October 2009, the College purchased renewable energy certificates (RECs), which were intended to offset the environmental impact of non-renewable emissions from electricity on campus.
Director of Finance and Campus Services Delwin Wilson said that 35 percent of the College’s electricity is “green” in accordance with Maine state law. When the College was buying RECs, he said, they were intended to offset the other 65 percent of the College’s electricity use. This amounted to offsetting around 12,000 kilowatt hours a year, with an annual cost of around $35,000.
While these offsets helped to lower the College’s net emissions, they were criticized by some who saw them as a shortcut or a symbolic gesture. A working group of students and faculty members convened and recommended that the College stop buying RECs.
“People thought, while it’s symbolic to buy them, we’d be better off taking the money and investing it in the campus. So that’s what we’ve been doing,” said Katy Longley, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer.
“We thought that it made sense to use it to reduce our own source emissions on campus before purchasing offsets,” Wilson added.
Bowdoin’s net emissions rose in FY 2014 as a result of the decision not to buy offsets, but the College has succeeded in lowering its actual emissions since the pledge began.
According to the College’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Update for FY 2014, the College emitted 15,813 metric tons of greenhouse gas during FY 2014. This was a decrease of 17 percent from FY 2008, the baseline year the College uses to measure its progress on the carbon neutrality pledge.
Bowdoin’s stated goal is to achieve at least a 28 percent reduction in emissions by 2020. After that, said Wilson and Longley, the College is likely to resume buying offsets.
“In 2020, we’ll have to do some big thing to reach neutrality, so at that point we probably will have to buy some RECs in order to be totally carbon neutral,” said Longley.
An analysis from the Portland-based Competitive Energy Services, which is working with Bowdoin on its sustainability measures, projects that the College will have to buy 12,760 tons of carbon dioxide offsets in 2020 to achieve carbon neutrality.
For now, though, the College is focused on other areas. A range of topics were discussed at last Friday’s meeting, including last summer’s solar installation at Sidney J. Watson Arena, part of the largest solar installation in the state of Maine.
While the panels were covered with snow for much of the winter, consultants from Competitive Energy Services said that the panels have still been producing as much energy as they expected.
The committee also discussed rethinking heating in student dorms and ways to grow Sustainable Bowdoin’s presence on campus. With its new website, Sustainable Bowdoin is hoping to expand its visibility on campus and beyond.
“We took a look at sustainability as a whole—what are the messages we want to share?” Sherburne said at last Friday’s meeting.
Rose waits to weigh in on recent campus events
As President Barry Mills enters the final stretch of his 14-year presidency, President-elect Clayton Rose is preparing to take over.
Rose, who has tried to spend at least one day a week on campus since he was announced as Mills’ successor in January, said he has been engaged in a “listening and learning mode” at Bowdoin.
He has not shared his positions on many issues of interest to students on campus this year, including fossil fuel divestment and the state of political dialogue at the College.
“I’m deeply mindful of the fact that President Mills is the president of Bowdoin College, and I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of his ability to do his job,” he said in an interview with the Orient.
However, he emphasized a desire to be open about these issues once he assumes the presidency.
“At the end of the day, [until] June 30, [President Mills] is the president,” Rose said. “On July 1, then I’m the president, and folks can turn to me and...should expect to have answers to those questions.”
Rose currently serves as a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, and has continued his teaching full-time this semester.
“It’s been interesting to manage the time commitment,” he said. “I’m fortunate that I live and work in Boston, so it’s manageable for me to be here.”
Rose plans to move to Brunswick in late June, and will live with his family in the house currently occupied by the Mills family.
Rose estimated that he has met with 60 to 70 faculty members in small meetings over coffee. He has gotten to know the senior staff in most departments of the College, and met recently with the Bowdoin Student Government.
“On campus, my work has been to try to begin to meet as many people as possible in all parts of the Bowdoin community, and then...to begin the process of understanding the issues that are facing Bowdoin, and how the work is done here,” he said.
He’s also introduced himself to students in other ways.
“I’ve gone over to Moulton and gotten a tray and...asked people to sit and have lunch, and that’s been awesome,” he said.
Rose said he does not expect the day-to-day running of the College to change very much in the early months of his presidency.
“I’m more mindful of thinking about the medium- to longer-term issues...that we want to think about for the next three to four years, that will have an impact for a long period of time after that,” he said.
One of Rose’s first decisions came on Monday, when he named William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities in Gender and Women’s Studies Jennifer Scanlon to the post of interim dean for academic affairs for the next two years.
“I took the counsel of other people, thought about options, but that decision was my decision,” he said.
Scanlon will replace Cristle Collins Judd, who has been at the College since 2006.
Q&A with DeRay McKesson '07
On April 2, DeRay McKesson ’07 came to campus to discuss activism, his role in protests throughout the country and social media. Following his talk in Kresge, McKesson sat down for a Q&A with members of the Orient. The following has been lightly edited for clarity.
What’s been your path to activism?
I went on August 16 [to Ferguson] for the first time. I got in the car and drove nine hours and went there. I put on Facebook that I was going and hoped that someone would find me somewhere to crash and they did. The person I stayed with after the first few days was a Bowdoin alum—a Bowdoin classmate—which was really important. You know, at the beginning I had no friends in Missouri, I did not know anyone well but I started protesting and I tweeted as a way to process. I needed to make sense of it to myself and Twitter was a way for me to tell other people, but also really tell myself.
Marginalized people always face this issue of erasure, and erasure comes in two ways—one is that the story is never told, and the second is that it’s told by everyone but you, the marginalized person. And Twitter allowed us to tell a counter-narrative about what was happening in protest in real time, which was powerful. Over the last 200-plus days we’ve been able to both talk about protests nationally and also tell those local stories. We’ve been able to keep the narrative even when the mainstream media may not be focused on the work. We can maintain the story and we’ve found that to be powerful.
How has your time at Bowdoin influenced your current work, and your understanding of the common good?
The common good is this understanding that you are to use your privilege and your gifts for causes greater than you are. I understood that at Bowdoin, the privilege of that education and that experience. The question becomes, common for who? Who is this common for, what does that look like, how do you push that? I think that’s important. I believe the Offer of the College implies that it has to be received, and there’s a reciprocity to what an offer is. I juxtapose that to the American dream, which is forced on people. I appreciate the offer being situated as such; I think the content of the offer is powerful, but I think that the message that an offer itself serves is important.
What do you think effective activism should look like at a place like Bowdoin?
Good question. One thing that I talk about is this idea of the story. It’s important to tell the story of whatever it is that you’re fighting for, especially in the context of a world where you are just always bombarded with messages. How you tell a narrative of why this issue actually matters to people is important. I think at a place like Bowdoin, it is particularly difficult because there is a general level of comfort that can create distance from actionable issues, because it’s generally a good place. So to your question about what productive social activism looks like, I think that protest is always disruption, it’s always confrontation. The question is, how does that live in a place like this? I think that some of it can be physical, like with the die-ins and stuff. Because the student body here is so small, 40 students coming together here to do anything is a sizable part of campus. So it can be creating new community around issues and sort of forcing conversations about things. Because this is a college, it could also be bringing speakers who talk about certain things to educate people. It could be exhibits. I think about those body image things that I’m sure still happen—using art, using culture as a way to push people to think deeper and think differently about work can happen.
It is interesting to protest with privilege, because even the marginalized people here have a relative privilege. It is easy to be comfortable here no matter what; it’s a place where you need for nothing. That creates a different relationship with the issues that people really care about.
How did you turn something you were passionate about at Bowdoin into a career?
My career was fighting for kids—either as a teacher, in after-school, or as a district administrator—and those things were really important to me. I think that if anything my advice to people leaving college who want to do social justice work is to be really clear about who you’re fighting for, right? For me it was kids. Those are the people that I’m fighting for every day. One can become so addicted to the fight that they forget the cause. One can just be so excited about the sort of confrontation phase that they forget the issue, and I’d say to remember to be rooted in the issue. Be as close—and this is the proximity thing—be as close to the work that you want to do as possible. And know who you’re fighting for. So that was my thing. And now I’m fighting for them differently. I’m fighting for them to be alive, whereas before I was fighting for them to have this phenomenal education.
Can you talk a little bit about the Mapping Police Violence project? How did that idea come into being?
Our focus has been on telling the truth, figuring out different ways of telling the truth, and then making sure that the truth we tell always empowers people, and this is that. So it’s like, we’re going to build a map that shows what truly happened, we’re gonna cut the data for people in as many ways as we can, and this is the first compilation of those two databases—the killed by police and then the other one—that we mashed into one. And we’re trying to make sure that we continue to tell the truth and empower people, which is why it has that piece by police department. You can look at gender, age, race—those sort of things are really important.
We rolled out a couple things. Wetheprotesters.org rolled out the database for chants and pictures of signs and those sorts of things. We stopped doing the policy stuff—we put it on hiatus—but that was there, those policy papers. I think we’ll probably do some sort of reading club soon, with protesters from around the country.
It’s interesting. When we released it, one of the first criticisms we got was, why are there not white people? It’s interesting, this idea that white supremacy always centers whiteness.
You’ve talked about receiving a lot of abuse on Twitter and other platforms. Have you experimented with other platforms trying to find a way to avoid some of that? Do you think there are things that the people who develop these kinds of networks could do to stop that kind of thing from happening?
I’m committed to Twitter. I love Twitter. So no to other platforms, and the movement’s not really on Facebook. I do get trolls on Facebook, but really, people troll my mentions on Twitter. If you look at anything I’ve written, there are probably all these people who are fighting in my mentions who I never see, because I’ve blocked like 12,000 people. I think it comes with the territory a little bit. The death threats don’t—I think that’s a whole different ballgame—but I think Twitter has acknowledged that they need to be more aggressive dealing with harassment and abuse, and I think they are making the right strides, they’re just not there yet.
Somebody made a game, I don’t know if you guys saw it, but there’s a target practice game, and my face is one of the faces on it, so you click and shoot me. And when I reported it, Twitter was like, well, the link is somewhere else, so they won’t take it down. So that’s not helpful. So I think they’re working on it. It’s slow, but I’m committed to Twitter as a platform.
We’ll continue to figure out ways to tell the story. I think that there are all these things around community building that we can do. How do we bring together people in the digital space in a way that is still authentic? Because you often see the digital space as being inauthentic, and I think that we’ve seen the digital space be powerfully authentic. How do we find or create the tools that protesters around the country can use to support themselves? You can start a movement, you don’t need an organization. How do we make that easier for you? How do we continue to create those resource banks for people? This goes back to the idea that everyone has a role to play. We’ve been in a place where we have been focused on how do we tell the story, how do we tell the truth, and how do we use this truth to empower people.
Nicole Wetsman contributed to this report.
Students and administration clash, causing tension at Bates
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 happening...it 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.”
From Senior Commons to Tower parties: 50 years of Coles Tower
In the fall of 1964, Bowdoin’s president James Stacy Coles wrote in delight to a friend about the seniors he noticed around the College’s new Senior Center, the 16-story tower that would later bear his name.
“[They] seem to walk about with greater pride,” he wrote. “They have spontaneously spruced up their personal appearance.”
Last fall marked 50 years since the completion and opening of the Senior Center, now known as Coles Tower. Since then, many things have changed on campus. Just as it did in 1964, though, the Tower primarily houses seniors and plays a significant role in the cultural fabric of the College.
Originally, the Tower was conceived as part of a larger program called the Senior Commons. In a senior thesis tracing the history of the program, Benjamin Brennan ’08 wrote that it was “an effort to bring about sweeping social and curricular changes at what was regarded as a very traditional school.”
This was a version of Bowdoin that would be hardly recognizable to students today: a conservative, all-male institution where the vast majority of social life happened inside fraternities. Classes were held every day but Sunday, and women were never allowed in campus dorms.
The goal was to remake the experience of Bowdoin’s upperclassmen, loosening these social restrictions and emphasizing engagement with the outside world. The College felt that its seniors were spending too much time with younger students in fraternities, and hoped to bring them out of fraternity houses and into more contact with one another in the Tower.
“There was this idea that we wanted to find a center for communal life and intellectual life for senior men,” said Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies Jill Pearlman.
To accomplish this, the College created new, interdisciplinary senior seminars that cut across Bowdoin’s traditional distribution requirements. They arranged for scholars-in-residence to live among seniors, and planned a new dining hall where they would eat together. Seeing this as an innovative, modernizing program, they wanted a physical structure to match, one where seniors would both live and study together.
Hugh Stubbins, a prominent modernist architect, designed the new Senior Center. While the building was the first example of modern architecture at Bowdoin, many of the College’s peer institutions, and larger universities like Harvard and Princeton, had built their own modernist buildings over the previous two decades.
At Bowdoin, students had long desired more modern facilities. An Orient editorial from 1945 lamented that “the only things modern on our campus are our toilets and kitchens.” “College campuses are architecturally conservative—rarely does anything new happen at them,” said Pearlman.
When colleges do decide to pursue new architectural styles, though, the trends often spread quickly.
“Everyone was getting their own modernist building after the war,” she added.
Construction began in 1963. On January 20, 1964, while the fourteenth and fifteenth floors were under construction, an electrical fire engulfed the top of the building. Secretary of Development and College Relations John Cross ’76 was then a fourth-grader living in Brunswick. In 2011, he discussed his memories of the fire in a piece for the Bowdoin Daily Sun.
“We slogged through the slush left by rains that had fallen on heavy snow and joined a crowd of students and neighbors in staring up at the tower and the fire crews that battled to contain the blaze,” he wrote.
Surprisingly, the fire, whose repairs cost $200,000, did not much delay construction. The building opened on schedule for the fall semester in 1964. At the time, it was the tallest building in Maine (it now ranks second, after Portland’s Franklin Towers).
While the physical component of the Senior Center program appeared to be a success, many students saw it as an effort to weaken fraternities and feelings about the academic components were mixed. The College soon struggled to fill senior seminars.
Following the resignation of the Center’s original director, history professor Bill Whiteside, in 1970, the decrease in interest among seniors meant that younger students were occupying many of its rooms.
“It was kind of a model that worked for a little while… But by the time I was a senior, it wasn’t exclusively a residence for seniors any more,” said Cross. “It became sort of another dorm.”
By 1980, with the curriculum largely defunct and the building populated by students from a range of class years, the Senior Center was renamed Coles Tower, after the man who had presided over its creation.
Cross said the name change was “a recognition that the Senior Center program had been replaced by a more flexible curriculum.”
Coles Tower Today
Having outlived its original purpose and numerous subsequent architectural movements, Coles Tower fills a far different role than it did at its creation.
“It still stands out. It’s kind of on its own little island,” Pearlman said. “Like many modernist buildings, it hasn’t aged very well.”
Pearlman was optimistic, though, about the renovations currently taking place.
Today, the Tower is central to the social life of many students in a way that few in the heyday of fraternities would have anticipated.
“The tower is the hub of social life for a lot of seniors,” wrote Matt Friedland ’15, a Tower resident, in an email to the Orient. “It houses a solid amount of the senior class, so a lot of events both during the week and on the weekends happen in the tower.”
“It would be the place from which the Bowdoin Bubble, if it existed, would originate,” he wrote.“It’s definitely a social hotspot,” said Lela Garner ’16, another resident of the Tower. “It’s really easy to access other rooms, not like in Brunswick or the freshman dorms where you have to go and knock on everyone’s door.”
However, the social atmosphere dissuades some students from living in Coles as well.
“It seems a bit too chaotic and hectic for me. I need a quiet space,” said Bintou Kunjo ’15, who lives on School Street. “I think it’s party central.”
While the senior seminars of the 1960s are long gone, classes are still taught at the top floor of the Tower. Visiting Assistant Professor of English Morten Hansen has chosen the classroom in each of his two semesters at Bowdoin.
“The view provides a pretty backdrop and counterpoint to discussions and lectures without being a distraction,” he wrote in an email to the Orient. “My sense is that most students like having classes up there overlooking the campus and the surrounding area.”
Many residents appreciate the building’s social life considerably more than its architecture, however.
“I didn’t love it at first, because it felt quite institutional,” said Garner. “When I walk into my home, I don’t want to see cement walls and lots of doors.”
“It’s definitely as comfortable and home-y as you make it, but you have to put in a good amount of effort to make it look nice on the inside,” wrote Hallie Bates ’15 in an email to the Orient.
Despite reservations among students about the building itself, the Tower’s status as a central location for seniors seems to be having a resurgence.
In Fall 2006, 22 percent of the apartments in the Tower were occupied by quads of all seniors. This past fall, that number had risen to 70 percent.
Associate Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall said that it is typically one of the first housing options to fill up in the lottery, along with Harpswell Apartments and the quads in Chamberlain Hall.
Page Street parking ban causes friction
Students searching for overnight parking close to campus can now count one option out for good: The Town of Brunswick approved a permanent overnight parking ban on Page Street last Monday night. Prior to the vote, an emergency parking ban on the street had been in place from January 21 to February 3.
The ban comes as a response to an influx of parking on the street by Bowdoin students, which has frustrated residents and reignited a debate about the College’s new parking rules. Residents can obtain a permit allowing them to park on the street overnight.
Much of the new competition for parking spaces on the street has been due to the conversion of the parking lots at Burnett House—located at the corner of Page Street and Maine Street—from student parking to parking for faculty, staff, and visitors during weekdays.
The town’s ban is also part of a larger trend of parking restrictions aimed at preventing students from parking for long periods of time. A similar policy was passed for Longfellow Avenue in December. A two-hour limit and overnight parking restriction was recently instituted on Park Row, and Cleveland Street also has a two-hour daytime limit.
No student vehicles were ticketed or towed for violating the temporary overnight parking ban, according Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.
“The Town clearly posted the area and compliance was excellent,” he wrote in an email to the Orient.
Meanwhile, it has come as a relief to residents of the street.
“In the past, there was just sort of a balance that worked,” said Emily Swan, who has lived on the street since 1988. “When Bowdoin changed the rules in the lots behind the student houses…[students] started parking on our street all the time. They parked there overnight, and they parked for days on end.”
Beginning in December, Nichols emailed individual students and one faculty member who frequently parked on the street, encouraging them to park elsewhere. These emails were followed by warnings to students parked on the street once the ban went into effect, and a followup email to all students and employees informing them of the ban.
“It’s been weirdly indirect,” said Uma Blanchard ’17, a Burnett House resident. “None of us really knew it was an issue—I don’t think anyone in our house has had interactions with [Page Street residents].”
Several students said they were frustrated by the new restrictions.
“I feel that the parking ban is unreasonable because as a member of Burnett, I am also a Page Street resident and think it’s only fair that we should have access to this parking as well,” wrote Burnett resident Jess Del Duca ’17 in an email to the Orient.
“It’s extremely inconvenient to have to walk to Farley and back every time we want to drive somewhere; it adds at least a half an hour onto a trip,” wrote Sophie Brunt ’17, another Burnett resident, in an email to the Orient. “Especially living in a college house, people with cars run a lot of errands for the house because that’s the only way we can get things we need.”
Swan said that while she and other residents on the street sympathized with the students’ situation, their parking on the street often blocked driveways and made it difficult for municipal services to make it down the street.
“We don’t want to have a complicated regulatory regime. We just want our street to be reasonable,” she said.
She added that students tend to drive larger cars than other people who park on the street, and would sometimes park far away from the curb. Snow drifts piling up on the curb exacerbated the problem.
“The street was just getting narrower and narrower,” she said.
Students and residents alike said that the root of the problem was the College’s parking policy that went into effect in September. The policy prohibits students from parking in Burnett’s lot—or any other College House lot except Reed House’s. Students noted that the lot often has many empty spaces during the day.
“Burnett has two parking lots of its own, and they are rarely full. The most I ever see in either of them is a few cars at a time,” wrote Brunt.
“The problem would be solved in an instant if Bowdoin just switched the rules back,” said Swan. “What was an internal Bowdoin problem was becoming our problem, and that wasn’t really fair to us.”
Nichols explained that the changes to the parking policy were recommended by a parking consultant hired by the College.
“This change was made after a careful assessment and was consistent with recommendations to improve visitor parking that were contained in a campus parking study,” wrote Nichols.
The College is not considering any changes to the parking policy in the near future, according to Nichols.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article misconstrued two of Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols' statements. It has been updated to reflect that the College is not considering changes to the parking policy in the near future and that no student vehicles were ticketed or towed for violating the town's temporary overnight parking ban on Page Street.
Mills proposes starting semester after MLK Day
President Barry Mills has recommended that the College begin the spring semester after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day when planning future academic calendars.
Mills sent an email to the campus community last Thursday detailing the recommendation. With the holiday scheduled to fall during winter break for the next four years, Mills’ proposed change to the calendar would begin in 2020.
Currently, the College begins the spring semester on the holiday three out of every seven years, falling on the final week of winter break in the other four.
Mills said in an interview with the Orient that he had been thinking about the change for a number of years. However, the political climate on campus played a role in the timing of his recommendation.
“As I was thinking about what we’ve seen over the last number of months, the feeling that people have towards Martin Luther King Jr. Day has really intensified and the day has taken on more than just being a national day of remembrance,” Mills said. “It’s a national day of service in a lot of ways.”
In a follow-up email to faculty and students, Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd reiterated the College’s policy regarding the holiday. Bowdoin’s course catalogue specifies that, as with major religious holidays, students are allowed to miss classes or exams for Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances.
This year, the College held several events for the holiday: a commemoration breakfast, a children’s event in Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, two panels in a course taught by Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow in Government Cory Gooding, and a performance by civil rights activists and musicians Bernice Johnson Reagon and her daughter Toshi.
During the performance, Toshi playfully criticized the school for holding classes on the holiday, and called for a wider variety of programming for the holiday.
“A lot of holidays we have are so far off the mark from what we would like them to do, but this one has so much potential to bring up so many issues,” she said.
“I don’t know why you would bring students to school on MLK Day unless you were giving them the opportunity to express all of the different movements that are concerning them that they would like to give voice to,” she continued.
Ashley Bomboka ’16 was among the students who chose not to attend classes. She attended the breakfast, participated in a panel, and attended the concert.
“It was an educational experience—I’m learning a lot more about his work, his change over time, and the way that we’ve appropriated his life to fit our civil rights narrative,” she said. She added that her professors were “very supportive” of her decision not to attend class.Bomboka said she supported the recommendation from Mills.
“It makes sense to honor what [King] did and where he pushed us to go as a country—how he was able to be a role model for so many other activists,” she said.
Some students felt that the change was overdue.
“I’m pretty excited about it. I think it took long enough for it to happen,” said Michelle Kruk ’16, who helped organize campus responses to the non-indictments of the officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases last semester.
“I’m disappointed that it’s not going to happen during my time here, because I think the College tends to do what’s easy a lot of the time,” she added. “The better alternative would have been to just have the day off this year.”
Most of Bowdoin’s NESCAC peers without a winter term are given the day off already, including Amherst, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Trinity and Tufts. Bates holds themed workshops in place of classes, while at Wesleyan the day is used for enrollment for the spring semester.
Mills acknowledged that the policies of other colleges factored into his decision.
“A whole lot of other schools have decided to start the day after,” he said.
Ultimately, Bowdoin’s Calendar Committee will make the final decision.
“I decided not to declare this as some sort of edict, because the calendar is something that many people on the faculty and staff consider carefully, and any modifications to the calendar attract a lot of attention,” Mills said.
Mills said that while he would not support mandatory events in place of classes during the holiday, he did see the potential for College-organized activities on the holiday in lieu of classes.
“We sometimes forget that Martin Luther King Jr. Day has really been designated as a national day of service, so if everyone were back on campus and classes weren’t starting until the next day, one could see the McKeen Center organizing another Common Good Day where students reach out to the community,” he said.
The Calendar Committee will be meeting this spring to decide on future changes to the academic calendar.
Talk of the Quad: A dream pop legend dies at Bowdoin College
When Galaxie 500 arrived at Bowdoin to play a show on April 5, 1991, few knew that the cult dream-pop band was falling apart.
“The notes rang out in cold clarity over the action, condensing themselves into a polar vista, beautiful for all their austerity and absence,” wrote Dan Pearson ’94 in a 2003 issue of the music magazine Stop Smiling. “Hearing it live, you were struck by this sense of space and the power of a single chord or word to ring and dopple out of sight.”
Months before, Pearson and his friend Christopher Heuer ’94 had booked the band to play in Moulton Union’s Main Lounge through the College’s Student Union Committee. In the tradition of college radio DJs eager to engage with underground artists but operating with limited budgets, they booked the band “on a shoestring,” according to Pearson. Last week I spoke with Pearson, who now lives in Connecticut and is working on a novel.
“It meant a lot for us to basically bring these things to Maine,” Pearson said. “Most of these bands that came up had never been north of Boston.”
Galaxie 500 had played the night before in Boston University’s hockey arena, warming up the crowd for the band’s better-known peers, the Cocteau Twins. After a transcontinental tour, Bowdoin was Galaxie 500’s last scheduled date before the band moved on to Japan.
But singer and guitarist Dean Wareham had other plans. Tensions had been building for weeks between him and the other two members of the band, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang, as they decided whether to sign to a major label following the success of their third album, “This Is Our Music.”
It was a time of transition for a whole generation of bands like Galaxie 500. Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” which signified the arrival of alternative rock on a mainstream stage, was released five months after the show at Bowdoin.
Sonic Youth, who had been a well-established underground group in the 1980s, released their first album with the major label Geffen in 1990. Their tour the following year was immortalized in a documentary called “1991: The Year Punk Broke.”
Galaxie 500 would never make it to Japan. When the band arrived in Brunswick, a fed-up Wareham had been planning on quitting for weeks, setting the stage for Bowdoin to become an accidental landmark in alt-rock history.
“We were scheduled to go on at nine that night, but the opening band played for an hour and a half while we waited in the green room that the students had set up for us,” Wareham would later write in his 2008 memoir, “Black Postcards.”
“Being a college band, they didn’t know that the opener is supposed to play a short set and then get off the stage. We sat in the green room getting more and more irritated. And that was our final show—an annoying evening at Bowdoin College,” he continued.
Even with the internal tension, the band, with its deceptively simple chord progressions and quietly building percussion, impressed the student crowd of a few dozen that filled Moulton Union.
“It was a truly awesome show,” Pearson said. “The acoustics were awful, but it was the coolest place to have a show.
Still, for Pearson and his peers, it was hard to square the musical excitement with the band’s apparent lack of interest in the school’s scene.
“[Dean] got so finished, he packed up and went out the door and drove away. I don’t even think he said thank you,” Pearson said. “We bought all this beer, and we wanted to have some beer and talk with them, but they just wanted to get back to Boston.”
The next morning, Krukowski called Wareham, still unaware that he intended to leave the band.
“Damon called Dean to say he was going to buy our plane tickets to Japan for the tour we had booked there, and Dean said he quit. Damon asked why and Dean said he had nothing more to say to us,” Yang recalled in a 2010 interview with Pitchfork.com.
Pearson didn’t hear about the band’s breakup until weeks later, when a tearful writer from CMJ (a music events company) called WBOR’s station manager with the news.
“It was a strange thing, because we were so excited and they were in a very different place with their relationships,” he said. “We really felt bad for a few years after, before the published accounts came out, and we thought it somehow had something to do with us.”
Galaxie 500’s records went on to become an important piece of the indie rock canon, but they remain as a tantalizing reminder of what could have been, as many of their contemporaries crossed over to commercial success while still retaining artistic control.
The former members seem to agree that a deal with Columbia Records was imminent, had the band stayed together. Instead, the band was finished, along with the underground era it had matured in.
According to Pearson, students booking shows at Bowdoin felt the effects. All of a sudden, he said, “You weren’t talking to some dude in his apartment in Chicago. You were talking to major labels.”
“There were some very good shows, but by the time we were seniors we had really stopped trying to bring these little shows to campus,” he added. “They were putting more money into bigger acts.”
At Bowdoin, the concert itself seems largely forgotten. I did a double take when I came across a poster advertising the show on a music blog this summer. Of the Galaxie 500 fans I’ve spoken to at Bowdoin, none had heard that the band’s last show happened here.
Still, the ethos that brought the band to Bowdoin in the first place lives on. In spring 2013, The Antlers—a band whose atmospheric, melancholy guitar pop makes them a sort of spiritual heir to Galaxie 500—played WBOR’s spring concert in Smith Union before a similarly enraptured crowd.
Last spring brought an equally successful show from underground rapper Murs. While the members of Galaxie 500 seem unlikely to reunite—Wareham has a solo career, while the other two members perform as Damon & Naomi—independent music has once again found a home at Bowdoin.
Unity for support staff comes without unions
The College employs around 380 support staff, who receive comprehensive benefits and assistance and have little desire for official unions.
Several years ago, housekeeper Karen Brownlee received a call: someone had accidentally sprayed a fire extinguisher in Helmreich House.
“We walked in and it was just covered—the entire building,” she said, “and the weekend people had to go in and clean it up.”
The difficulty of the work the support staff does is not always recognized. From fire extinguisher rampages, to defecation in mop buckets, to students moving into laundry rooms, Bowdoin support staff truly has the College’s back. Cleaning chemical guides must be followed precisely; bleachers are not easy to move.
Brownlee, who has worked at the College for five years, said the difficulty can take new hires by surprise.
“I think people see it as ‘Oh, it’s just housekeeping,’ and then they’re like, ‘Shit, it’s pretty hardcore,”’ she said.
The College employs around 380 support staff working in areas like housekeeping, security, dining, facilities, grounds and academic support. These employees are essential, and many say the College provides excellent compensation and benefits.
Despite Bowdoin’s attractive working environment, as with any workplace, it is not entirely conflict free.
Employees can bring concerns to Human Resources (HR), or to a variety of other programs. Though Director of Human Resources Tama Spoerri said that the first person an employee should talk to is their supervisor, HR knows other outlets are necessary.Benefits
All budgeted full time equivalent (FTE) employees of the College who work at least 20 hours a week during the academic year on a set schedule are eligible for the benefits package.Workers who are not full time employees of the College—like those who are brought in to replace a person on sick leave or extra security guards hired for busy weekends with large events—are not eligible for the benefits package.
The standard benefits package for employees includes medical coverage, dental coverage, vacation time, sick time, and a retirement plan that kicks in after one year of employment as long as the employee is over the age of 26. The Human Resources department added vision coverage to the benefits package a few years ago.
The disability plan for hourly workers used to be different than that of salary workers, but the HR department changed the program this year to make it standard among all employees.
In the past, hourly workers had to choose between either paying for a disability plan that would kick in after 15 days of missing work or having a disability plan that was free, but pay only kicked in after 60 days of missing work. That system was eliminated earlier this year. Now the disability plan is free and pay kicks in after 15 days of missing work due to a disability.
The College also changed the long-term disability program earlier this year.
Long-term disability payments kick in after 25 weeks of being unable to work. Employees used to receive payments equal to 60 percent of their base pay, but this amount was taxed. Employees received lower payments than they expected so the HR department decided to make the payment equal to 60 percent of the employee’s base pay without tax reductions.
The HR department has made changes to benefit plans in response to legitimate concerns raised by employees, situations that highlight flaws in the plans, or recommendations from the Benefits Advisory Committee.Lack of union organizations
Presently, Bowdoin does not have any independent labor organizations. Security officers were unionized until the 1990s, when they voted to decertify. Spoerri said she hasn’t recently heard desire for unionization from any staff at the College.
“When I first got here, there was a little bit of chatter about [unionization],” said grounds crew worker Mike Grim, who has worked at the College for eight years. He said the consensus was that organizing was not a very realistic idea.
“We do have a couple of people on our crew who are really gung-ho about it,” said Daniel Kimmick, another housekeeper. “I wouldn’t personally do a union, because I think we would lose a lot of benefits that Bowdoin gives us.”
Despite the fact that Maine is an at-will employment state—employees can be fired without cause or advance notice—Spoerri said that the issues leading to the last unionization discussion were resolved through internal communication and without any disciplinary action.
“People feel they have pretty good working conditions—they’re fairly paid and have good benefits,” said Spoerri.
Kimmick said, “I’ve learned not to mess with something that’s good.”Support Staff Advocacy Committee
The Support Staff Advocacy Committee (SSAC) is one organization on campus that helps represent Bowdoin staff both within their workplace and to the administration. The SSAC works with HR and other on-campus resources to be a representative voice for support staff. The SSAC also puts on events and works on community building. The overall goal of the SSAC is to make sure support staff are able to take advantage of everything Bowdoin has to offer.
In some regards, the SSAC comes close to filling the role of a union, but as an organization heavily intertwined with the HR department, it is distinct from an independent labor union advocating on behalf of workers at the College. However, Grim, member of the committee, said that when there is conflict, the SSAC is able to work in a way similar to that of a theoretical union in that it advocates for workers.
“I look at the SSAC the same as a union organization,” Grim said. “Ideas are presented that could help the workers, it’s taken up the chain, and we work with management to see if it can fly.”
“I call it a quality-of-life program for our workers,” he added.
Rosie Armstrong, program coordinator for the Environmental Studies department and co-chair of the SSAC, said that the SSAC was founded to ensure staff could address their concerns.
“It was a way to give support staff voice so that problems didn’t fester,” said Armstrong. “If people were frustrated, there was an avenue of communication with administration.”
One of the most popular events that the SSAC puts on is the annual lunch with President Barry Mills in which he addresses the support staff and then opens up the floor for questions.
The SSAC also surveys Bowdoin support staff and uses that information to help decide what programs to work on putting together. Recently, after hearing that staff were interested in skill building, especially surrounding computer programming and software use, the SSAC worked to install a Lynda.com kiosk in H-L Library. Lynda.com is a website which provides tutorials that improve users’ computer skills. Staff members have access to this kiosk and can use it to browse and view a large variety of these tutorials.
The SSAC also worked to set up a sick bank, where employees can donate up to 100 hours of sick time per year, provided they keep 500 hours in their own bank. Support staff who must miss work for extended time periods due to illness or injury, yet don’t qualify for disability, can use hours from the bank.
The SSAC meets with HR to discuss trends and desires of the staff, but does not discuss individuals. Spoerri also sits on the SSAC.Workplace advisors
The job of dealing with day-to-day concerns of employees falls less to the SSAC, which focuses on longer-term improvements, and more on the Workplace Advisors Program (WAP).
There are currently eight workplace advisors on campus and the group includes both faculty and support staff. According to their brochure, the WAP “provides a confidential, neutral and informal process that facilitates fair and equitable resolutions to concerns that arise in the workplace.”
The function of the WAP is primarily to provide a listening ear to the concerns of employees. There is no formal procedure that is associated with contacting a Workplace Advisor, conversations are not on the record, and the only time they are required to disclose information brought to them is if it involves imminent harm or sexual harassment.
Talking to a Workplace Advisor does not involve a notice being sent to HR. Mostly, Workplace Advisors aid in conflict resolution by giving advice or connecting staff to other resources that could help them. Donna Trout, the coordinator of the psychology department and the coordinator of WAP, says the experience is like talking to a friend.
“You’re never really sure if they’re asking you something because you’re a Workplace Advisor or because you know them,” said Trout.
Trout said that most problems that get brought up with her are surrounding issues with co-workers or supervisors, and often concern inequity—when an employee feels they are being treated differently than someone else.
Workplace Advisors are nominated by their peers, then selected by the current Workplace Advisors. They then receive HR training. The Workplace Advisors also meet with the College’s President to discuss trends that they have encountered, though due to their anonymity policy, no specifics are brought up.
Correction, May 2: An earlier version of this article stated that the disability plan for support staff kicks in after 25 days of missing work due to a disability; it has been corrected to show that the disability plan kicks in after 15 days.
Presidential search committee begins to take shape
The Board of Trustees and Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) are making progress on finding a replacement for President Barry Mills, and have already interviewed some executive search firms and selected the two students who will sit on the search committee.
The Board is currently vetting the firms that will provide the committee with a variety of interested outside candidates, according to Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Elizabeth Orlic.
“Search firms are being interviewed and considered, but to date, there has been no decision about this aspect of the search,” she wrote in an email to the Orient.
The Board is expected to announce the names of the two students, along with the full membership of the committee, during its meetings next week. Jes Staley ’79 was announced as the chair of the selection committee on April 21, but he declined to comment for this article.The two student representatives were chosen by a committee composed of BSG executives from both this year and next year; terms for this year’s executives officially ended on Wednesday. Interviews for the committee were conducted earlier this week.
“We were completely blown away by the quality of students who applied to the position,” said Sarah Nelson ’14, president of BSG. “That was really inspiring for us as a committee, and it made our decision really difficult.”
About 40 students from the Classes of 2015 and 2016 applied, according to Nelson. “The goal is to find two students with different backgrounds, who have different involvement on campus, who are part of different organizations, who have seen different parts of how the school works, and who really bring two unique voices to the committee,” Nelson said.
The exact makeup of the committee remains to be seen. In an email to students on April 14, Chair of the Board of Trustees Deborah Barker wrote that the committee would include “members of the Board, faculty, students, staff, and other alumni representatives.”
George Lincoln Skolfield Jr. Professor of German Steven Cerf, who is retiring at the end of this year, served on the last presidential search committee to replace Bob Edwards, along with Professor of Physics Madeline Msall and Professor of Economics Deborah DeGraff.
At that time, three faculty representatives were elected. Cerf said the faculty worked to ensure that the three major ranks of faculty (assistant professor, associate professor and full professor) and the three major academic divisions (natural sciences, social sciences and humanities) were all represented.
“I think it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Cerf. “There was a loyalty to the institution that meant that this committee sacrificed weekends and travel, poring over folders and interviewing candidates.”
Cerf said that the executive search company used by the last committee helped to narrow the field.
“We were not beholden to them to hire only from their picks, but at least they gave us a sampling of people who would be eager to do such a position, who had experience in governance of a college and who manifested success,” he said.
Mills originally chaired that committee. Cerf said that he “certainly wasn’t on [the committee’s] list.”
“We were so impressed by his leadership on the committee that we asked him to resign so we could consider him as the future Bowdoin president,” Cerf said.
As the new committee prepares to vet what will likely be a wide-ranging group of candidates, there are many questions to consider. Cerf said that a point of contention in the last search was academic experience. Having made his career as a corporate lawyer, Mills was not the most obvious candidate for a college presidency, but Cerf said that Mills’ Ph.D. and teaching experience in biology made a difference.
“Our union card is a Ph.D.,” he said. “I heard from dozens of my faculty colleagues that they didn’t care what background this president had, they must have a Ph.D.”
Interactive: President Mills to depart next spring after 14 years
The Board of Trustees will form a search committee by its next meeting on May 8 to select the College’s 15th president.
President Barry Mills announced on Monday that he plans to step down at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year. Mills has been president since 2001.
“Transitions are inevitable, and after what will be 14 tremendous years as president, I believe it is time for me to make way for new leadership to propel Bowdoin into its next period of greatness,” Mills wrote in an email to campus.
In an interview with the Orient, Mills said that he came to the decision in March. He notified the Board of Trustees of his decision on Monday morning, followed by an email to the campus.
In 2011, Mills told the Orient that he would stay at the College for at least five more years, making his departure in 2015 a year earlier than expected.
Mills graduated from Bowdoin in 1972 with a double major in Government and Biochemistry. He holds a Ph.D in Biology from Syracuse University and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. He was a partner at the New York-based law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP before assuming his position at Bowdoin.
He has been popular among students, with approval ratings in Orient surveys consistently above 90 percent.
“Barry’s been a really remarkable leader for this place,” said Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster. “I don’t think I know anyone who has such passion for Bowdoin. You take his strategic mind and his relentless drive and his high aspirations for this place, and it’s quite extraordinary to see what’s been accomplished.”
Mills has also proven an effective fundraiser, helping to grow the endowment from $433.2 million in his first year in office to $1.03 billion in 2013. The amout of money the College puts toward financial aid has more than doubled during his tenure—from $14.6 million (unadjusted for inflation) in 2001 to $32.3 million in 2013.
Mills is currently the second longest serving president in the NESCAC. Colby’s William D. Adams has been in office since 2000, but plans to retire at the end of this year. Mills’ tenure is the longest for a Bowdoin president since James Coles, who was in office from 1952 to 1967. Overall, Mills’s length of tenure will rank sixth-longest of 14 Bowdoin presidents.
Few members of the Bowdoin community knew of Mills’ plans before Monday.
“Everyone knew this day would come, but it was a surprise,” said Foster.
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley said she “was hoping it wouldn’t be this soon.”
Mills said the timing of his announcement was meant to give the Board of Trustees enough time to start thinking about the transition in time for its annual meeting in May. The Board now has 14 months to find a successor and prepare for the transition.
Chair of the Board of Trustees Deborah Barker said that the committee is going to revisit Bowdoin’s mission, and think about where the College is currently headed, and then draft a job opening based on these considerations.
“A president needs to be everything,” she said. “He needs to be a chief executive—or she does—a politician, a leader and a fundraiser.”
Barker said that the Trustees hope to approve a search committee at their meeting on May 7 and 8.
“That’s the most important responsibility the Trustees have,” Foster said. “We have a stellar board, and they’ll get it right.”
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) President Sarah Nelson ’14 sent an email to rising juniors and seniors Wednesday night inviting them to apply to represent the student body on the search committee. According to Barker, the board has reached out to all constituent groups—students, faculty, and alumni—to find potential committee members.
Mills said he does not plan on being involved in the search process.
“It’s not wise for a person to be involved in choosing their successor, so it will be up to that committee and the trustees to find a new president,” he said.
He cited the College’s stability as the main reason for his decision to depart a year earlier than he had planned.
“It’s not a lot earlier,” he said. “I recognize I’ve been here a long time. Fourteen years is a long time to be a college president, and the transition is going to be somewhat challenging for the school. My own view is that it’s important to allow a place to go through a challenging point when it’s in an incredibly good position.”
Mills also emphasized the importance of a president’s commitment to a long tenure.“It’s an incredibly good time for the College,” he said. “It deserves a new leader who is going to have a run rate of 10 to 15 years.”
For now, Mills said he is focusing on his remaining time at Bowdoin.
“Lots of people have asked me to reflect on the past, and I’m actually not interested in reflecting on the past right now. I’m interested in thinking about the future,” he said.
He listed fundraising for the College’s financial aid endowment, supporting the Digital and Computational Studies program, and promoting the Coastal Studies Center as top priorities for his remaining time at Bowdoin.
As for his plans after Bowdoin, Mills said that his decision to step down should not be interpreted as a retirement—though he does not plan to practice law again.
“I don’t want to retire,” he said. “I have a lot more years ahead of me where I think I can be incredibly effective and energetic and successful. And so I’m open to all kinds of opportunities.”News Analysis
President Mills’ Monday morning announcement came relatively abruptly, but it was a coordinated effort. Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood said he learned of Mills’ plans in a “number of conversations over the weekend.”
“The first order of business once he had made his decision was to tell his bosses—the Board of Trustees,” said Hood.
After informing senior staff members of the decision individually, Mills placed a conference call to the trustees at 11 a.m.
An email announcement to staff, students and faculty came half an hour later, followed by an email from Debbie Barker ’80, chair of the Board of Trustees. Hood said that both of those emails were written over the weekend, and were not edited by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs beyond simple copy-editing.
After Mills’ email, Hood said, his office “took over with getting the word out.” The Bowdoin Daily Sun quickly posted online and promoted it on the College’s social media channels. The article was also sent in an email to alumni, parents, and the widows of alumni.
“The biggest challenge is making sure that things happen fast enough, so that you’re not leaving people out, so that they’re not hearing it in ways other than what we would prefer, which is from the College,” said Hood. “It was all done in 40 minutes.”
“Bowdoin students are very technologically savvy,” he added. “We knew that as soon as that email went out, it’d be out on Twitter. And it was.”
Mills himself was also involved in the social media blitz, posting a photo taken during the conference call to his personal Instagram account after the call ended.
“This was all Barry,” Hood said. “We’re sitting there, the phone call’s going on, and he hands his phone to one of the senior officers and says, ‘Take a picture!’”
12 students disciplined for illicit Adderall use
Twelve students were disciplined before Spring Break for misusing the prescription drug Adderall, according to a source within the administration. Two of these students, both first years, were cited in last week’s Security Report for trafficking prescription drugs.
Both of these students declined to comment to the Orient.
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster declined to comment on the disciplinary situations of individual students. According to the Student Handbook, students involved in drug trafficking have the option of “resigning” from the College or having a hearing in front of the Judicial Board (J-Board) for permanent dismissal.
Two other implicated students agreed to talk to the Orient on the condition of anonymity; their names have been changed in this article to protect their identities.
Abby, a female sophomore, said that she was approached by a friend looking to sell the drug. “I directed her towards people who I knew wanted it,” she said. “We bought twice, and I wouldn’t say it was that much, but after the second time I sort of realized that it really wasn’t smart.”
“One of my best friends knew the first year and she got [the pills] from her and then gave some to me,” said Elizabeth, another female sophomore, in an email to the Orient. “I didn’t know that the main dealer was selling to a large amount of people,” she wrote. “I only knew that she had sold to a couple of my friends.”
Both said that a letter was sent to their parents, but they were not subjected to any other disciplinary action.
“When I met with Security, I think they were really just most concerned with stopping whatever relationships had been made,” said Abby. “They really weren’t concerned with consequences or punishments—they didn’t even bring it up until I asked.”
According to Director fo Safety and Security Randy Nichols, the College makes a distinction between “furnishing” other students with drugs and “trafficking” them. The distinction, Foster said, is rooted in intent to make a profit.
“There’s no place at Bowdoin for dealing drugs,” Foster said. “People need to know that, because if they choose to do that, to run a business, so to speak, then Bowdoin doesn’t want them here. And that’s where they’re given the option to say, okay, I’m gonna resign, or I’m going to go before the J-Board for permanent dismissal.”
Foster said that students can resign for a variety of reasons, but that the reason is not indicated on a transcript.
“The transcript doesn’t say resigned, the transcript doesn’t say dismissed, the transcript doesn’t say medical leave of absence,” he said. “Bowdoin doesn’t do that. Other schools will do that, we won’t.”
The news of the bust has reignited conversation about the prevalence of Adderall and other prescription drugs on campus.
“I think that the majority of students here have used Adderral [sic] to study at least once in their Bowdoin career,” wrote Elizabeth. “A lot of people with prescriptions willingly give some of their pills to their friends when they need them, sometimes asking for money in return.”
“I feel like who dabbles in drugs here really divides social groups, which I didn’t anticipate coming in,” said Abby.
Foster had a different assessment.
“I think there’s been a perception on campus that this is rampant, but when we’ve actually had students take the time to respond to anonymous surveys, we haven’t found that what the actual misuse is is as high as the perceived use,” he said.
Foster cited a NESCAC-wide survey from Spring 2012 where five percent of Bowdoin’s respondents reported using prescription drugs like Adderall without a prescription over the past 30 days, and another two percent reported abusing prescription drugs they had legitimately.
Meanwhile, over 10 percent of the respondents in a survey conducted last year by the Orient reported using Adderall or Ritalin recreationally or as a “study drug” on campus at least once. Regardless, Nichols said, “In a given year we’re not investigating a lot of cases of misuse of prescription drugs. We’ll have a handful.”
Citing preliminary statistics from the federaly mandated Anual Clery Campus Crime Report, Nichols said that Security dealt 51 drug law violations in 2012, a 50 percent increase from 2012, when there were 34. Nichols said that most of these violations involved small amounts of marijuana.
Both Abby and Elizabeth said they used Adderall primarily to study.
“I know of others snorting it at night, but I rarely did that,” said Elizabeth.
“Considering the drug’s general popularity and consumption on college campuses around America, I think that [its] illegality and immorality are being more and more overlooked by students,” said Elizabeth. “These pills have become sort of a norm, which is why I never really considered the repercussions of buying them.”
“I think that no one who was involved had any sort of real intentions,” added Abby. “I just don’t think anyone really thought about the consequences. The whole thing was just pretty naïve and stupid.”
Talk of the Quad: Major medal
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, rumors circulated that China was faking the ages of its women’s gymnastics team, perhaps allowing girls as young as 14 or 15 to compete. At the time, I was astounded: People my age were in the Olympics, winning medals in front of a worldwide audience?
The Sochi Olympics ended on Sunday, and they were the first I’ve been able to watch in college. Things were different this time around. “Look at this guy,” a friend said a couple weeks ago as we watched snowboarders trying to qualify for the final. “He’s my age, my height, my weight. We’re the same person.”
What he said was funny, but it didn’t feel that strange or surprising. At this point, most Olympians are somewhere around our age.
“What have I done with my life?” he asked jokingly.
But those of us without world-class athletic skills are going on with our lives. Like the majority of my peers in the Class of 2016, I have a fresh new major. Two of them, actually.
Of course, nothing’s set in stone. “History” and “Government & Legal Studies” are just getting comfortable in that “My Academic Profile” tab on Polaris. I could major in one and minor in another. I could drop both and major in something else entirely. I could drop out of school altogether. But for now, I’ve got a plan. I’ve got an idea of what I want to do. If nothing else, I have a path of least resistance, and I have a solid answer when a relative or a prospective employer or a complete stranger asks what I’m studying.
In “The Political Mind,” cognitive linguist George Lakoff argues that, since we were born, our brains have been internalizing what he calls “cultural narratives.” Essentially, he says that common archetypal narratives (the Horatio Alger success story, the redemption story, etc.) are hammered into our brains as we are exposed to them again and again. We fall back on these narratives as we try to understand the stories of the people around us, even if their stories don’t fit neatly into any of them.
“The Political Mind” focuses on our perceptions of public issues and public figures—like politicians or, maybe, Olympians. NBC figured out decades ago that they could exploit cultural narratives. The network treats every American star, it seems, to a feature or a post-competition interview designed to peg him or her as a character we recognize.
Sometimes it’s inspiring, and other times the network overplays its hand and we recognize that we’re being tricked.
An interviewer asks a skier still in full uniform about his deceased brother and brings him to tears. “Got it,” it seems like we’re supposed to think subconsciously. “This is Bode ‘Overcoming Adversity’ Miller!”
Last week, after I watched this interview, I started thumbing through Lakoff’s book again. This time something else struck me. He writes: “We live our narratives. The lived story is at the center of modern personality theory.”
Right now, there’s a display in a Smith Union hallway of students whose activities at the McKeen Center are literally presented as linear narratives, with cards detailing their activities connected by pieces of yarn. These experiences probably only play a small part in the way they see the overarching cultural narratives of their lives, but the display is an interesting form for telling their stories. Unlike a resume or a biographical paragraph, they acknowledge that there’s a lot of life happening in between those activities.
I’m just starting to get to the point where I can begin to see which cultural narratives my life might fit into, and that gets to the heart of why choosing a major has been a bittersweet thing. Sure, it might be a big milestone in a college student’s life, but it’s also a tough pill to swallow, and a lot of that has to do with its power to influence how we see our own narrative.
In other words, it feels like there’s a lot more to lose than there is to gain. “This is a new breed of the sophomore slump,” Kate Witteman ’15 wrote in the Orient around this time last year. “This slump is the emotional consequence of us narrowing our paths.”
So now I’m thinking about my own narrative like it’s on that wall in Smith Union, too: one big milestone, sure, but with a hell of a lot in between. When we don’t have anything else to go on, our brains resort to cultural narratives to create rough schematics of the people around us. The choice between a major in Mathematics and a major in English can feel like the difference between “young career-oriented professional” and “aimless millennial.” But we know ourselves better than that. There’s still a lot of yarn left between choosing a major and whatever comes next.
College increases gift to town for new McLellan renovations
As the price of the renovation of the former McLellan Building continues to rise, Bowdoin has committed an additional $20,000 to its annual payment to Brunswick for 2014.
The Town of Brunswick intends to use the building as a new city hall once it is renovated. The town has seen the price of renovations on the building, originally estimated at around $100,000, grow to over $1 million.
A February 6 article in the Times Record reported that new costs had put the renovation $20,000 over its most recent projected budget.
Brunswick acquired the building—located at 85 Union Street—from Bowdoin in December 2011 in exchange for the Longfellow Elementary School building, which has since become the Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance.
The College moved most of its offices from the building at the end of 2013. The Office of Communications and Interactive Media Group moved to the third floor, where they will stay for the next ten years as part of an agreement with the town.
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley said that the town requested the additional money this year to go towards a power generator in the building.
“The generator’s going to cost $80,000, and we thought it was good because the communications office is on the third floor, and in the event of a power outage or a campus emergency it would be good to have backup power farther away from campus,” she said.
Since 2000, the College has made yearly payments on the building to the town instead of a standard property tax.
“When we built McLellan as a way to support the Town of Brunswick, we did agree to pay some taxes on the building even though legally we weren’t required to,” said Longley, adding that the College had payed $555,916 in payments in lieu of taxes since it acquired the building in 2000.Generally, the College is exempt as a nonprofit from paying property taxes. However, Longley said there are certain types of property, like vacant property or faculty housing, where it does pay taxes. According to an economic impact report released by the College last year, it paid $253,967 in property taxes in the 2012 to 2013 fiscal year. Bowdoin also makes voluntary contributions to Brunswick and Harpswell, where the Coastal Studies Center is located.
Longley said these grants are intended to offset the cost of fire and police responses that are related to the College.
According to the College’s 2011 Tax Form 990—the most recent available—Brunswick received $123,000, while Harpswell received $8,800 in unrestricted contributions from the College. United Way of Mid Coast Maine, Pine Grove Cemetery, and Coastal Transportation received $15,000, $9,700, and $10,000, respectively. The Brunswick Downtown Association received $10,000.
College’s insurance plan to see changes under the ACA
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is bringing changes to insurance plans across the country, and Bowdoin’s is no exception. Students on the College’s health care plan could see increases of up to 16 percent in their premiums next year.
To comply with the new law, the College’s health insurance will provide dental and vision care for students under 19 for the first time next year. The plan has also gradually been phasing out coverage limits for individual conditions, and next year all such limits will be eliminated.
The likely increases in premiums will be a result of these expansions, as well as new taxes and fees starting next year. Those taxes are expected to raise rates anywhere from 2 percent to 6 percent. This year, the premium for the College’s plan $1,544.
Library debuts newly updated version of joint CBB catalogue
Students using the library for research will soon notice a change in one of its main tools. A new version of CBBcat, the joint online catalogue for the Bowdoin, Bates and Colby libraries, went live yesterday.
New features include the ability to request a loan from Colby or Bates from within the catalogue, fewer duplicate results in searches, and the ability to search only for currently available materials.
The original version of CBBcat was launched in 2009, and although libraries from the three schools have shared resources since the 1970s, each school maintained its local systems and servers.
Deans call for review of health services
Bowdoin announced plans this week to conduct a review of the way the student Health Center is structured.
In an email to students and employees on Monday, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster wrote that the College is exploring the idea of outsourcing certain tasks to outside partners in light of the departure of Director of Health Services Sandra Hayes and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
“Are there ways to provide students with greater access to medical specialists and improve the coordination of care between on- and off-campus providers?” Foster wrote. “Are there new ways to manage medical records or to make emergency services more readily available? What changes might we make to the Student Health Insurance Program in light of the Affordable Care Act?”
Interactive: Mills trails Volent in list of College's highest compensated
Earning $873,686 in 2011, Volent remains the highest paid Bowdoin employee. President Mills earned $499,824 in 2011, a 3.4% increase.
Paula Volent, senior vice president for investments, remained Bowdoin’s highest-paid employee during the 2011 calendar year, a position she has held since she bypassed President Barry Mills in the 2007 fiscal year according to a November 2008 Orient article. She earned $873,686 in total in 2011, according to the most recent Form 990 tax documents filed by the College. All nonprofit institutions are required to disclose the compensation of their highest earners.
At $499,824, Mills’ earnings ranked third, behind Volent and William Torrey, who stepped down as senior vice president for planning and development in 2011. Torrey made $552,311, a 78.5 percent increase—from $309,333 the year before—that Mills attributed to a retirement package.Historically, Bowdoin has been an anomaly among small liberal arts schools, where presidents are typically the highest earners. In 2011, Williams was the only other NESCAC institution where another administrator earned the highest salary, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s compilation of executive compensation at private colleges.
Bowdoin was the only college where the president was the third-highest earner.
Colby cuts rugby funding to student outcry
Over half of Colby student body signs petition in opposition; Bowdoin rugby secure with diversified funding sources.
A recent decision by the Colby administration to stop funding its men’s and women’s club rugby programs has sparked a controversy on the Mules’ campus.
In a meeting on November 19, the teams were told that they would not be funded after the Spring 2014 season. Players said the announcement came as a surprise.
“We were all expecting an apology because they had messed up the beginning of our season, essentially forcing us to forfeit our first games,” said Kaitlin Fitzgerald, a sophomore on Colby’s women’s team, in an interview with the Orient via Skype. “Instead, they told us they were cutting both teams after the conclusion of the spring season.”
McLellan renovations to cost town 10 times initial estimate
As Bowdoin prepares to move its offices from the first and second floor of the McLellan Building by Hannaford to various locations on campus, the Town of Brunswick is debating how to pay for the building’s higher-than-expected renovation costs.
At a meeting last Thursday, the Brunswick Town Council discussed possibilities for financing the renovation of the building, located at 85 Union St., which they estimate will cost nearly $1 million. The town plans to use the building as a new town hall.
“A lot of this discussion has arisen because the price has escalated,” said town councilor Benet Pols.
Taking a break: students on leave devote time off campus to work, play
While it’s common for Bowdoin students to participate in off-campus study programs, each year a small number of students chose to take time off from Bowdoin for other reasons.
According to Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster, a total of 68 matriculated students were on leave during the Spring 2013 semester. This group includes students taking voluntary leaves of absence, medical leaves and disciplinary leaves. Because of its small size, The College does not share more specific leave numbers.
Middlebury released statistics last week indicating that the number of students taking voluntary leave there has increased dramatically. According to an article in the Middlebury Campus, 59 students are currently taking voluntary leaves of absence alone.
Q&A: Songza creator Davich ’06 knows what you want to listen to
Eric Davich ’06 is one of the founders of the music-streaming app Songza, which has around 4.8 million users in the U.S. and Canada. While a student a Bowdoin, Davich was a member of the bands Second Breakfast and Jim Weeks Philharmonic, named after his proctor. He performed vocals, guitar and keyboard. The Orient spoke to him over the phone about the development of his app since his time at Bowdoin.
Can you start with some basic facts about Songza and how you got started?
First, I’ll give a quick overview of what Songza is. Our goal is to make what you’re doing right now better. And we do that by serving up the perfect, expertly-curated playlists for what you’re doing. So, based on the time of the day, the day of the week and the device that you’re on—and based on anything else we know about you—we’ll recognize what you’re doing and personalize your experience by giving you three or four playlists that are perfectly catered to that moment. We started Songza in 2010, after we had sold our first service, called Amie Street. In March 2012, we came up with the idea for the “music concierge,” and that’s when we started to really make our mark in the music industry and the technology world.
52 Harpswell to be renovated into chem-free dorms
Construction has begun in the conversion of the former Stevens Retirement Home into student housing. The College plans to have the building, located at 52 Harpswell Road, ready to use as a chem-free dorm for the 2014-2015 academic year.
A meeting on Tuesday brought architects and engineers from Harriman Associates—the firm overseeing the renovation—together with students and administrators from the College to discuss ideas for the space.
The Town of Brunswick approved the project last April and the College officially acquired the building in June. The building is located near both the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center and Farley Fieldhouse.
Popularity soars for revamped leadership series
This year’s Leadership Development Series, a program run by the Student Activities Office and the Bowdoin Student Government, launched with a a strong start as enrollment increased from last year.
The program, which has run intermittently for the past few years, brings speakers from members of the Bowdoin campus and the wider community to talk to students on Fridays about practical leadership skills.
Several changes have been made that Nathan Hintze, associate director of student activities, hopes will make the program more accessible. Last year, interested students had to commit to attending a full-year schedule of ten speakers.
Video: Common Good Day 2013
ITAC works to bring Verizon to campus
Dropped calls in places like Thorne and West Halls may soon be a thing of the past. The Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC) is in the process of completing a project that will bring Verizon microcells to spots with weak mobile reception around campus.
This was one of several projects detailed in an email to students from ITAC, a student group dedicated to addressing concerns about technology on campus, on Tuesday. The council’s recent work also includes a new mobile printing app, PolarPrint, and EchoDrive, a Bowdoin-only cloud storage system reminiscent of larger systems like Dropbox.
ITAC had been working to improve Verizon’s coverage on campus off-and-on for the past eight years, but struggled to get through the company’s bureaucracy, said Matt Glatt ’14, ITAC’s co-chairman and founder.