Comprehensive fee exceeds $60,000 for first time
SJP petitions for academic and cultural boycott of Israel
Summer renovations to Tower, Brunswick Apartments, new Media Commons center
Senior Class Gift Campaign and BowdoinOne Day unlock matching grants
Administration addresses high demand for CS spring courses
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.”
Summer renovations to Tower, Brunswick Apartments, new Media Commons center
Returning students will notice that several campus renovations took place over the summer. A new Media Commons was built in Hawthorne-Longfellow (H-L) Library, while the Office of Student Aid has moved to a newly-renovated Ashby House, and student housing was renovated in Coles Tower and Brunswick Apartments.
The new Media Commons is located in the old Scratch Space and is part of the H-L Library basement. It replaces the old Language and Media Center and has more versatile functions. “The goal is to create a media hub,” said Marjorie Hassen, the director of the Bowdoin College Library, who organized the construction of the Media Commons.
In addition to housing media collections, the Media Commons supports film research and media creation. Adjacent to the existing electronic classroom are two screening rooms, a multimedia lab and two productions studios, along with staff support for students.
“We built a space adjacent to the existing space that is already used. This way we are just enhancing what was there.” said Hassen. “So we didn’t start from scratch. And we thought it made sense to bring all these together into one place because it’s all related.”
Growing technology involvement in coursework has prompted the demand for additional facilities and media support.
“There’s more happening on campus now related to film creation, both within and outside film studies. Faculty from other departments are incorporating films and media into their classes.” said Hassen.
“I looked for a classroom every semester and tried everywhere,” said Professor of Asian Studies and Cinema Studies Shu-chin Tsui. She explained that film studies classes require special rooms with the right amount of light and a quality sound system.
Members of the faculty, library staff and IT formed a consulting group last year to discuss the blueprint of the Media Commons. The construction of the Media Commons, paid for with college funds, started in January and was finished in mid-August by Warren Construction Group.
So far there is one course officially scheduled in the Media Commons. All the relevant classes take place in the 18-seat screening room.
“It’s very nice for a small-sized [film studies] class,” said Tsui. “It’s also very convenient. The media library is right next door.”
Other renovation projects were completed over the summer as well, including thorough renovation work that began in February on the existing wood-framed Ashby House that now houses the Office of Student Aid.
“We’re now easily accessible on campus. They did a good job in making it [the] very functional building we need,” said Director of Student Aid Michael Bartini.
Additionally, eight rooms in Brunswick Apartments, Units R & S, were renovated. The renovations included remodeling the kitchens, painting, refinishing floors, general clean up and repairs to some interior plumbing.
The fifth through eighth floors of Coles Tower were also upgraded during the summer. This is part of a trustee-approved project to renovate the Tower, which will continue in the next two summers.
The multi-year project is funded by the College’s deferred maintenance budget and from the proceeds of a bond issue.
“It’s a very different vibe [between the renovated and unrenovated floors]. When you step off the elevator, you’ll notice they’re no longer painted yellow and purple, which makes you feel more at home. It just looks a lot nicer,” said Erin Mullins ’16, who lives on the eighth floor.
In addition to the projects mentioned above, renovations of the historic Harriet Beecher Stowe House at 63 Federal Street will be completed soon. It will function as both a museum open to the public and as an office for faculty on sabbatical.
Senior Class Gift Campaign and BowdoinOne Day unlock matching grants
UPDATE (Tuesday, May 5, 2:10 p.m.): The College reached 4,314 donors by the end of BowdoinOne Day—surpassing the goal of 4,300—and unlocked the $2 million challenge for financial aid according to the final tally posted on bowdoinoneday.com.
The ongoing Senior Class Gift Campaign (SCGC) reached 70 percent participation at press time, unlocking two matching donations worth $10,000 each. Meanwhile, the College awaits the results of BowdoinOne Day, a month-long donation campaign that ended on yesterday. If over 4,300 gifts were given to the College by yesterday, anonymous donors would give $2 million to be used for student financial aid.
Although the One Day website noted that there were 3,976 gifts in total at midnight last night, the Office of Development said that the system takes time to process the gifts and the final number of gifts and amount of money raised will be reported early next week.
“It’s promising,” said Neli Vazquez ’14, the Annual Giving’s alumni fund associate. “I feel good about this year.”
Since January, 38 class agents from diverse backgrounds have been working as liaisons between students and the Office of Development. The mission of the campaign is educating graduating students about the importance of giving back to Bowdoin and encouraging them to contribute to the alumni fund.
“It is an education-based campaign,” said Vazquez. “That’s why the match grant is matched towards participation, and not how much money we raise. We highly focus upon how a gift of five dollars is just as effective as a $50 or a $100, because the percentage is what unlocks the match grant.”
First instituted in 2012, the class agent program has been growing ever since. Class agents talk about SCGC and the alumni fund and stay in touch with the students to whom they are assigned—in most cases their friends.
One of the important jobs of class agents is clearing up misconceptions about how the College raises and uses funds.
“To ensure everyone is getting the message,” said Nancy Walker ’15, one of the SCGC directors. “To ensure that every senior has a 10-minute talk, learning about SCGC and the alumni fund at large, and debunking some rumors that can get floated around—things that can get misconstrued; to ensure everyone is graduating, making the decision to give based on the full most information.”
“The biggest misconception is that the school isn’t in need for anything, because Bowdoin is a prestigious institution and the tuition is high,” added Walker. “People think there is a vault with the endowment, just sitting there, like a McDuck person. But the endowment isn’t sitting behind a safe. X amount of the endowment doesn’t transfer into X amount of expendable money.”
The College’s official website says that 53 percent of the operating budget comes from tuition and fees, and funds taken from the endowment account for 29 percent. Annual giving contributes to only 6 percent of the whole.
Last year the Class of 2014 reached 87.3 percent participation by the end of the year, a historical high, and unlocked a $10,000 matching grant from an anonymous donor; the Class of 2013 had 85 percent participation in the SCGC, according to Kacy Hintze, the associate director of annual giving.
“Our overall goal is 85 percent,” said Walker.
Besides the anonymous donor who challenged the last three graduating classes, President Barry Mills will also commit $10,000 if the participation goal is fulfilled. The donors will give $20,000 scholarships in total to rising first years.
Yesterday was BowdoinOne Day, the final day of the month-long alumni fundraising campaign in April. To earn the $2 million for financial aid from anonymous donors, 4,300 donors, including the graduating senior class, must have donated by yesterday.
For students, BowdoinOne Day is about celebrating school pride and expressing gratitude to the donating alumni. A number of events were organized to engage the student body and encourage social media posts with #BowdoinOneDay.
“We’re really trying to make it a Bowdoin Pride Day that centers on us coming together as a community and thinking about those alumni who had generously made the opportunity and environment we had here possible,” said Vazquez.
There was tabling for thank you notes to alumni, a photo shoot with the polar bear mascot and distribution of free #BowdoinOneDay frisbees on the Quad.
“They are feeding off good sentiments from the campus,” said Hintze. “The reason why we are having students post on social media is that they are showing off how great their experiences are, which makes the alumni feel good about their investment in students.”
This is the third year BowdoinOne Day has occured. In the past, BowdoinOne Day was a 24-hour fundraising campaign, but this year lasted a month and aimed for a higher goal compared to the 1,520 gifts received last year.
Bowdoin has retained a high alumni participation rate, especially the youngest graduating classes, according to Hintze. U.S. News lists Bowdoin as one of the 10 schools where the greatest percent of alumni donate.
“Bowdoin is really fortunate in the sense that the gifts coming from alumni are genuine,” said Vazquez. “We don’t really have to do much to incentivize them. The alumni base is so proud and still so loving of the Bowdoin community that they are willing to give it back to maintain the same experience, if not a better one for future students.”
SJP petitions for academic and cultural boycott of Israel
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is hoping for a student vote on a thorny question: Should the College participate in an academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions? SJP began collecting signatures on a digital petition this week, and if it can garner the support of one fifth of the student body (about 360 signatures), then the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) will organize a referendum that would require a two-thirds majority to pass. At press time, the petition had 156 signatures.
An academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions would mean that the College would not take part in events funded by Israeli institutions or invite scholars to speak on campus as representatives of Israeli institutions. Israeli scholars would be welcome to speak on campus as individuals not affiliated with any organization.
This sort of referendum, if it passed, would be symbolic, according to Vice President for BSG Affairs Charlotte McLaughry ’15.
“They don’t necessarily tangibly mean anything,” she said.
“The goal of the academic and cultural boycott is to isolate parts of the Israeli state apparatus that are normalizing the maltreatment of Palestinians and abuses of their human rights,” said Sinead Lamel ’15, one of the leaders of SJP. “This includes many Israeli universities which haven’t spoken out against the occupation but in fact have endorsed what’s happening and presenting a narrative that erases the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”
J Street U, a student organization that describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” issued a statement in opposition to SJP’s petition.
“J Street U is a secular student group that supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Palestinian right to statehood. However, our student group does not feel that a Bowdoin boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions is a helpful step toward peace,” the statement read.
Bowdoin’s chapter of Hillel, the largest Jewish student organization in the world, declined to take a stance.
“Hillel doesn’t typically speak out on political issues. We tend to be a more apolitical organization,” said Leah Kahn ’15, president of the College’s chapter.
According to its website, Hillel International will not partner with any host organizations that “Support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.”
SJP has reached out to students by tabling in David Saul Smith Union and distributing relevant literature to students.
“I can’t say if I exactly see it making [it to the ballot],” said Lilian Gharios ’18, a member of the SJP. “We [have] a lot of different kinds of students, students who are interested and not interested. Personally, I’m not too concerned about getting it on the ballot as long as the students are having an incentive to learn about Israel and Palestine and at the same time learn about SJP.”
Many students said they were undecided or felt uninformed about the issue.
“I don’t think I’m educated enough on that particular issue to speak which side I take,” said Ned Wang ’18.
Others had strong opinions on the boycott.
“The United States is the biggest sponsor of Israel, and Israel is a huge recipient of U.S. military aid,” said Christine Rheem ’15. “Our tax money is literally supporting what Israel is doing and the occupation of Palestine. I think we are all implicated.”
In December 2013, SJP sponsored a similar petition asking the College to join a boycott of Israeli academic institutions sponsored by the American Studies Association (ASA). At the time, President Barry Mills condemned the boycott for stifling the free exchange of ideas.
The current petition proposes that the boycott remain in place until Israel “ends its occupation and colonization of all Palestinian lands,” among other demands.
SJP is also trying to persuade BSG to issue a statement on the boycott. BSG would have to first vote on whether to make a statement and then vote on what stance to take, and it is unlikely that it will be able to hold a vote before the end of the semester, according to McLaughry.
Sailing starts off strong as they hope to return to nationals
After posting impressive finishes in three regattas two weeks ago, the sailing team competed in two team race regattas last weekend and again excelled. The coed sailors finished second out of six teams in the Staake Trophy, thereby qualifying for the New England Team Race Championship. In addition, the women’s team pulled out solid races at the Duplin Trophy, finishing third out of ten teams.
The Polar Bears had a series of tight races against three other top teams in the Staake Trophy at Connecticut College, finishing with a record of 7-3. The Staake featured a series of races pitting two teams against each other with three boats each, a type of competition known as a team race regatta.
Each boat was assigned a point value corresponding to the place in which it finished, and the team that finishes with 10 or fewer points wins.
According to Head Coach Frank Pizzo, several races were determined within the final 20 feet before the finish line.
“We were pretty happy about our performance on Saturday,” said skipper Michael Croteau ’15. “[But] we knew that we needed to sail well on Sunday, because the top four teams all had five or six wins. We were all one win apart. And only two teams are going to be qualified.”
One of the team’s most competitive races was against Boston University (BU) in the second round robin on Sunday.
The team had just lost to Connecticut College in the same round and was looking to avenge a loss to BU from the day before.
“It was a must-win race for us. That was the race that sealed our fate,” said Pizzo.
Early on, the Terriers had boats in both first and second place, but Bowdoin was able to take the top spot and put two boats ahead of BU’s second. This rebound from third-fourth-sixth to first-third-fourth secured Bowdoin’s win.
“If we didn’t win that race, we wouldn’t be moving on,” said Croteau. “On the last leg, we basically got their boats slowed by getting to tack and duels. We had them do some extra boat handling, and forcing them to sail into adverse currents. So my teammates sailed fast and got ahead.”
It was the first regatta for the coed team after the team’s Spring Break trip to California. Competing were Jack McGuire ’17, Charlotte Williamson ’15, Harrison Hawk ’18, Julia Rew ’16, Michael Croteau ’15, Mimi Paz ’17, Olivia Diserio ’16 and Matt Lyons ’17.
After a first-place finish at St. Mary’s Women’s Interconference, the women’s team finished with a best-ever record of 12-6 at Duplin Trophy in Tufts last weekend, earning a third-place finish. The shifty wind pattern on Sunday, however, produced several unexpected incidents.
“We had a race against Brown. We were trying to execute a difficult play,” said Lizzy Hamilton ’15. “My teammates did a good job executing it. Right before finishing the race, we finally made the play work and we were going to win. [But] there was a huge wind shift, so we ended up losing the race.”
“We ended up losing a couple of races [on Sunday],” said Pizzo. “But it was still a good day. We beat a bunch of teams—there is a lot of competition.”
Lizzy Hamilton ’15, Jade Willey ’17, Ellis Price ’18, Courtney Koos ’16, Sydney Jacques ’18, Erin Mullins ’16, and Emily Salitan ’16 all sailed at the Duplin Trophy.
Due to unseasonably cold weather, the team did not get many chances to practice before its spring regattas.
“We haven’t had a lot of practice leading up to the regatta. We were excited to be out on the water,” said Croteau.
The Polar Bears are ready to compete at the BU Trophy, the Marchiando Team Reace, the Dellenbaugh Trophy and the Barque Eagle Team Race this weekend.
Thanks to their finish in the Staake Trophy, they will travel to Harvard for the New England Team Race Championship on April 11 and 12.
3 Bowdoin students win national fellowships
Decisions are coming in for Bowdoin students who applied to national fellowships and grant programs. These decisions not only demonstrate the student body’s commitment to service and education, but also its international presence.
To date, Phui Yi Kong ’15 has been named a recipient of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship travel grant, Will Ossoff ’15 was selected as a Junior Fellow for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Scott Mitchell ’15 won a Davis Projects for Peace grant.
Updates on the Fulbright, Udall, and Truman scholars are forthcoming.
Bowdoin is one of only 40 schools that nominate students for the $30,000 Watson Fellowship grant. The program offers college graduates a year of independent exploration through international travel.
Kong is an English and theater interdisciplinary major who graduated in December. She stood out from 700 national finalists to become one of 50 Watson recipients and will travel to four countries with her grant. While abroad, she will explore martial arts and physical theater and study their role in fostering civic action.
“It’s the first application I felt I could, to a large extent, divorce myself from the parental voices and societal gaze,” Kong said. “The affirmation received from the award after such an independently minded application process is multiple fold—namely empowerment through responsibility and agency.”
Director of Student Fellowships and Research Cindy Stocks said the Watson Fellowship is about finding the right match, because it is such a unique opportunity.
“[Watson] is looking for individuals of unusual promise who need to carry out those projects and deepen their understanding around a particular issue,” she said. “One of the things that make a good Watson project is that what the person wants to do cannot be accomplished in any other way.”
Ossoff, a government major and history minor, will join the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a Junior Fellow in August. Each year the organization selects 10 to 12 graduating seniors nationwide to study issues promoting active international engagement.
According to Stocks, the admission rate is four percent and Ossoff is the first Bowdoin student to accept the award. He will start as a research assistant for the endowment’s senior associates who work on nuclear policy program.
“I’ve always been interested in peace, diplomacy and human rights,” Ossof said. “This seems like one way to address that.”
Davis Projects for the Peace awarded Mitchell a $10,000 grant as a part of its initiative to support students who want to pursue grassroots projects.
Through his project, “Stand With Me,” Mitchell has designed an affordable pediatric stander, a standing device used for children with developmental or physical difficulties.
So far, Mitchell’s stander has been distributed in Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, China and North Korea. With his Davis grant, he will travel to South America to collect feedback and teach local therapists and patients how to find resources and even make the device by themselves.
Bowdoin alumna Linda Kinstler ’13, a former editor in chief of the Orient, won a Marshall Scholarship to study at two graduate schools in the United Kingdom.
The Office of Student Fellowships and Research said that there are 20 Fulbright finalists this year. However, only 12 finalists have been contacted at this time. Overall, 16 finalists applied to English Teaching Assistantships and four hope to pursue research.
The Chronicle of Higher Education named Bowdoin a top producer of Fulbright scholars for 2014-2015, and Stocks said she expects even more Fulbridge wins this year.“It’s going to be a record breaking year,” Stocks said.
Men’s swim and dive places sixth at NESCACs
The men’s swimming and diving team finished comfortably at sixth place in the NESCAC championship meet last weekend. The finish was the Polar Bears’ best team score since 2012, and the meet was highlighted by the admirable performance of several swimmers and divers.
Michael Netto ’18 was named All-Conference in the 50-yard breaststroke, and diver Tommy Kramer ’15 was recognized as the Four Year High Point Diver. The NESCAC championship took place at Middlebury College over three days.
Compared to other schools, the Polar Bears possessed considerable strength in the short races. According to Head Coach Brad Burnham,the Polar Bears did well all the way up to the 200m.
Netto stood out in his first appearance in a NESCAC championship meet.
He posted the highest individual finish of the weekend for the Polar Bears by taking second in the 50 breaststroke (25.64), sixth in the 100breaststroke (57.24) and seventh in the 50 butterfly (23.14). Logan House ’17 placed the seventh in the 50 butterfly (23.14). He also set the school record in the 100 butterfly last year.
“My butterfly was definitely not as strong as last year, but on the bright side my freestyle got a little bit faster,” said House. “Next year I’ll start over and make a better balance between strokes.”
Senior diver Kramer closes out his NESCAC career by achieving the best combined finish at the conference championships. He took fourth in the 3-meter dive (469.45) and fifth in the 1-meter diving competition (432.25).
Overall, the Polar Bears had a smooth run without major hiccups, unlike last year where the team bore a 48-point loss due to the disqualification of a relay team.
According to Coach Burnham, the major challenge is the exhaustion from such a long event. Despite this fact, Bowdoin’s best relay of the weekend came on Sunday when the 400 free relay team of House, John Lagasse ’16, Will Hutchinson ’18 and William Shi ’15 placed fourth with a time of 3:06.02.
No major injuries were sustained during the championship, but two swimmers—Shi and Greg Koziol ’17—had just recovered from concussions.Shi hadn’t been in the pool for two weeks prior to the competition.
“When they went to rest, they were not quite in the same place as everybody else,” said Coach Burnham, “They had two weeks of no activity. [But] we were in the process of building up physical capacity. I don’t know what’s exactly going on physiologically. It’s definitely a different thing for them.”
Bowdoin and Bates have a long-time rivalry in swimming. Last year, the Polar Bears snatched the fifth spot over the Bobcats by a merehalf point, under the pressure of the unintentional 48-point loss. This year, Bates stands ahead of Bowdoin with 190 points.
“We have hopes, dreams and goals we would like to achieve. Sometimes the guys choose dependent goals, which means no matter what we do, we have to worry about other teams,” said Coach Burnham. “Bates has been our rival for years. We’ve been going back and forth with them for years in team totals. It’s always on the guys’ mind. That’s a kind of instinct of how we are doing. This year we fell behind Bates. They just have people who can swim faster and won more points.”
This weekend, Kramer will participate in the Northeast Regional Diving Championship in Springfield, MA. He is confident and looking forward to this meet.
“I feel weirdly calm about it. Again it’s just really practice. It’s no different from anything I’ve done any other day. I just went and did that meet this past weekend. And I’ll just have to do it again,” he said.
BSG reviews funding for student groups on campus
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) allocated funds to several projects during its Wednesday night meeting. Two proposals passed—one funding an Uncommon Hour lecture and the other Mental Health Awareness Day.
The Student Activity Funding Committee (SAFC) then voiced its concerns about paying for clubs’ extensive travel expenses.
Representative At-Large Lucia Gibbard ’18, who works for the Orient, discussed the ongoing funding dilemma faced by clubs like Model United Nations (MUN), which travels frequently to conferences. BSG has been cautious in handling funding requests of this kind in the past. The chair of the SAFC, Ryan Davis ’15 was absent from the meeting, but was represented by other members of the committee.
“The whole situation is pretty convoluted,” said Representative At-Large Liam Nicoll ’18, who sits on the Student Organization Oversight Committee (SOOC).
Nicoll noted that the BSG must be careful when handling the allocation of funds to clubs like MUN, whose requested budget would consume a large amount of student club funding and set a dangerous precedent.
“You can’t override the precedent for one club. Then that’ll set the precedent of overfunding for every club,” Nicoll said.
Representative At-Large Nickie Mitch ’18, who also works for the Orient, pointed out that funding the participation of MUN in regional and national conferences is standard practice at many colleges.
“I’m not sure the concern about precedent is entirely valid because it’s a pretty select activity,” he said. “If there were other activities like MUN requiring all the traveling stuff, I don’t think it would be wrong for MUN to be the precedent to fund them.”
Conversation then moved to discussion of the ability of clubs to hold their own fundraising events.
“There is a lot of fundraising happening on campus right now. Students can raise money among students. They can raise money by providing service,” said Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Student Activities Allen Delong. “What we don’t want is that more than 120 student organizations to go out and say, ‘There is not enough money for us to do this thing at Bowdoin. Can you support that?’”
BSG did not find a solution to funding clubs like MUN, but it did approve $100 for food and advertising for the Uncommon Hour lecture set to take place on February 20.
BSG also authorized the expenditure of $475 for the cost of Mental Health Awareness Day, which took place on February 9.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated that Liam Nicoll sat on the SAFC. He is, in fact, part of the SOOC.
Men’s hockey splits its games over break
The men’s hockey team recovered from a three-goal deficit, besting Wesleyan (2-12-0 overall, 1-7-0 NESCAC) 4-3 in a battle on Saturday evening in Watson Arena. Three days later the Polar Bears returned to the ice and beat the University of New England (6-10-1) 4-2. The victory brought the Polar Bears’ record to 9-4-2 (4-4-2 NESCAC).
After falling behind 3-0 in the first period against Wesleyan, the Polar Bears scored one in the second and notched three in the final period to secure the win.
The team’s success was limited in the three games prior to this comeback. The team tied 4-4 at Hamilton (5-5-4 overall, 4-3-2 NESCAC) on January 9 before falling 4-2 to Amherst (10-3-2 overall, 6-3-2 NESCAC) on January 10 and 2-1 to Trinity (12-1-1 overall, 7-0-1 NESCAC) on January 16.
“Hamilton is a very difficult trip, the longest trip we made. We were behind and we showed resiliency and came back,” said Head Coach Terry Meagher. “On Saturday we played a good game as we played all year and we ended up losing to Amherst.”
In the tightly contested matchup against Amherst, the Lord Jeffs’ goalie Dave Cunningham made a total of 45 saves in the face of heavy pressure from Bowdoin’s offense.
“They have one of the top goaltenders in the East,” said Meagher. “Again, we played a solid game. But goal sports, especially ice hockey, are challenging as the goaltender is so significant in the play.”
Bowdoin sits at fifth in the NESCAC behind Trinity, Williams, Amherst and Hamilton. “We’ve done well in handling adversity,” said Captain Ryan Collier ’15. “We had some challenges in scoring goals in the last eight games or so. But we keep our heads high and keep going, which we know will eventually allow us to get back to scoring goals and winning more hockey games.”
This year, 20 of the 34 team members are underclassmen. The first-years and sophomores have managed to hold their own. Forward Matthew Melanson ’18 scored the winning goal against Wesleyan.
The Polar Bears return to NESCAC play tonight at Middlebury (6-2-2 overall, 3-2-2 NESCAC) and will play at Williams (9-3-2 overall, 5-2-1 NESCAC) tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Administration addresses high demand for CS spring courses
Dozens of students were unable to enroll in next semester’s computer science courses because of skyrocketing demand for the department’s classes.
Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd and her office met with computer science faculty during registration to ensure that all junior and senior majors will be able to register for courses they need during the add/drop period, but many sophomores intending to major in computer science were left without any options.
Computer science professors have agreed to teach additional sections of their classes and plan to allow their class sizes to surpass the limits set at the beginning of registration. However, students and faculty are concerned that increasing class sizes and course offerings without adding more professors will negatively impact the quality of Bowdoin’s computer science curriculum instruction.
Judd wrote in an email to the Orient that the Office of Academic Affairs is working with the computer science department to write registration rules that will ensure “that the right populations of students have the highest priority for the appropriate courses.” She wrote that sophomores who intend to declare majors are one of these populations.
According to the Office of the Registrar, all computer science courses were filled after Round One of registration. Social and Economic Networks, taught by Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science Mohammad Irfan, was the most sought after course; it received about 50 requests for only 22 spots. The College has since added a second section of this course, which will also be taught by Irfan. Judd wrote that it is not unusual for her office to add or remove sections of courses during Round Two of registration. “It’s usual for a class to be over enrolled,” said Maddie Bustamante ’17, a cofounder of Bowdoin Women in Computer Science (BWICS). “But when there’s this many overenrolled, it’s just crazy.”
Bustamante added that this reality is particularly difficult for potential sophomore majors, who will have to load up on computer science courses once they have priority during junior and senior years. “All the people who started later need all the classes they could get without overloading themselves,” she said. “If they don’t get both classes for next term, they might have to take three classes in another term, which is a very heavy workload in computer science.” The situation is even more difficult for sophomores who plan on studying abroad. “If you want go abroad, unless you can count on having some of your courses abroad towards major credit, then you come back from being abroad and need to take three courses of [computer science] every semester until you graduate,” said Majercik.
Currently there are widespread worries among the affected students about whether they will be able to count on getting classes they want in the future. With this low chance of getting in, many students can feel discouraged from majoring or minoring in computer science.
“My class was up to 39, but a couple of students unregistered because they thought it was hopeless.” said Majercik. “They asked me: ‘do I have a chance of even getting in?’ What they were saying was that they are trying to decide whether they should register for Nature-inspired Computation and hope maybe they’ll be lucky. Or they should not do that, and maybe that’s a waste of registration slot. Spend their slot on another course so that they don’t get locked out of that course.”
Women have been long been underrepresented in computer science courses at the College. About 10 percent of Bowdoin majors now are women, eight points below the national average of 18 percent. The recent difficulties with registration have hurt BWICS’ effort to recruit more women to study computer science.
“It’s been very frustrating for us.” said Bustamante. “We are trying really hard to bring women into CS courses. It becomes much more difficult to bring women into it, when the chance of getting our courses is this low.”
The College’s inability to meet demand in the Department of Computer Science is not new this year. Like many colleges around the country, Bowdoin has witnessed rapidly growing interest in computer science courses in recent years. Last year, the Orient reported that students were experiencing difficulty registering for the department’s introductory-level courses. The College resolved the problem by expanding class sizes.
“We’ve started to see an increase in interest in intro classes a couple of years ago,” said Toma. “We used to teach two intro classes every semester with 22 each. As the demand went up, we doubled the class size. So we are teaching two intro classes capped at 44 each. Then last semester, we also doubled the size of two classes of Data Structures.
Professor of Computer Science Eric Chown predicted that the increased demand for courses will be unlikely to reside. The number, he said, may only get worse as more students are unable to take computer science courses. Upper-level courses, which require more personal interaction than introductory-level courses, could have particular challenges catering to rising demands.
According to Chown, the Data Structures course places a natural limit on how many students can take upper-level courses, because it is a prerequisite for nearly all of the advanced classes. With twice as many students completing Data Structure last year, 100-130 students may try to enroll for upper level courses in the Fall of 2015, which Chown said is two to three times more students than the department has enrolled in those courses previous years.
“It’s carrying over,” said Toma. “Of course high demand in intro class means high demand in everything else in the sequence. Next semester it means higher demand for everything essentially.”
Majercik agreed that the department will soon be facing an insufficient number of upper level courses.
“We’ve enlarged our capacity at the beginning of the pipeline, but we still haven’t enlarged enough at the end of the pipeline.”
Aware of these looming issues, students have become involved in efforts to encourage the College to take action. Last fall 80 students signed a petition for the College to hire an additional professor in the department. This year, another petition with 23 prospective majors or minors was emailed to Judd. It asked for Judd to communicate with students who could not get into the courses they wanted to.
“We are concerned that women who were on the path to major or minor in computer science previously will be deterred by the quality of such over-enrolled classes, and by the fact that they may need to change their future plans in terms of classes, studying abroad, and exploring other fields,” representatives for BWICS wrote in an email to Judd this week.
“The main response I got was very defensive,” said Caroline Pierce ’16, who led the petition last year, “I think it’s a problem they are working on, but I don’t know how high a priority this is for them.”
“Another thing that frustrated us was that they said it is a temporary problem,” said Bustamante. “Essentially we want to grow the department and make it more interesting and attractive to people. If they just take it as a temporary problem, that itself is a problem. We need more professors, more resources, to attract more people.”
Some students expressed their concern over the quality of education they will receive in overenrolled courses.
“I’m not worried in the sense that I will not graduate,” said Pierce. “But I’m worried in the sense that I don’t think I will be able to take the classes that I want to take or leave here feeling like I haven’t got enough out of the computer science department and my computer science major.”
“I’ve been seeing these guys working all the time,” said Liam Taylor ’17. “They work, perhaps unreasonably, to just try to get the things done, to answer all the questions. I know my professor has expanded his office hours. He is staying in the evening twice a week. And that’s kind of unusual in the first place.”
According to Judd, her office does not believe that the increased class sizes will significantly diminish the quality of the department’s courses.
“We are confident that students will have the quality of experience that we all expect of a Bowdoin education,” she said. “The numbers are larger than we have historically seen in computer science and so the classes may feel different to seniors who began when the department was one of the smallest majors in the College. The class sizes for the spring are still well within the Bowdoin range of small classes.”
Sailing finishes its fall season on high note
On November 15, the women’s sailing team outdid last season’s stellar performance, finishing fourth out of 18 teams at the Women’s Atlantic Coast Championship (ACC) at MIT. The team’s highest-ever ranking marks the end of the fall season and sets the tone for a prospective national championship meet in the spring. The Polar Bears also competed at the Atlantic Coast Tournament (ACT) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The coed team braved the tough weather to achieve seventh among 15 teams.
The meets last weekend were the last set of regattas for the team’s fall season.
According to Head Coach Frank Pizzo, the Charles River venue can be challenging because of the buildings surrounding the river, which significantly affect the breeze direction. In addition, the less-than-ideal weather increased the unpredictability of the results.
“It was just so windy. A lot of teams were struggling, and we struggled too, but relatively we struggled less,” said skipper Courtney Koos ’16. “A lot of boats were flipping over. People got cold and tired and got really discouraged. But we persevered, which is good.”
“I think we had that advantage coming from Maine. We sail like this every day,” said skipper Erin Mullins ’16.
The women’s team sailed ten races on Saturday and eight more on Sunday. Despite shifty wind patterns and harsh cold, A Division sailers put up good races with consistent averages, while B Division sailers produced more erratic results in the tough conditions.
Pizzo emphasized the stiff competition at the ACC, saying that “all the best teams in the country are on the East Coast, with the exception of Stanford.”
In this highly competitive environment, Bowdoin sailors navigated their way to the top four, just one point shy of tying Georgetown, which ranks third overall.
The women’s team finished thirteenth overall in the ACC last year. This year, the team’s frequent practices and focus on fitness translated into remarkable progress.
“We’ve been building our fitness stuff for years now,” said Pizzo. “The strength coach here has got a really good program for our team. The team works out twice a week in the season, and we have a lot more work out of season.”
“We are working really hard off the water,” said Koos, who said that the team wanted to “make sure we are as strong as we can be, as mentally tough as we can be, and as educated as we can be about sailing.” She cited tactical conversations with their coach as an important factor in the team’s improvement.
“We’ve been practicing since August, so it’s been a long season. We sailed almost every single weekend,” said Mullins.
Competing at the women’s ACCs were skipper Erin Mullins ’16, crew Dana Bloch ’17, skipper Courtney Koos ’16, and crew Frances Jimenez ’16.
A coed team sent to ACT also showed its potential by putting up good scores against 14 teams in one of the toughest events. The team included skipper Chester Jacobs ’17, crew Hunter Moeller ’17, skipper Matt Lyons ’17, crew Paige Speight ’16, and skipper Phil Koch ’15.
Pizzo was not surprised by the team’s strong results last weekend due to its consistent sailing throughout the season.
“Our conference championship was four weeks before at Dartmouth. The team finished fourth there as well. They knew they could do well,” he said.
In the wake of the their achievements over the past two years, the Polar Bears hope to carry their success all the way to nationals in the spring.
Students Do It in the Dark to reduce energy usage
The campus saved 6,178 kilowatt-hours during the “Do It in the Dark” energy competition, which took place throughout the month of October. Twelve of the 20 dorms used less energy in October than in September. Helmreich House led the way with a 32.3 percent reduction in energy usage, and West Hall performed best among first-year bricks, with a 22 percent reduction relative to 2013.
The annual energy competition began in 2001 and is meant to encourage sustainable habits.
“Our goal is not to drive people to do some extremes just for the sake to prove they can use less energy,” said Keisha Payson, coordinator for a sustainable Bowdoin. “But the point is to drive people to take on a different habit, like shutting lights off when they leave the room. Hopefully by doing that for a month, we will ultimately instill the habit so people can continue on after the competition is over.”
To encourage participation, the Sustainability Office awards $150 prizes to the winning first-year brick and College House. In addition, the buidling that improved most in the second half of October is also rewarded.
“There are many factors coming into play in picking a winner,” said Kristin Hanczor, the sustainability outreach coordinator. “We have the website called [Building Dashboard]. Almost all of our residences are hooked up with the meter of electricity. We use that in order to run the energy competition and to see how houses are improved.”
Buildings participating in the competition vary in size and energy efficiency, and the Sustainability Office tries to account for these differences by ranking buildings based on their improvement in energy usage per person per square foot.
“We understand that some Houses are inherently more efficient than other houses, just based on their structure and their systems,” said Hanczor. “We compare the data between that year and the year before. We focus on that reduction percentage. It’s not a direct comparison between Helmreich and Baxter because they are different houses.”
Kahla Vise ’16, the Eco-Rep for Howell House, said that because Howell has an old, inefficient heating system, its residents cannot save an amount of energy that will translate into a large percentage reduction. Since winning the competition seemed out of the question, Vise motivated her housemates by offering to buy them gelato if they hit certain reduction goals.Currently, there are 16 Eco-Reps on campus, and it is their job to raise awareness about sustainable habits. Eco-Reps often end up reminding other students about details and small changes they can make to save energy.
“When you are an Eco-Rep, you are trying to ask people who are already very busy to do other things they may not necessarily want to do, but are good for the environment,” said Vise.Eco-Reps generally attempt to remind dorm and house members how they can reduce their usage.
“In our house every weekend, we have a house meeting where we go over a bunch of things that happened in the week,” said Andrew Cawley ’17, the Eco-Rep of MacMillan House, which earned second place in this year’s competition. “I just make the point to remind people that the energy competition is still going on. Remember to keep turning off the lights. Keep our showers to the minimum.”
In the winning dorms, residents made a conscious and collective effort to reduce their energy usage.
“When we were talking about it in the House, we just kind of got to the consensus that we are going to turn lights and TVs off if we are not using them,” said Jack Truskowski ’17, a resident of Helmreich House. “Everyone has done their part. Whenever I walk past people’s rooms, lights are always off.”
Payson noted that the reduction does not always stick.
“Students are usually good at keeping the energy down after the competition through the end of the semester,” she said. “But I’ve seen when they come back from winter break, I don’t necessarily see the same decrease [in energy usage]. Part of it might be due to the weather. It’s usually colder in late January than December.”
New dining app offers OneCard info and dietary filters
The Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC) released a new Bowdoin Dining App on Thursday. With the new app, Bowdoin Students can now check OneCard and meal plan information on their cell phones in addition to viewing dining hall menus. Students with special dietary restrictions can also set different filters that account for their needs.
According to ITAC, almost 200 students downloaded the new software on the day of its release.
“I like it,” said Helen Gandler ’17, who started using the new app on its first day available. “It’s a lot like the old one but has some cool new features. You can also filter out the dietary option. My roommate is gluten-free, so she is free to see which dining hall has more options she likes.”Donald Chute ’15 also praised the new app.
“I like the features of the new one, which shows how much you have left on your meal plan. I think that’s a pretty big thing,” Chute said. “The old one is pretty simplistic. So I think there’s an improvement.”
Ruben Martinez ’15, president of ITAC and the primary programmer of the new dining app, has been gathering student feedback in order to help make improvements to the app.
“I got tons of feedback on day one,” Martinez said. “I’m working on the things people mentioned to make updates. We are still collecting feedback.”
One of the concerns that has been voiced is that the new Dining app is only available on Apple devices. Some students would like an app that is compatible with Android devices.
In 2009, Ben Johnson ’11 invented the Bowdoin Dining App, the first Bowdoin mobile app. While Martinez used Johnson’s app as a guide, the new app is separate from the original version.
A student-run organization, ITAC is designed to find ways to improve students’ lives with technology, according to Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis.
“Our focuses are what problems are out there now and how can we fix them,” said Martinez “And usually our solutions are technology.”
Apart from the new Bowdoin Dining app, current ITAC projects also include making it possible to order from Jack Magee’s Pub and Grill online, moving file storage from Microwave to a new system called Icebox and improving Verizon Wireless cellular coverage on campus.
“[For pub online ordering] we are actually working on a prototype first,” said Martinez. “And once we have that, we are going to start a very small trial, like ten people.”
According to Martinez, after the website is built, ITAC will integrate the site with the Bowdoin Dining app.
Although Martinez does not have an exact release date for the online pub ordering system, but he hopes that it can be completed by the end of the semester.
Building a Minyan: a look at Hillel’s Rosh Hashanah
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, many Jewish students realize how far they are from their families, but they are able to celebrate the Jewish New Year with a figurative family here at the College. On September 24 and 25, Hillel, Bowdoin’s Jewish student organization, hosted its annual Rosh Hashanah service and dinner.
Over 60 students of different faiths participated in Hillel’s Rosh Hashanah events last year. A comparable number of students attended the service and dinner this year.
According to Leah Kahn ’15, the president of Hillel, around 10 percent of the Bowdoin student body identifies as Jewish. About 160 students are involved in Hillel.
“We really work to get the Jewish community on campus,” said Kahn. “It’s the first time for many people to be away from family. And these holidays are really family-centric. We want to make it accessible for students to experience their High Holiday services in a similar way to how they did at home.”
Rosh Hashanah starts at sunset and lasts two days. Hillel observes it with services, a dinner and a luncheon for students, faculty and local residents.
“We have special foods that are traditional for the Rosh Hashanah meal,” said Rachel Connelly, an economics professor. “There are apples and honey, pomegranates and traditional bread.”
“Bowdoin does a pretty good job,” said Jared Feldman ’16, who identifies as Jewish and spent the holiday with his family before coming to Bowdoin. “People all come out for this event. This is the closest I can get to a family.”
As the only Jewish community in Brunswick, Hillel frequently hosts Shabbat services on Friday nights. It also sponsors High Holidays celebrations and lectures by distinguished speakers.
“One thing I think is great about the Jewish community at Bowdoin and Hillel as an organization is that people who are Jewish and who are non-Jewish are coming together,” said Emily Weinberger ’15. “So it’s a nice way to share cultures and traditions.”
Many faculty members and administrators attend Rosh Hashanah services and other events hosted by Hillel, including President Barry Mills, math professor Jennifer Taback in the mathematics department and Marilyn Reizbaum, a professor in both the English and gay and lesbian studies departments.
Though this is Hillel’s first major service and dinner of the year, the group already celebrated a big milestone earlier in September when a second Torah was dedicated to Bowdoin’s Jewish community.
“It is a big year for Bowdoin Hillel,” said Kahn. “The Torah is a holy handwritten manuscript of the Bible in Hebrew. It is very holy, very sacred. We are not even a synagogue. Now we have two Torahs. It’s special because we can have one [open to] the end [of the text] and one starting from the beginning. Within the Jewish community it’s something we boast: how many Torahs do you have?”