Sarah DrummNumber of articles: 12
First article: November 21, 2014
Latest article: November 4, 2016
Endowment sees first negative return in seven years
Football player turned farmer: Trevor Kenkel ’18 makes a mark on sustainable agriculture
Dinesh D'Souza speaks on race, political correctness
Friendsy frenzy: new social app polarizes student body
Students and College Guild bring education behind bars
Dinesh D'Souza speaks on race, political correctness
Dinesh D’Souza, a neoconservative political commentator, spoke to an overflowing crowd in the Main Lounge in Moulton Union on Tuesday night about his thoughts on the ideological origins of the two major American political parties, the one-sidedness of the current political system and his perception of the dangers of a lack of intellectual diversity on Bowdoin’s campus.
Discussing political correctness at Bowdoin, D’Souza warned students of the dangers of using witch hunting as a solution.
“Here we are at Bowdoin College. We’ve got this diverse body of students,” he said. “You have to learn to get along and you have to learn to talk with each other but it can’t be a one sided discussion so rigged with political correctness that everybody is walking in a political minefield in which you can’t actually speak your mind because you are under immediate indictment for being a racist. You can’t do that. That makes no sense.”
While he didn’t discuss specific incidents that have occurred at the College, D’Souza urged students to be more careful in what they deem to be racist words or actions.
“In today’s climate let’s keep in mind proportionality,” he said. “There is racism and there is stupid stuff that you shouldn’t have said.”
In an interview with the Orient, D’Souza spoke of the risk of a lack of intellectual diversity on a campus like Bowdoin, where he said the student body is intellectually and socioeconomically homogenous.
“This is a very fine and demanding intellectual environment, but it always has the risk of insularity … of having the risk of being cut off from the larger currents of the world,” he said.
D’Souza believes political correctness has gotten worse on campuses since he published his book “Illiberal Education” in 1991. As an example, he questioned the audience to think about how many professors at Bowdoin are outspoken in their religious views.
“To me, this diversity game is a little bit rigged,” he said. “There’s so much emphasis on racial diversity, gender diversity, transgender diversity and the most important type of diversity, intellectual diversity? A little bit scarce.”
He told the Orient that if the College could not encourage more intellectual diversity of its faculty through hiring practices, it should fill those voids with speakers who hold less-common viewpoints among the faculty and students.
D’Souza also addressed American history, tracing the history of the two major parties back to the days of slavery.
“The main opposition to the Civil Rights movement came from the Democratic party,” he said. “If the Democratic party was the only party in congress—no Republicans—none of these laws would have passed. Why don’t we all know all this?”
He cited the 1930s as a time of radical change in the support base for the Democratic party due to the economic benefits of the New Deal, which he said encouraged African Americans to leave the Republican party. Starting in the 1960s, accelerating in the 1970s but solidifying in the the Reagan era, southern white Democratic support, he said, transitioned to the Republican party as it came to stand for ideals of free markets, privatization and patriotism.
“There has been this political migration,” he said. “But this migration has nothing to do with race.”
D’Souza believes the Democratic party has failed to take responsibility for the role it has played in racism throughout American history.
“To me, this is the essential backdrop of trying to understand our situation now,” he said.
He further condemned the media and academia for contributing to the disruption of democracy by generating a one-sidedness to the flow of information that leaves little room for a well-publicized right wing voice.
“The problem as I see it is many things in American public life are said to be true but are not true,” he said. “But the reason they are believed to be true is because the political left dominates the three biggest megaphones of our culture: academia, Hollywood and the media.”
Describing next week’s election as “the most surreal” he has seen in his lifetime, D’Souza warned against third-party voting and praised Donald Trump for his ability to challenge the parameters of current political thought. He criticized Clinton for her track record as Secretary of State and described voting for the candidate as voting for a “known crook.”
When D’Souza last visited Bowdoin in 2007, he spoke about the war in Iraq. At the time, co-president of the College Democrats Charlie Ticotsky ’07 criticized the College Republicans for their choice to bring D’Souza to campus, saying “he is known for his obscene, intolerant and racially charged assertions on race and foreign policy.”
Tom Lucy ’19, a member of the College Republicans, commended D’Souza for voicing the need for more intellectual diversity on campus, something he thinks the College has failed to properly address.
“The College has done a phenomenal job diversifying the campus in terms of race and ethnicity and we think that’s a great thing, but that the College still has some work to do in terms of intellectual diversity,” said Lucy.
Francisco Navarro ’19, co-leader of the College Republicans, said that the sheer number of students in attendance at D’Souza’s lecture is evidence of both the interest in and need for more diverse voices on campus.
“It was very rewarding to see students engaged in a respectful and challenging manner,” he said. “It’s opened a door of discussion that we must continue and having a speaker present doesn’t have to be the only moment when we have these conversations.”
While many students respected the voicing of an alternative political viewpoint, many expressed disagreement with his sentiments.
Justin Weathers ’18 thought it was valuable to have D’Souza give students the opportunity to challenge their own views and exchange ideas. However, he took issue with D’Souza’s responses to questions about race.
“My issues came when he was making blanket statements about things he’s not knowledgeable about,” said Weathers. “A lot of scholars come to talk on campus, and [D’Souza] is not a scholar on race … I feel like he made some pretty strong claims and left out a lot of the facts and complexities that go into his reasoning. I think that choosing to leave out those facts is a miseducation.”
Tharun Vemulapalli ’19 echoed Weathers’ sentiments.
“I feel that his interpretation of history is misconstrued in many ways. His interpretation of racism didn’t take into account all aspects of racism—it was a very limited definition,” he said.
Seamus Keenan ’20 thought it was refreshing to hear a talk that didn’t emphasize race.
“He knew what he was doing coming in here. When questions of race came up he didn’t really go that deep into it. I think that’s good because I think sometimes race is overamplified in every discussion, especially on this campus,” he said.
Endowment sees first negative return in seven years
Bowdoin’s endowment generated an investment return of -1.4 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2016, a marked drop from last year’s 14.4 percent increase. According to Cambridge Associates, a firm that tracks endowment performance across the country, Bowdoin’s return remains in the top quartile of its peer institutions despite the drop.
This year’s result marks the first negative return the College has seen since 2009, when the value of the endowment decreased 17 percent. In the period from 2009 to 2015, however, the endowment nearly doubled, increasing from $689 billion to $1.393 billion. As of June 30, 2016, the endowment was valued at $1.340 billion—a loss of approximately $53 million from last year.
American colleges and universities saw a mean return of -2.9 percent this fiscal year, according to Cambridge Associates. Other NESCAC schools also experienced negative returns, with Middlebury College reporting a 4.5 percent loss and Trinity College experiencing a drop of 5.4 percent.
Despite the year’s challenging market conditions, Bowdoin’s negative return does not concern President Clayton Rose or Senior Vice President for Investments Paula Volent.
Volent identified overvaluation of the private equity market, record-low interest rates and oil prices as factors that contributed to the poor market conditions and impacted the performance of the College’s investment portfolio.
“I think that it’s disappointing that its negative. On the absolute level, I’m disappointed; on a relative level, we did very well,” said Volent.
According to Rose, the College’s performance in relation to its peers is a testament to Volent and the investment team’s ability to navigate tough market conditions.
“The thing to keep in mind is we are long-term investors—so we’ve outperformed in the short medium and long term in remarkably great ways,” he said.
Although it is revisited every year, investment policy is based on long-term strategy that focuses on five and 10-year returns. While Volent expects the endowment to be more liquid in the coming years due to market conditions, she does not expect a one-year downturn to radically change the College’s investment strategy. She also noted that the overall stock market outlook would likely make it difficult for Bowdoin to achieve high returns over the next few years.
“One year is not an investment track record; it’s more the 10-year number we look to,” said Volent. “I think that it’s going to be difficult to find absolute returns going forward in the three to five year period, just because interest rates can’t go lower. Stocks and bonds have been correlated, so it’s hard out there,” she said.
The investment team now hopes to prevent further portfolio losses, but will continue to watch the markets for pockets of potential return.
The endowment portfolio is diversified across various asset classes, which include private equity, real estate and domestic and international equities, among others.
“We’re participating in things like drones and genomics, which is really exciting,” Volent said.Both Rose and Volent declined to comment on the distribution of the portfolio across investments due to disclosure agreements with asset managers.
Approximately 46 percent of the endowment is designated to supporting student financial aid, making its growth crucial in maintaining Bowdoin’s accessibility to all students. In FY2015, the endowment contributed $50 million to the College’s annual operations, approximately $22.7 million of which went to financial aid.
“The goal of the endowment is to generate the absolute best risk-adjusted returns for the College, so that we can invest in our ambitions and aspirations and educate and train our students and provide our faculty with the resources to do their work,” said Rose.
Rose does not expect this year’s results to noticeably affect the student experience unless there is a prolonged period of downturn in the market—a situation that would force the College to make difficult decisions regarding its ambitions.
Rose said the College will continue to be more disciplined about the rate of increase of the budget given current market conditions—a process that the investment team implemented proactively during FY2015.
“Beginning in about a year, we’ll start to see the distributions from the endowment that go to cover operating costs of the college increase at a lower [rate],” said Rose. “One of the things that a disciplined budget process can do is, even in the face of some of the challenges we have, allow us to find the resources to invest in our ambitions and aspirations, and I hope that’s what we will do.”
Controversy continues over 28 College Street
The College has launched legal action concerning the sale of the property located at 28 College Street to a local buyer. The house is the only remaining property on College Street that Bowdoin does not own.
In the suit filed on August 12 in Cumberland County Court, the College claims that the property’s owner, Arline Lay, and listing agent—who contend that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in the home—continued to list the property for sale despite the College’s demand to cease and desist. The College’s demand derives from a 1996 agreement between the two parties regarding the property’s future sale.
In April 1996, the College negotiated an option agreement for 28 College Street when it purchased the adjacent property also owned by Lay at 26 College Street. Part of the agreement gives Bowdoin the exclusive option to purchase the property for 125 percent of “fair market value” if Lay or her husband passes away—whichever is last to occur—or ceases use of the home as his or her primary residence. Lay’s husband has since deceased and Lay no longer uses the home as her primary residence.
Additionally, the agreement gives the College a “right of first refusal” which, although very similar to the option agreement, also grants the College the right to purchase the home if the seller decides to list the property on the market or sell to a third party.
The case was filed against Lay, her listing agent David Jones and the prospective South Portland buyer Louise Jonaitis. The College and defendants have recently agreed to participate in mediation later this month.
In March, the property was listed with F.O. Bailey Real Estate of Falmouth, Maine at a listing price of $1.6 million. According to the College’s complaint filed with the court, the College’s attorney informed Lay through her attorney in March of its intention purchase the home as per the 1996 agreement “upon information and belief” that Lay had ceased using the property as her primary residence. Lay proceeded to accept an offer of $750,000 from a third party and negotiate a purchase and sale agreement despite Bowdoin’s claims to cease and desist.
The Brunswick Assessor’s Department currently lists the assessed value of 28 College Street at $154,300. That number represents approximately 70 percent market value, according to the latest town assessments that took place in 2000. Accounting for the high listing price is Lay’s claim that Harriet Beecher Stowe sought refuge at the home to write “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
The College claims that Lay and her broker are breaching the agreement by continuing to actively list the property for sale after the College indicated it was exercising its option to purchase. The College also claims that defendants failed to inform the buyer Jonaitis of the option agreement, which contractually precluded Lay from accepting an offer from a third party buyer after receiving notice from the College in March of its intention to purchase.
“The point we’re making in the filing is that all the broker is telling the woman from South Portland is that we have a right of first refusal. He is not telling her that we have an option that we have exercised, so she cannot buy it,” James Kilbreth, the College’s attorney, said in a phone interview with the Orient.
In a press release, Lay’s attorney Sean Joyce said that his client immediately informed the College of the offer she received from Jonaitis. Lay and Joyce believed that the agreement stipulated that Bowdoin had 30 days after initial notification of the offer to respond, either with a rejection and consequently the loss of rights to purchase the property, or with an offer to purchase the home for the value of the current offer plus 25 percent.
“Instead of accepting or rejecting the Jonaitis purchase price or making any offer whatsoever, Bowdoin College filed suit claiming that it should not have to pay so much for the property,” said Joyce.
The defendants believe fair market value is determined by the offer of $750,000 they received from Jonaitis.
However, the 1996 agreement states that fair market value is to be determined “by averaging two appraisals obtained from persons and/or firms whose regular and usual business is real estate appraisals who have been professional certified as such in Maine.” In the event of a discrepancy of more than 10 percent between the appraisal acquired by each party, the agreement stipulated that a third appraisal would be obtained and averaged with the other two.
“Bowdoin College wants the Court to force Arline to hire appraisers to come up with a hypothetical value for the property and disregard the best evidence of its fair market value, the Jonaitis offer,” Joyce said in a press release. “The agreement does provide for an appraisal mechanism, but it is not relevant because it is only triggered ‘in the event of Arline’s death’.”
Joyce asserts that the appraisal mechanism stated in the 1996 agreement is only triggered in the event of Arline’s death, and therefore the College is expected to pay fair market value for the home. Joyce said that Lay listed her home on the market to gauge its true market value from buyers because factoring historical significance into home appraisals is a complex process.
In a press release, Joyce claimed that the College has tried to undermine the offer from Jonaitis during recent negotiations.
“While Arline is not a litigious person, given the inexcusable and outrageous conduct by Bowdoin College’s interim treasurer, Matthew Orlando, in trying to negatively influence Ms. Jonaitis on her deal with Arline, there is a strong likelihood Arline will and should assert a series of counter-claims for damages against Bowdoin College for such conduct,” Joyce wrote.
In response to Joyce’s claims, Kilbreth, Bowdoin’s attorney, said that the College was making clear to the prospective buyer that the College was exercising its contractual option to buy and did not believe that the property was worth anything near what Jonaitis is willing to pay.
“The College is simply trying to follow an agreement that everybody signed in 1996…the whole purpose of [the agreement] was to be fair both to the College and to the Lays because obviously on the one hand if you didn’t have a process except a price then the Lays would be in a position to essentially hold the College up for something unreasonable,” said Kilbreth. “On the other hand the College would be in a position to potentially shortchange the Lays.”
“The whole idea of this was to create a process that was fair to both sides, and that’s why both part[ies] gets to pick an appraiser—that’s an objective way to determine a price—and the College then said we’ll pay you 125 percent of whatever that price is to make clear that it was trying to be as fair,” Kilbreth said.
The value of the home in the eyes of a buyer or assessor weighs heavily on claims about its historical significance. In the lawsuit, the College refutes Lay’s claims about the house’s connection to Harriet Beecher Stowe.
“The property listing falsely states that Harriet Beecher Stowe sought refuge to write ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ at the property. Defendants Lay and the Jones knew that this statement was false at the time it was made,” said the College in court documents.
Jones said in a phone interview with the Orient that the agency F.O. Bailey Real Estate investigated Lay’s claims before including them in the listing.
“We went ahead and contacted the Harriet Beecher Stowe Society and spoke with them about it” he said. “We’ve had Richard Coffin write a letter saying that the story is true—his father was the professor at Bowdoin and he swore to it under oath.”
This is not the first time that the house has been offered for sale—and that the College has refuted these historical claims.
In 2014, Lay listed the home for $3 million with a Beverly Hills agency, advertising the home as the location where Stowe wrote her famous novel. During that time, the College also rejected this claim.
“The evidence to date—supported by the historical record, by Stowe scholars and by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, among others—shows that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ at her home located at 63 Federal Street and at Appleton Hall, where her husband had a study,” wrote Scott Hood, senior vice president for communication and public affairs, in a February 2014 email to the Orient.
Associate Professor of Africana Studies and English Tess Chakkalakal echoed Hood’s sentiment at that time, saying that that Stowe’s correspondences and those of her family support the claim that the novel was written at 63 Federal Street—the location of the College’s Harriet Beecher Stowe House containing “Harriet’s Writing Room.”
Lay’s attorney said that he and his client stand by their claims that some portion of the book was written at 28 College Street, where they believe Stowe rented a room during the time the novel was written.
Since the August court filing, Bowdoin has stood by its rejection of Lay’s claims.
“Even if it’s true—which it isn’t—it has a pretty minimal effect on value … to the extent that you could come up with any argument it might be 10 percent impact. So we don’t think it’s true and we don’t think it’s that significant in that case,” said Kilbreth.
But Jones disagrees, saying that the College’s actions haven’t been reasonable.
“I think what they’re trying to do to this 87 year old woman is pretty shocking ... I’ve found someone who is willing to pay a very good price for it and we’ve given the opportunity to the College to buy it based on the agreement and they choose to sue her—I don’t understand it. I just don’t understand it at all,” said Jones.
Last week, the defendants filed a joint motion to stay deadlines until the completion of upcoming mediation. They have asked the court that Lay’s son, James Lay, attend mediation as her proxy under a Power of Attorney.
“We want the process to be followed. We’ve done an appraisal; we’re having discussions now with them about appraisals and at the end of the day that’s a fair way to set a price,” said Kilbreth. “The College has agreed to pay 125 percent of whatever that price is… It’s pretty hard to complain about that.”
Football player turned farmer: Trevor Kenkel ’18 makes a mark on sustainable agriculture
For most students, extracurriculars take place on Bowdoin’s campus. Trevor Kenkel ’18, however, can be found in Lisbon, Maine, in between classes operating his own farm.
Kenkel is the chairman and founder of Springworks Farm, an aquaponics farm in Lisbon, ME that is about 30 minutes from campus.
From a young age, Kenkel became interested in sustainable agriculture. When a local creek in his hometown of Kalispell, Montana, experienced a huge loss in biodiversity due to human agricultural activity upstream, Kenkel was fascinated.
“I made this rough connection as a kid that agriculture could significantly change the ecosystems around me,” said Kenkel.
Looking for more sustainable ways to farm, he started a small organic garden in his hometown. However, given Montana’s short growing season, Kenkel was only able to produce his own food for a small portion of the year, and he wanted to expand.
After reading about aquaponics online, he built his first aquaponics system with money from his summer job.
“My parents thought I was crazy,” said Kenkel.
In aquaponics, fish are housed in recirculating tanks that produce the fertilizer that the plants need. The plants then use that fertilizer to grow, which keeps the water clean for the fish.
“We take both of those waste streams and combine them in a relationship that ends up making the process better. We use about 90% less water, ten times less space—and that doesn't include the fact that we are able to operate year round.”
From there, he continued to expand upon his first system with financial assistance from his family. Soon, he had enough produce to feed his family and neighbors with plenty to spare. Afterwards, Kenkel began to sell to local restaurants.
“I had seen the potential of a business in it before that, but it was really nice to go out and start to prove that business model,” Kenkel said. “That’s when I started developing what is today Springworks. I began creating a business plan and pitching to investors the idea and receiving the funding and locating ourselves in Maine.”
Kenkel was originally recruited by Bowdoin to play football, which established his connection to Maine. After seeing the food scene in Portland, he knew that Maine would be a suitable location for the farm, and it would also allow him to live nearby during his time in college.
“We felt like Maine was so well-prepared for this kind of business because they care about their food so much,” said Kenkel.
Springworks purchased its land in Lisbon in the spring of 2014. Kenkel spent his first year at Bowdoin building the system and working on the interior components. Springworks harvested its first crops in July of this year.
Many local restaurants have expressed interest in working with Springworks. Kenkel is currently selling to over 18 local establishments, including Gelato Fiasco, Wild Oats Bakery and Café and Frontier Café.
“Wild Oats has been a great customer for us,” said Kenkel. “We sell a couple of different varieties of lettuce, basil, mizuna, things of that nature.”
“We went out for a tour of their facility, and I was really impressed with their product,” said Becky Shepherd, owner of Wild Oats. “It's clearly very fresh and clean, and I thought that it was a wonderful concept.”
Springworks is the first farm that Wild Oats has worked with that can produce year round, which has given Wild Oats the ability to continue to buy locally outside of season.
“We usually get two to three deliveries a week from them, and they're super responsive to anything that we need or any feedback we have for them—they're always looking for ways that they can improve,” said Shepherd.
Recently, Bowdoin Dining has shown interest in getting involved in Kenkel’s work. Although nothing is formally set in place for Bowdoin becoming a long-term customer, Kenkel is excited to see where the relationship goes.
“I have been talking to [Bowdoin Dining] pretty extensively. They're really excited about it,” Kenkel said. “They plan on using Springworks’ greens for the president’s inaugural dinner.”
Aside from the commercial side of his business, Kenkel has made it a priority to educate the community on sustainable agriculture through the use of “Microfarms” that people can purchase for use in their own homes.
“It takes what we do on the large scale and squeezes it down to the size of a ten-gallon aquarium,” Kenkel said “We’re excited to use it as an educational tool.”
Kenkel is also working with local teachers at Morse High School in Bath, ME to help design their AP Biology curriculum to incorporate more education about sustainable agriculture. Students can visit the farm and learn about aquaponics through MicroFarms.
Like many other Bowdoin students, Kenkel also has to manage a heavy workload.
“I think a lot of Bowdoin students have extracurriculars that they spend a lot of time on, and if you schedule yourself properly, there's a lot of time during the day that can be used to work on projects like this,” Kenkel said.
Minimal damage, one transport at 150th Ivies
With only one alcohol-related transport, one major injury, and “a lot of public urination,” the College’s 150th Ivies was a busy but successful weekend for the College, according to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.
On Friday, students gathered for an annual party held on the Brunswick Quad.
A female student in the Class of 2017 was transported due to overconsumption of alcohol. Nichols noted that the transport was not a particularly serious one, with the student only staying in the hospital for 2-3 hours. There have been 16 alcohol-related transports to date this year.
A male first-year student fell on broken glass and cut his back open severely.
“Most years we have glass cuts during Ivies and this was the most serious glass cut injury we’ve had during my nine Ivies,” said Nichols. “Often we’ll get foot cuts and things like that, so that was unfortunate, but the student is recovering and doing well.”
Multiple students were escorted out of Brunswick Quad because of dangerous behavior.For most students, however, the day was a success.
“My favorite Ivies event was definitely Brunswick Quad on Friday,” said Lillian Eckstein ’18. “It was super fun to just hang with friends and bump to the sick beats. Plus the weather was so fresh.”
Although the events at Harpswell Apartments and Pine Street Apartments on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, went seamlessly, Brunswick Quad and Ladd House were more problematic. According to Nichols, the Brunswick Quad was very active and kept security officers busy for the whole day on Friday. Ladd House hosted an event on Saturday known to some students as “Laddio” that demanded similar attention.
“There were a number of registered events approved for Saturday morning and we allowed that to carry on into the afternoon up until about the concert time, so the Ladd event got a little raucous,” said Nichols.
A chair was smashed by a student on the patio and a window was also shattered by a student.Security determined that the broken window at Ladd was an accident, citing “particularly wild dance moves” as the cause. The student has agreed to pay for the damages. Security is still trying to determine who is responsible for the vandalism of the chair on the patio.
Public urination was the most frequent citation this weekend, particularly inside and outside Ladd House on Saturday.
Public urination was not as big of a problem at Brunswick Quad as it has been in previous years. Nichols attributed this to the College’s decision to introduce numerous porta-potties for the event this year.
“I guess one takeaway is to bring on more porta-potties at the larger events” said Nichols. “That said, there are nearly a thousand toilets on campus, so with minimal effort everyone should be able to find one.”
For the second year in a row, the Office of Student Activities decided to move the Saturday concert indoors to Farley Field House. The concert was headlined by The White Panda and Logic.
“Although it ended up not raining all that much on Saturday, it turned out to be pretty cold and windy so I think it was the right call to put the show inside,” said Co-Chair of the Entertainment Board (eBoard) Matt Friedland ’15.
Nichols said that although the decision to move the event indoors is not one that students typically favor, it does make security’s job less challenging because they can control access to the venue more easily.
“However I always prefer to have it outside—it’s more fun” Nichols said.
In comparison to previous years, there were no reported problems with disorderly visitors.Despite the few incidents that did occur, Nichols said he believed that it was a successful Ivies, and the eBoard agreed.
“We are very happy with how the weekend went overall,” said Friedland in an email to the Orient. “We loved the excited atmosphere that campus brought to the show. The performers fed off the energy of the crowd and we think all three acts did a fantastic job. It’s nice to see hard work pay off and enjoy the end of the year together as a campus.”
Editor's note: A previous version of a quotation by Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols suggested that there were five registered events at Ladd House on the Saturday of Ivies. In fact, he said that there were five registered events in total that day, one of which was at Ladd House.
Baseball continues underwhelming season
The baseball team dropped two of three in a NESCAC East Division series against Tufts in Northboro, Mass. last weekend. The Polar Bears fell to 6-10 (1-2 NESCAC) as the Jumbos improved to 11-4 (2-1 NESCAC).
Bowdoin jumped out to a hot start, claiming the opener of Friday’s double-header 6-1. Tufts got back on track, winning the night game 6-0 and Monday night’s rubber match by a score of 10-1.
In the first game on Friday, Henry Van Zant ’15 pitched a complete game, allowing only four hits and striking out three batters. Van Zant successfully retired seven consecutive Jumbos to start the game until Tufts’ Tom Petry hit a single in the third inning.
For his efforts, Van Zant was named NESCAC Pitcher of the Week. So far this season he has struck out 23 batters in 21 innings.
“[Van Zant] was fantastic in that game,” said Head Coach Mike Connolly. “Obviously, the mix between his fastball and his slider and his changeup was really good and he pitched really well. It was a great performance from a captain and a leader to set the tables for the rest of the season.”
Senior Cole DiRoberto opened scoring in the second inning by reaching home on a Peter Cimini ’16 sacrifice fly.
Bowdoin lit up the scoreboard in the sixth, notching a five-run inning that included home runs from Erik Jacobsen ’15, Cimini and Chris Nadeau ’16.
Tufts’ Andrew David quieted the Polar Bears in the night fixture though, giving up only six hits in a complete-game effort. Aaron Rosen ’15 was the lone offensive bright spot for the Bears, going 4-4 from the plate with four singles.
In the series’ final game on Monday night, Rosen started the Polar Bears off with a home run in the top of the first inning, but Tufts responded with a total of five runs over the first, fifth and sixth innings. The Jumbos secured the game with a five-run eighth and won the game by nine.
Tufts’ pitching was dominant after the first inning, recording a total of six zero-hit innings in the rest of the game. Zach Slinger struck out five in seven innings, and Zach Brown pitched a perfect final two innings.
“The two pitchers from Tufts, Andrew David and Kyle Slinger, they both pitched really well,” said Connolly. “So the first thing that we ran into was that those guys did a great job.”
Although the team did not achieve the result it was hoping for, Connolly said he saw many positives in the game. He believes that as the season progresses, the team’s approach will continue to get better.
“I thought that the energy in all three games was great and I felt that they went about it the right way,” said Connolly. “The second really big positive was we played great defense. The guys caught the ball all weekend long and in every aspect of defense I thought that we were at the top of our game.”
Despite their struggles batting against the Jumbos, the Polar Bears played well in the field, committing only one error in the three-game series.
“If we can continue to catch the ball like that all year long we’re going to be in a great spot,” said Connolly. “From an offensive perspective we’re just going to continue to work all year on trying to become a little more consistent so that we can continue to put pressure on teams.”
Nick Sadler ’18, who scored a run in Friday’s opener, is hopeful that the team will hone its game in time for the playoffs.
“If we had to lose a series of that magnitude at any point during the year, it’s much better that happens now rather than later on,” he said.
“I think it’s definitely going to be a learning experience and the turning point for us, because we all know that we have an incredibly talented team—the key is just fitting all the pieces together at the right time.”
Bowdoin’s game at 5-5 Bates, who is yet to play an in-conference game, tomorrow has been postponed to because of unplayable field conditions. The two teams’ Sunday doubleheader will now start at 1 p.m. at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H.
NESCAC play has just begun and the Polar Bears are currently sitting in second place of the conference’s Eastern Division with a record of 1-2.
Friendsy frenzy: new social app polarizes student body
Friendsy, a mobile application that combines elements of Facebook, Tinder and Yik Yak, quickly became the latest social media craze at Bowdoin after its introduction before Spring Break, and had been downloaded by nearly half of the student body (849 students) as of Monday.
Requiring a “.edu” email address to sign up, the app allows students to connect with one another on a friendly or romantic level.
Users are given the option to select “friends,” “hookup” or “date” on other students’ profiles. If the feelings are mutual, both parties receive a notification saying that they have been matched. Students are then given the chance to message their “mutuals” with the help of conversation-starting prompts.
The app was founded in 2013 by two Princeton students, Vaidhy Murti and Michael Pinsky, in hopes of giving students an easier way to connect with each other and branch out of their social circles on campus. After testing the app at a small number of campuses over the past year, the app launched nationwide earlier this month.
Speaking to USA Today, Murti said, “Our goal of Friendsy is to go back to the roots of what made Facebook once successful—and that’s to put the college social scene online. Where everything you do and everything you see is very much relevant to your day-to-day life.”
Danny Mejia ’17 and Laura Plimpton ’17 played a large role in getting Friendsy on campus.Plimpton heard about the app last year from her sister who attends Hamilton College.
“We had heard of other schools that had Friendsy and we thought it was really funny and wanted to see if there was any way we could bring it to a smaller school, because we’ve seen it work at other small schools” said Mejia. “We figured we’d try to make it a thing at Bowdoin.”
In order to make the app available on campus, Friendsy requested that students express interest by entering their email address on Friendsy’s website. After Thanksgiving break, Mejia and Plimpton told their friends to join the app.
“There was a group of six or seven people already on it when it went live, so we weren’t patient zero and patient one on the app,” Mejia added. “Once we heard it opened up and now only needed people to join to make it a thing then we sent it to a lot of people. All those super annoying texts? Those came from us.”
Immediately after opening to Bowdoin, the app’s usage on campus exploded.
“Dinner was at 7 p.m. and by like, 11 p.m. there had been 80 people who had joined and then the next day it was over 200,” said Mejia. “We meant for it to just be a funny thing within our friends, kind of. Then it became a Union phenomenon that night.”
Even Plimpton and Mejia are wary of the app’s presence in Bowdoin’s social scene.
“I think the point of something like Friendsy is for big schools where it’s actually difficult to run into people,” said Plimpton. “You can only scroll through so many people. Once you’ve scrolled through everyone you’re like now what?”
“We have so many resources as undergraduates at a small school that’s easy to get around and has a lot of community focus that there’s so many different options for people to meet each other and get to know each other well,” said Mejia. “Asking somebody to dinner is a really simple thing. We don’t need an app like this. I don’t agree with it morally. I think it’s fun.”
Despite its popularity on campus, a contingency of students disapprove of the app. For many, Bowdoin’s small size renders the idea of the app useless
“Excuse me to all the people who say they want to hook up or date on Friendsy yet remain anonymous in real life” said Liam Finnerty ’17. “It will never cease to amaze me.”
“I used it for three days and it’s boring. It was a fun idea but it just doesn’t work. It’s not the same as in person,” said Andrew Brenner ’18
Casey Krause ’17 does not use the app but has some strong opinions about its use on campus.
“I think it’s the stupidest thing ever,” she said. “I know that people joke about it. If people actually do it that would really piss me off. It’s like worse than hooking up blackout in the Baxter basement. I’ve talked to people who say they have it on their phone but they’re not active on it. They just like to hear who wants to hook up with them to boost their ego. I’ll be in a group of people and somebody will be like ‘I just got three hookup requests on Friendsy’ and I’ll throw up in my mouth a little bit.”
Roughly 950 students were active on Friendsy last week. This week, that number has dropped to just under 850, signifying that the app may be beginning to lose steam.
“I deleted it because I didn’t know what to do with it anymore,” said Plimpton. “It was just really cool to watch. Seeing it start to finish in 48 hours was the most fun part.”
“Better than Tinder, worse than everything else,” said Mejia.
NESCAC deans issue second Alcohol Survey
On March 1, the NESCAC Alcohol Survey will be administered to students at Bowdoin and nine other NESCAC schools. Trinity is the only institution that has elected not to participate this year.
The survey, administered every three years, was first implemented in 2012 and was coordinated by Bowdoin. This year Tufts will coordinate the survey, compile the data and share the results with its peers over the summer.
Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster said that this survey will strongly resemble the previous one in terms of content, consisting of both qualitative and quantitative questions about student’s decisions pertaining to alcohol use on campus.
Among NESCAC schools, Bowdoin had the highest response rate, at 79 percent, for the last survey.
“I think the sample is plenty large enough for us to feel like it gives us a pretty good indication of behavior and practices revolving around alcohol on campus,” said Foster.
Information from the last survey was used in the fall of 2012 to implement new alcohol education programs such as Alcohol Screening Day. Peer Health also expanded its Peer 2 Peer program by meeting with students individually at the beginning of their first year at Bowdoin to discuss the College’s drinking culture.
Programs such as CHOICES and the Alcohol Team (A-Team) have increased their programming on campus since the survey to better address the needs of the student body.
Associate Director of Health Promotion Whitney Hogan said that most of these programs have been very well attended and have certainly played a role in influencing the alcohol culture on campus.
“I would say—anecdotally—that I have seen less transports over the last few years,” said Hogan.
Based on what she has observed on campus, Hogan said that this reduction may be related to students’ willingness to call Security and Security’s willingness to do health and wellness checks.
“I think also a broader conversation that has been happening on campus around students thinking about alcohol use in terms of respect versus disrespect—both respecting themselves and respecting the people around them,” said Hogan.
In 2012, 93 percent of students reported that they believed Bowdoin’s alcohol policy encouraged seeking help from Security or other staff members, compared to only 77 percent at other NESCAC schools.
“I think the best way to cause change on a small campus is to get students talking about a specific issue and I think there’s more conversation about alcohol and alcohol use now than there was a handful of years ago,” said Hogan.
Additionally, 42 percent of students reported drinking occasionally in 2012, while 41 percent said they drank often.
By comparing the results of the last survey with this year’s results, the College will be able to see the impact that these programs have made on campus.Both Foster and Hogan said that the results of this year’s survey will be used to think about how to approach alcohol education going forward.
“I think we have to wait and see what the data tells us, but there were some interesting and somewhat surprising results last time that were then helpful for us,” said Foster. Along with the data from its own student body, Bowdoin receives the data of other NESCAC schools, without those schools being identified. Foster said that this aspect does not diminish the importance of the data.
“These are peer schools of ours and so we can see how we compare to schools that are populated by similar students,” said Foster.
“While we don’t know specifically who the other schools are, we get a good sense of how we compare to other individual NESCAC peer schools in certain categories,” he added.
Although Trinity participated in 2012, this year it has decided against participating. Both Wesleyan and Amherst did not participate in the previous survey but will take part this year.
“I think that we have a really robust program on campus compared to a lot of other colleges,” said Hogan. “I would say that in general we’re doing more to tackle dangerous and disrespectful alcohol use than other campuses are.”
Meg Robbins contributed to this report.
Students and College Guild bring education behind bars
Over the last few weeks, posters emblazoned with quotes and statistics about the U.S. prison system have appeared all over campus. The group responsible is College Guild, a Brunswick based non-profit organization that aims to reduce recidivism rates in prisoners through educational programs.
The organization, which is entirely funded by donations, was co-founded in 2001 by Julie Zimmerman, a Harpswell resident.
Offering a variety of courses from Greek Mythology to Journalism, College Guild provides inmates with course units, which they complete and mail at their own expense to the organization’s headquarters. From there, they are sent to volunteer readers, who provide feedback that encourages and instructs the inmates.
The courses are non-traditional, non-credit academic courses, which gives the organization flexibility in developing their own engaging lesson plans. College Guild currently serves approximately 300 prisoners but has a waiting list with over 700 inmates hoping to join the program. Due to financial constraints, the organization cannot meet the demand for its services.
Bowdoin’s student-run College Guild chapter is led by Elizabeth Brown ’15, Emily Hochman ’15 and Kiran Pande ’15. Jackie Fickes ’15 and Jennifer Zhang ’15 sit on the College Guild Board of Directors.
Bowdoin students have been involved since the organization’s inception. When College Guild was founded in Brunswick, Zimmerman began offering orientations at Bowdoin to get new volunteers involved. Now, approximately 50 students volunteer for the program, more than 40 percent of all of College Guild’s volunteers.
“As leaders of the Bowdoin chapter, we really try to facilitate and bring in a lot of volunteers.
We’ve been seeing that students are really interested in getting involved so we’re trying to make that as easy as possible” said Hochman. “Coming into this year, we all felt that we wanted a stronger presence on campus since it had been in the past more of a solitary activity.”
Victoria Lowrie ’18 started volunteering for College Guild in the fall.
“I think that empowering prisoners is a great way to lower recidivism rates,” Lowrie said. “Being able to facilitate confidence in their thoughts is really important because the kind of confidence they are building in their own abilities from this is going to translate into positive action when they leave prison.”
In light of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and subsequent student-led responses on campus, members of the Bowdoin chapter have been discussing issues of race in its varied manifestations, specifically mass incarceration.
In their written responses, prisoners often reflect on issues of race, class, and the criminal justice system. Bowdoin leaders say it is enlightening to hear new perspectives on these issues.
“A lot of them have spoken about ideas like the school-to-prison pipeline and just have this great awareness that the reason that they are imprisoned isn’t necessarily because of their individual choices, it’s partly because of a societal problem or the color of their skin” said Brown.
The student leaders expressed that volunteering their time to read responses is not only enriching for the inmates’ educational experience, but is also a positive experience for the volunteers.
“[The inmates] are so appreciative and so thankful of the fact that someone who is a complete stranger doesn’t view them as this animal in a cage or this monster but views them as someone worthy of respect and dignity,” said Fickes. “Being on the other end of this is a really powerful experience and I don’t know any other organization that does it in this way.”
Readers are often impressed by the profound responses that inmates take the time to craft. Hochman recounted her experience of reading one man’s poetry.
“The caliber of his thought, the words he was using, just the structure of the poetry was so far beyond me and that was amazing to see,” said Hochman. “I felt really lucky to be able to read his work and offer my comments.”
While the program is not intended to be a pen-pal type correspondence, the leaders say that student readers often feel a connection to the stories that inmates share in their responses.
Brown remembered her experience in corresponding with a man this summer who was facing the prospect of parole.
“‘[He] wrote about how hopeful he was because he had a bunch of nieces and nephews who he corresponds with through mail and they are growing up while he’s in prison,” said Brown. “I found out in the next unit that he didn’t get parole and it was really crushing.”
With all four leaders graduating this spring, the future of Bowdoin’s chapter is uncertain.
“Our biggest plan for the future is to continue active leadership in the club,” said Pande. “This has definitely been the most involved College Guild has been on campus since we’ve been here so we would like to see that kept up.”
H-L renovations to avoid conflict over book storage
While peer schools like Colby are moving large portions of their library collections to storage facilities, Bowdoin’s libraries are undergoing minor reconfigurations under the leadership of new Director of the Bowdoin College Library Marjorie Hassen.
Over the past semester, the Abramson Room on the sixth floor of Hubbard Hall was painted, carrels and rugs were cleaned, and new chairs and furniture were added to the space.
In Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, one of the long shelves in the reference area was removed, making room for the addition of four bean bag chairs. Hassen said that the library is considering creating space for long tables for collaborative work as well.
A discussion about the need for more lab space—through possible renovations of Druckenmiller Hall and Hatch Science Library—also has implications for the collection. Librarians held open sessions for faculty in the science departments this fall to discuss their use of library space.
“How their students use the space is also important as we start to think about renovations that will likely happen at some point in the future that will likely require us to move some books around and maybe move some things out,” said Hassen.
By buying electronic versions of parts of the collection, the library has been able to move out some print collections in order to make more space. These print materials are kept at an off-site facility. However, the College has full access to any materials that were removed from the library.
“We are pretty much at capacity. As new things come in we need space,” said Hassen. “How do we manage in our current environment with both keeping our collections and building our collections to meet the needs of teaching and scholarship and also the physical space?”
“For some departments, print might be the best way to deliver material, for some electronic is better,” Hassen said. “This has always been the case with the library: being proactive, talking with faculty and students way in advance of whatever may be planned so that we are thinking about how to meet everybody’s needs.”
Library renovations have been a contentious issue at peer schools in recent months. Colby College and Barnard College have both faced recent controversies regarding extensive renovations that affected their collections.
An $8.7 million renovation to Colby’s Miller Library was completed this fall. Intended to create additional study spaces, the renovation also included the building of a large off-site storage facility where some of Miller Library’s collection was deposited.
Last spring, in response to the renovations, 76 faculty members signed a petition urging the administration to halt the continuing renovations to the library.
“The renovations have been hurried, poorly thought-out, damaging to the mission of the College and conducted with inadequate faculty input,” faculty members said in an open letter published in the Colby Echo.
“The presence of books is highly relevant to faculty and students in certain disciplines,” wrote Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Colby History Department Raffael Scheck in an email to the Orient. “Colby is discussing ways of resolving the crisis caused by the library renovations through an expanded library committee.
“For a strong minority of faculty, especially in the humanities, the presence of books and the possibility of browsing them in the stacks—for faculty amd students—is worth as much as a lab for a natural scientist,” Scheck wrote.
Duncan Gibson, an alumnus of Colby, said that communication and open dialogue are essential when changes are made that will affect faculty and students.
“One can’t know the technological changes a decade in advance, so plan accordingly,” Gibson wrote in an email to the Orient. “Books can always be used, and students and faculty need appropriate access to the collections and space to use them.”
Hassen did not express concern about this type of situation taking place at Bowdoin. “There’s always priorities on campus,” said Hassen. “With a new president coming in, it will be interesting to see what those priorities are.”
Portland METRO looks to expand bus service to Brunswick
Brunswick town officials are exploring the possibility of adding a commuter bus service between Portland and Brunswick. Preliminary discussions took place in mid-November. According to the Portland Press Herald, the addition of this service to Brunswick would build upon Portland METRO plans to expand service farther up the coast next summer.
However, this pilot program has not received grant funding for expansion to Brunswick, with funds given towards new routes to Freeport and Yarmouth instead. If the service were to be extended to Brunswick, the town would be responsible for the cost of the addition, which is estimated to be approximately $200,000 per year, according to a document shared at the November 17 town meeting.
Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley said that the College met with Town Manager John Eldridge last month and was informed that discussions were taking place regarding the bus service.
Although the College has not been directly involved in these discussions, Longley said that the bus service could be very attractive to both employees who commute to campus and to students.
“We would be very interested to see this service become available,” she said.
According to Chair of the Brunswick Town Council Benet Pols, the town’s discussions with METRO officials are in the early stages.
“Historically, there are parking problems around the College’s campus that make it in the College’s interest to have the students have access to public transit either around town or to get out of town if they want to,” Pols said.
“I think that, for a variety of reasons, taking steps to extend the network of public transportation in southern Maine is a positive action,” said Emma Moesswilde ’18. “Not only is this commitment valuable for the town of Brunswick, but it makes a statement to Maine as a whole that infrastructure needs to be reorganized in an environmentally and economically friendly way for maximum progress.”
Helen Ross ’18 said she would likely utilize the extended bus service.
“I would definitely be more inclined to take advantage of our proximity to Portland if I didn’t have to rely on the inconvenient timetable of the Downeaster,” she said.
Pols said that the Town Council is scheduled to meet with METRO representatives today to discuss a more formal proposal.
College receives record-high 662 ED I applications for Class of ’19
The Office of Admissions received a record-high 662 Early Decision I (ED I) applications for admission to the the Class of 2019. This marks a 10.7 percent increase from last year’s 598 applications. The deadline was last Saturday, November 15.
Over the past four years, the number of applications has been fairly consistent. Although 64 more applications does not seem like a large numerical increase, it marks a substantial percentage point increase.
Although the exact date has not yet been announced, decisions are expected to be sent out between December 10 and 15.
Admissions has made some changes to its fall travel schedule in order to cater to a greater number of high schools, but Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Scott Meiklejohn does not attribute the increase in applications to these scheduling changes.
“Bowdoin is popular” said Meiklejohn. “Every time I have been asked in all my years why applications are up, I always say the same thing which is, ‘Bowdoin is a great place and more people are finding out about it.’”
This year’s applicant pool represents a greater number of high schools than last year’s, with 482 schools represented this year, compared to 467 last year.
The number of private school applicants increased slightly more than the number of public school applicants, and while there was an increase in applications from New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the Southwest, the number of applications from other parts of the country—as well as international applications—did not change significantly.
Meiklejohn said that students who apply Early Decision do not have a particular advantage over Regular Decision applicants.
“It’s an option,” said Meiklejohn. “It’s supposed to be for that person who has absolutely convinced themselves that this is the one school where they want to be.”
Admissions does not have a fixed number of students it hopes to admit from the ED I pool, but the overall targeted class size is 495-500 students.
“It depends on how excited we are about what we’re reading,” said Meiklejohn.
Mieklejohn did not specify whether the College is looking for a particular type of applicant this year.
“We want to give Bowdoin another collection of 500 wonderful people, so the College’s expectations of us don’t tend to change very much,” he said.
While the number of applications received may increase slightly over the next few days as late applications trickle in, Meiklejohn expects the number to remain close to 662.
Admissions has already begun the process of reading applications.
“We’re excited. The number is just a number until you actually open the applications; that’s when it gets more interesting to see who would love to come to Bowdoin,” he said.