Professor Michael Kolster documents plastic 'fossils of the future'
Productive disruption: Trump effigy challenges campus complacency
Bowdoin students bridge gap between liberal arts and public health
Student-curated exhibit gives snapshots of American photography
Large-format bird illustrations take flight in Hawthorne-Longfellow
eBoard announces musically diverse Ivies
Indie pop/alternative band Smallpools will perform on Thursday, April 27 as part of this year’s Ivies weekend, and electronic artist Vanic will open for headlining rapper A$AP Ferg on Saturday, April 29. The Entertainment Board (eBoard) released a video announcing the lineup last Friday. This year’s lineup is more musically diverse than previous years, according to eBoard co-chairs Brendan Civale ’17 and Arindam Jurakhan ’17.
The video was followed by an email to the student body on Monday, which included a link to the promotional video and short descriptions of each performer.
Civale and Jurakhan are happy with the lineup. A survey sent to the student body by eBoard in September found that students preferred rap music for the concert, followed by indie and E.D.M.
“We’re covering alternative, pop, E.D.M. and rap,” Civale said. “We’re covering a lot of bases, which is good.”
eBoard, comprised of 17 students, used survey responses from over 1,000 students to choose the weekend’s lineup. The survey asked students to select their favorite genre of music as well as some of their preferred artists from within each category.
“Rap was the most voted-for genre, so we thought a rap artist should be the headliner,” Civale said. “We ended up getting A$AP Ferg, who was the most voted-for artist in that category.”
Smallpools and Vanic were selected based on the remaining budget and survey responses. Last year, only two artists performed at Ivies. In the past, the lineup has fluctuated between two and three performers.
“If [a second performer] comes up and it’s like ‘Oh, this would be a steal,’ but it ends up taking the rest of our money, we’d just go for it,” Jurakhan said.
Civale reports receiving generally positive reactions to the three performers from students.
“From talking to friends and peers, people have been happy,” Civale said. “I’ve noticed that everyone has talked to me about a different artist they’re excited for.”
Clayton Starr ’19 appreciated the addition of Smallpools to this year’s lineup.
“Last year was all hype music all the time,” he said. “They didn’t really have an indie band, so that will be nice.”
A$AP Ferg’s most recent album, “Always Strive and Prosper,” was released in the spring of 2016 to widespread acclaim. “Work REMIX” is the artist’s most popular song and has over 82 million listens on the music streaming app Spotify.
“There’s buzz about him, and so I’m buzzing about him,” said Joseph Gowetski ’20.
Though less widely known than A$AP Ferg, Vanic’s popularity has been on the rise as the DJ shifts away from remixing existing songs to creating his own tracks. The up-and-coming DJ released “Too Soon” just over a month ago. The track has already garnered more than four million listens on Spotify.
Despite generally approving of the lineup, Starr believes this year’s concerts are generating less excitement around campus than last year’s headlining act, Waka Flocka Flame.
“It’s hard to beat the hype of Waka,” he said. “There’s nothing like it.”
Civale, who has been on eBoard for four years, disagreed.
“Every year [eBoard] has said that it’s the best, but we really do think this year is the best lineup we’ve ever had,” he said.
Due to the NESCAC Spring Track and Field Championships that take place on Whittier Field on April 29, Saturday’s concert will be held indoors at the William Farley Field House. Many students expressed disappointment when eBoard broke the news in December, but Civale and Jurakhan noted that the indoor concert creates new possibilities for performance and lighting effects.
“The good thing about being indoors is that there are perks that we haven’t had in the past that [students] will find out about soon,” Jurakhan said.
Productive disruption: Trump effigy challenges campus complacency
In the days immediately following November’s presidential election, Emily Simon ’17 felt that the student body had already begun to move on from its disappointment.
“I had a premonition that was grounded in past experience at Bowdoin. Today sucks, and maybe tomorrow will suck, but after that we’re all just going to go back to business as usual,” Simon said.
It is this political complacency that inspired her, alongside Haleigh Collins ’17, Kenny Shapiro ’17 and Laura Griffee ’17, to create a giant sculpture of President Donald Trump’s head.
Students may have already taken note of the unnamed and unfinished piece, which has been in the Lamarche Gallery since Saturday and will be on display until the first week of March. The piece is crafted mostly from recycled cardboard boxes. It will ultimately include videos projected onto the sculpture depicting reactions to the election of Bowdoin students and others.
The artists hope that the piece will catch the attention of the members of the Bowdoin community and encourage them to engage with political issues that they may not otherwise consider on a day-to-day basis.
“[Our goal is] disruption but in a productive, nuanced and thoughtful way,” Collins said.
The students came up with the original concept for the installation immediately after election day in A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli’s “Abstractions” class.
“We felt that people had already moved on,” Shapiro said. “[The piece] was definitely born out of our frustration and anger with a very targeted demographic.”
Though the four students consulted with several faculty members as well as former Sculptor in Residence John Bisbee, they created the piece outside of the classroom. This independence of their work and separation from the institution of Bowdoin is part of the project’s appeal to Simon.
“The most exciting thing for me has been working on something that challenges the need to protect our comfort in the status quo at Bowdoin,” she said.
The ways in which the artists chose to address the politically provocative sentiments they hope the piece will represent have changed over the months after the election. During this time, they have considered different political perspectives and the variety of ways in which students might be impacted by the Trump presidency. The final product seeks to explore the political climate in a manner that is serious rather than flippant or absurd.
“We recognize that there are a ton of people at Bowdoin and elsewhere who are dealing with this issue on a very serious level,” Griffee said. “As artists, we have been struggling to try to be very careful and respectful of that possibility.”
The team’s original concept for the piece’s video component focused solely on the perspectives of the Bowdoin community. When Griffee invited students to give video testimonials, she was disappointed to receive only seven responses. She decided to use internet sources for the perspectives of strangers, however, ultimately providing a valuable opportunity for both the piece and for Griffee personally. It allowed her to engage with a diversity of identities and opinions.
“I got really excited and sucked into the different video reactions and testimonials,” she said. “I was really interested in listening to other viewpoints that were not my own and humanizing this group of people.”
The students constructed the base of the piece in the garage of Shapiro’s off-campus residence and transported the assemblage of boxes three blocks to David Saul Smith Union on Saturday. The artists said this transportation process was one of the the most rewarding moments in the process of creating the piece.
“Moving it from spot to spot was just so crazy and fun and disruptive and weird,” Shapiro said.
Griffee estimates that around 20 passing students stopped to to inquire about the piece or help her, Shapiro, Collins and Simon lift it over the glass wall separating the gallery from the rest of Smith Union.
“A lot of people were excited that it was naughty on some level, which was exciting, because I didn’t think Bowdoin students had that in them,” Simon said.
In addition to political conversation and heightened awareness, the artists hope their exhibition will generate student engagement with art as a mechanism of political and social discourse.
“Art is something that anyone can literally approach and consider,” Simon said. “It speaks in its own way, and I hope that we’re making a case for public art here.”
Collins, Griffee, Shapiro and Simon aim to complete the piece before the start of next week and encourage members of the Bowdoin community to contact them with questions, concerns or interest in participating in the project.
Bowdoin students bridge gap between liberal arts and public health
Students interested in public health and medicine have stepped off campus to volunteer at Oasis Free Clinics in order to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on practicing health care and supplement their experiences in the classroom.
Oasis is an organization in Brunswick that offers free medical care to the uninsured and low-income members of the local community.
Sarah Steffen ’16 started volunteering with Oasis during her sophomore year at Bowdoin. She graduated last semester and has been an employee at Oasis since January. Steffen said that her work with the organization has equipped her with a unique perspective on medicine and public health that correlates with her experience as a student in a liberal arts institution.
“I originally wanted to be a biology major, but once I started taking sociology classes I was hooked, and I couldn’t go back,” Steffen said. “I love that Oasis works with a vulnerable population and shows that there is a combination of social factors that influence health.”
As an employee at the clinic, Steffen coordinates Oasis’s events, manages its social media and is in the process of conducting a community-needs assessment to evaluate how the clinic can improve its care for patients.
“It can be hard to find opportunities to get your foot in the door in public health because Maine doesn’t have a big centralized public health program,” said Steffen. “But if you find a mentor at a hospital or a smaller clinic that can be a really good way to meet other people … who are really passionate about what they do.”
Julia Michels ’17 has worked with Oasis since the beginning of her junior year at Bowdoin. She said that shadowing physicians and interacting directly with patients has been the most rewarding part of her volunteer experience.
“A lot of patients have mental health issues or unhealthy habits, and the doctors really respect that and try to make them healthier, happier humans,” she said. “There’s never any judgement for their actions or their history or their past.”
Students are not the only Oasis volunteers with Bowdoin ties. Director of Health Services Jeffrey Maher volunteers at Oasis once every three weeks and is enthusiastic about helping connect students with Oasis. Maher became involved with the clinic before working at Bowdoin after being frustrated with his inability to treat patients without health insurance. He describes the community need which Oasis seeks to fill as endless.
“Until a decision is made at a macro level to insure everybody, my best response is a micro level: what can I do to help in the time that I have,” he said. “It’s a challenge to think of that every day, but you do the best you can.”
Anita Ruff, executive director of Oasis Free Clinics, emphasized the importance of volunteering for students interested in medicine.
“You may be doing a wide variety of things that may not seem interesting or fulfilling to you, but every opportunity is a chance to learn,” she said in a phone interview with the Orient. “Whether it’s learning about public health directly or how to be a good teammate or what it means to run a good program.”
The opportunity to complete a rigorous education in a variety of disciplines while still pursuing a career in medicine is part of what drew Ilana Olin ’20 to Bowdoin. She hopes to start volunteering with Oasis.
“I also really like philosophy, and not being on a strict pre-med track where every [first year] is doing the same thing, I have the opportunity to take the classes I want to and get a liberal arts education,” she said.
Olin is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and worked as a member of an ambulance crew during high school. At Bowdoin, Olin is part of the Public Health Club and volunteers at Partners for World Health, a Portland-based organization that sends unused medical products to developing countries. She is looking forward to joining Steffen in volunteering at Oasis, which she hopes will provide her with yet another perspective on what it means to work in the field of public health.
“I think the more exposure I get to different areas of medicine, the more interested and more passionate I become,” she said.
Oasis is not the only place where Bowdoin students have found an outlet to gain experience in public health.
Mason Bosse ’18 believes that working or volunteering with medical organizations is critically important for students interested in careers in medicine or public health. Bosse is also a licensed Advanced EMT and works on ambulance crews based in both Lisbon and Lewiston, Maine and works as an instructor for United Ambulance in Lewiston. He leaves campus almost every weekend, departing on Friday and returning Monday morning.
“There is a big problem with physicians and physician assistants in the medical field who are very scientific but aren’t very good with people,” he said. “Volunteering, getting involved and actually getting hands-on experience can really open your eyes to whether or not it’s the right field for you.”
BQSA members inspired by trans conference
Last week, six members of the Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance (BQSA) attended First Event, an annual conference held in Marlboro, Massachusetts dedicated to the transgender and gender-variant community. The event is in its 37th year, but this was the first time a group of Bowdoin students attended.
Gabi Serrato Marks ’15 served on the event’s steering committee for the Youth and Family program and invited Bowdoin students to attend.
The conference aims to create a sense of community and solidarity among youth who identify as transgender or gender-variant. It also provided a space for participants from across New England to ask questions about gender identity.
“My boyfriend is transgender, and being at the conference was a nice way to be around other trans people, as well as to work on creating more equality and opportunity for trans people,” Serrato Marks said.
Bowdoin students attended panels, discussions and lectures within the event’s Youth and Family program. Serrato Marks spoke at one panel dedicated to relationships and dating. Rayne Stone ’18 said the panel was one of the most meaningful parts of the conference, and hopes to create a similar event at Bowdoin.
“We don’t ever really talk about the specific experience of being trans and trying to navigate dating,” said Stone.
The conference also featured a keynote address by minister and activist Louis Mitchell, who spoke about privilege within the gender-variant community.
“That was something that hit home for me,” Stone said. “It is something that I see happening at Bowdoin … as well as in my own experience as a white-passing trans person.”
Several Bowdoin students who attended the conference said that one of its most empowering and meaningful moments was a fashion show that took place on Friday night.
“Seeing everyone express themselves in a way that made them feel comfortable, even if they don’t feel safe expressing themselves that way at home, was really joyful and it was a really great space to be in,” Stone said.
Students had the opportunity to speak to the husband of one of the show’s participants after the show.
“He was cisgender and straight, but it was interesting to hear his point of view as an ally and a partner,” said Fiona Doherty ’20. “He was very supportive.”
Serrato Marks hopes to make the conference, which was mostly attended by white transgender women, more diverse in future years. Additionally, she plans on working with BQSA to create a program specifically geared towards gender-variant people who are college age.
“There’s this big gap between youth and adulthood … this college-age part was really missing” said Sophie Sadovnikoff ’19. “College can be a really difficult time and a big transition.”
BQSA is working to create a month of activism and awareness during February, called Februqueery. Stone hopes to share the messages of acceptance and pride that students experienced during the conference.
“It’s important to have empathy for other people,” said Stone. “It’s important to have compassion and empathy for yourself, and it’s important to try to recognize your own positions of privilege to use your privilege in a way that is constructive to other people.”
Student-curated exhibit gives snapshots of American photography
Art History students dug into the College’s archives to curate a photography exhibition that opened on Wednesday. Each student in Assistant Professor of Art History Dana Byrd’s “Snap, Shoot, Instagram: A History of Photography” class presented collections of photos inspired by a specific theme in the history of photography on the second floor of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library.
The class’s concentrations ranged from the evolution of photographic technology to the representation of women and indigenous peoples. Although Byrd has taught the course three times, this is the first time she has incorporated a curation project.
“[Students] translated ideas that may be deeply involved with theory into something that anyone walking by a case can begin to understand by looking at the objects,” she said.
After selecting their themes, students worked with Special Collections Education and Outreach Librarian Marieke Van Der Steenhoven to explore the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives and selected between two and five books, photographs or other items relating to their theme.
Many students had never used Special Collections before taking the course, and Van Der Steenhoven hopes that the exhibition will encourage those students to come back and to invite others in.
“One of the things that I find really exciting about Special Collections here at Bowdoin is that our collections are incredibly diverse and they are here for the students to use,” she said.
Special Collections houses over 50,000 rare books as well as the manuscripts of more than 300 families and individuals.
“Getting to go through all the different sources was really interesting, and to see the sheer volume of objects in the collection is really impressive,” said Ethan Bevington ’19.
After looking through the artifacts in the Special Collections reading room, students wrote labels and texts for the pieces they chose to display. Some students found the process of consolidating all of their research into a paragraph under 200 words to be challenging.
“You don’t want to leave anything out, but you don’t want to make it too long so that people are nervous to read it,” Emily McColgan ’17 said. “You have to find a balance.”
Byrd hopes that students’ descriptions and curatorial work will teach visitors to the exhibit about the history of photography and encourage them to consider the art form in new ways.
“It’s nice to kind of see the texture of the real object, to look at different historic photo processes as they change over time, to look at different sizes: all of the sort of things you lose by looking at a digital image or a JPEG,” Byrd said.
The opening of “Shoot, Snap, Instagram” also featured a ‘selfie station’ of enlarged reproductions of photographs from the college archives as they relate to the various themes relating to the history of American photography.
The exhibit will be on display until the end of the semester in May.
Large-format bird illustrations take flight in Hawthorne-Longfellow
For the past year, a nearly 200-year-old, hand-colored edition of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” has been on display in Special Collections. A small crowd gathers on the first Friday of every month for a ceremonial page turning. Should the page-turning continue each month, it won’t be until the year 2052 that every page will have been displayed.
The book, which depicts one species on each page, is so large that it requires two librarians to turn the pages. Once a month, Special Collections holds this ceremonial page-turning in the Reading Room. The 12th page-turning event will take place on Friday at 12:30 p.m. and will feature a short presentation by biologist Justin Schuetz ’94.
Schuetz believes that the fusion of artistic and scientific talent represented in this rare edition of “The Birds of America” will draw a wide range of Bowdoin faculty, staff, students and community members to the page-turning.
“Some people will come because of an interest in art and art history. Others will come because of an interest in book making, and I suspect there will be some bird watchers there,” he said. “What Audubon does uniquely well is put all those people together in one room and have them see something that is interesting to all of them.”
Much like “The Birds of America,” Schuetz’s career and passions straddle the worlds of art and science. After graduating from Bowdoin, he earned a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University as well as a Masters of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. A selection of his photographic work was displayed at Bowdoin during the 2015-2016 academic year.
According to Special Collections Education and Outreach Librarian Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, a group of bird enthusiasts from the surrounding communities has consistently attended the page-turnings since the event debuted in January of this year.
“There is starting to be a community around the page turning. I think it’s a fun way to come in and see something totally different and have an excuse to stop studying for a minute,” Van Der Steenhoven said.
The event on Friday will reveal the bird to be on display for the month of December. Schuetz plans on discussing the biology of the species and the way in which that biology is depicted in Audubon’s art. Attendees of the event will receive a complimentary pin featuring the species of the month and will have the opportunity to explore a selection of books about birds that will be on display in the reading room.
Van Der Steenhoven hopes that the page-turning will help expose members of the Bowdoin community to Special Collections.
“I think that this department is a hidden treasure of the College,” she said.
QuestBridge scholarship program helps pave path towards college
When Simone Rumph ’19 first heard about the Palo Alto-based nonprofit QuestBridge as a junior in high school, she thought the program was too good to be true.
“I thought it was a complete hoax,” Rumph said.
QuestBridge is a scholarship program that helps students from low-income families apply to and pay for tertiary educations at 38 of the nation’s most selective institutions including Bowdoin, Williams, Amherst, Yale and the University of Virginia.
According to its website, QuestBridge looks for “high school seniors who have shown outstanding academic ability despite financial challenges.” Finalists are typically from households that earn less than $65,000 annually for a family of four.
To begin the process, students send applications to the organization’s headquarters for review. Those who are accepted as finalists are eligible to apply to colleges using the organization’s “National College Match” program. This program allows students to choose up to 12 institutions to apply to in early November using a specialized application that seeks to represent students’ financial and familial situations in addition to their academic and extracurricular profiles. QuestBridge students then rank colleges in order of preference and are obligated to attend the highest ranked school on their list to which they are accepted.
Gerlin Leu ’19, who is the Bowdoin QuestBridge chapter liaison said that one of QuestBridge’s most important functions is to expose finalists to a wider range of schools than they may have otherwise been aware of. Leu, for example, attended high school in Texas, and the majority of her peers stayed in-state for college.
“I never would have known about liberal arts colleges in New England,” Leu said. “For me, QuestBridge was the thing that taught me about a lot of these colleges.”
QuestBridge also helps connect prospective students with college-sponsored programs that allow students to visit schools without the concern of expenses, like the Explore Bowdoin program.
Rumph’s experience with Explore Bowdoin is what ultimately led her to rank Bowdoin first on her early application list.
“I came home [after visiting] and I thought ‘I want to go back, because that felt like home,’” Rumph said.
When participants finally arrive on campus as students, they are welcomed by upperclass QuestBridge Scholars, who work to support the first-years as they make the transition to Bowdoin.
The on-campus community of QuestBridge Scholars meets informally now, but Leu is working to create an official club for QuestBridge students and other members of the Bowdoin community who identify as having come from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds.
QuestBridge Scholar Eskedar Girmash ’20 hopes that the establishment of an official club will help forge connections with students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in the program.
“We can reach out to them and share the resources we’ve gained, and I think having regular meetings will allow us to talk about things we face on campus with those who identify with our problems,” she said.
One of Leu’s goals as liaison this year is to create a campus-wide dialogue about issues of socioeconomic diversity on campus, and eventually establish an on-campus center, distinct from the Student Center for Multicultural Life, focused on such issues.
Despite the discomfort that often surrounds discussions of economic difference, Girmash says she believes such discussions are important in helping QuestBridge and other low-income students transition to Bowdoin.
“Once we start talking about it, it will help low income students feel welcome here and help them feel not like a token applicant … but rather that they belong here and have the support that they need,” Girmash said.
Professor Michael Kolster documents plastic 'fossils of the future'
An interdisciplinary journey through photography, anthropology and geology led Associate Professor of Art Michael Kolster to a remote, garbage-ridden beach on Hawaii’s Big Island last March.
It all started after Kolster read an article in the New York Times that described the work of three geologists who traveled to Hawaii in search of a new kind of stone called “plastiglomerate,” formed by discarded plastic fused with rock. Kolster’s interest was piqued by the article’s claim that these artificial stones would become a permanent part of the geological record—a kind of fossil of the future.
“These particular objects will become portraits of us for whoever uncovers them hundreds or millions of years from now, and they will indicate a moment of geological time where humans have begun to alter geological history,” Kolster said.
He contacted the researchers cited in the New York Times article in hopes of seeing the plastiglomerates for himself and discovered that the researcher in possession of the physical plastiglomerate samples was a visual artist. The artist refused Kolster’s request to photograph the objects as she planned on incorporating them into her own artistic project. Not to be deterred, Kolster was awarded a Faculty Research Award to travel to the remote Kamilo beach, known also as “junk beach” for the massive quantities of refuse that wash ashore, where the original samples had been found.
With the help of a local resident, Kolster spent a day photographing plastiglomerates, other trash and the general landscape.
Kolster said that it was the beach’s imperfections that he found most compelling. He hopes his work will encourage viewers to look for beauty and opportunity in places one might consider flawed.
“Places that demonstrate our presence have a certain value and allure, and they deserve our attention and deserve to be taken care of,” he said. “We have pretty much affected or altered every spot on the earth; we tend to neglect the places we’re actually living in and have attachment to, in some ways because of how we’ve changed them.”
Kolster captured the plastiglomerates using the technique of stereography, which, when viewed properly, allows the audience to experience the images in three dimensions. According to Kolster, the experience of viewing stereographs pushes viewers to engage more actively with the images. Additionally, the technique is often employed by scientists when documenting data in order to create a more accurate representation of their subjects.
“I’m not a scientist, but I’m interested in that language and I’m interested in having the pictures become credible and believable,” Kolster said. “That’s an important quality that I want to have in my pictures generally: that if you were there, you could see them, and you could connect with them in a similar way.”
Kolster hopes to publish the project, titled “Chronicle of the Geologic Record Foretold” as part of a larger collection of his work. He said that one of the most rewarding parts of this project was the way in which it connected unexpectedly to some of his other recent projects, including a photographic study of rivers across the country, such as the Los Angeles and the Androscoggin rivers. Both projects represent nature in a singular temporal moment, yet seek to encourage the viewer to contemplate nature’s constancy.
“When you look at a still picture you realize it isn’t life. So then you ask yourself, what is life? Life is change and flux. And a photograph basically stands in relief to that,” Kolster said.
Russell ’17 proposes BSG committee to address safety, town relations
During the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) meeting on Wednesday evening, Representative At-Large Jacob Russell ’17 proposed the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee for Off Campus Safety and Town Relations in light of recent concerns surrounding student safety.
Due to time constraints, BSG was not able to vote on the committee’s creation. If approved, the committee will be open to all members of the student body who wish to participate. Russell specifically mentioned his desire to include students who live off campus and members of sports teams in the committee. Members would be responsible for meeting with municipal leaders such as the town manager and generating proposals to be brought before BSG for approval.
The renewed attention to safety both on and off campus comes after a number of incidents that occurred last year, including gropings and a sexual assault at Mayflower Apartments. Many students also reported cat-calling and other forms of verbal harassment when walking or exercising in Brunswick.
The assembly also discussed the possible creation of a BSG-organized workshop in response to students’ concerns about cat-calling. The workshop would provide students with tools to deal with harassment, specifically in off-campus settings.
Representative At-Large Leah Matari ’20 spoke up in support of the proposal, citing her own experiences with verbal harassment blocks away from campus. She hopes that, if established, the Committee for Off Campus Safety and Town Relations will work closely with the Brunswick City Council, the town manager and the Brunswick Police Department (BPD) to foster better understanding between the municipal organizations and Bowdoin students.
“I think that students will feel more safe walking into town if students are aware that BPD is aware of the kinds of cat-calling that all the women and girls have to deal with,” Matari said.
Russell acknowledged that though the school does not have the ability to control the behavior of Brunswick residents in town, even the effort to reach out could help improve the relationship between the town and the College.
“I think just having a presence and working with the police and making that relationship more positive is an important step, because right now it’s going in a direction that is not looking super positive,” Russell said.
BSG will vote on the creation of the Ad Hoc committee at their next meeting on Wednesday, October 26.
In addition, Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability Carlie Rutan ’19 shared plans to meet with Vice President and Interim Head of Finance and Administration Matthew Orlando to discuss the cost of installing more overhead lights around campus and to create a survey to send out to the student body to gauge student opinion on which areas are too dark.
Kerney '02 returns to promote new novel
Kelly Kerney ’02 visited Bowdoin on Tuesday to read from her recently published novel, “Hard Red Spring.” The book addresses the complicated and tragic history of American involvement in Guatemala through the lens of four women.
“A remarkable book by a remarkable writer, and I’m proud to say she’s one of our own,” said Professor of English Brock Clarke in his introduction of the event.
Split into four sections, each offers the perspective of a different female protagonist within in a different time period in the South American nation’s twentieth century. Standing at a podium in the Faculty Room of Massachusetts Hall, Kerney read an excerpt of her book and then took questions from the assembled students and faculty.
Tuesday’s campus visit marks Kerney’s second event at Bowdoin; she read from her debut novel, “Born Again,” following its publication in 2006.
Coming to the College as a student from a sheltered and highly religious childhood in Ohio, Kerney said her Bowdoin education provided the backbone for what would become her literary career.
“I came to Bowdoin really, really unprepared for college,” she said in a phone interview with the Orient. “I’d never written a paper before and I didn’t know what half the things in the course catalogue were.”
One of the courses that piqued her interest was a course on the modern history of Latin America. It was this class that would not only provide the inspiration for “Hard Red Spring,” but also revolutionize Kerney’s worldview. After that first year at Bowdoin, Kerney said she knew she wanted to write about the relationship between the United States and Latin America.Kerney also credits Bowdoin’s Department of English with teaching her the skills necessary for a career in writing.
“I truly believe that 90 percent of writing is reading, and I learned this here [at Bowdoin],” she said.
Writer-in-Residence Anthony Walton worked with Kerney in class and in her honors project in creative writing. He said Kerney improved as a writer “week by week,” and was always enthusiastic about what she was learning.
“That sort of student is always exciting, because as a professor you have to keep pushing to ‘stay ahead’ of the student,” Walton wrote in an email to the Orient. “It’s a challenge of the best kind, as you are not only challenging the student but being challenged by her.”
Published by Penguin Random House, “Hard Red Spring” has received positive reviews from a variety of sources including Publisher’s Weekly and The New Yorker, which called the novel “ambitious” and “rewarding.”
Kerney said she hopes the novel will educate readers and encourage them to connect emotionally with the historically significant subject matter. Savannah Horton ’17 attended the reading and said that though she didn’t know what to expect at the outset of the event, she enjoyed hearing about Kerney’s career and inspiration for the book.
“It was very exciting to hear from a Bowdoin graduate who was so successful in writing,” Horton said.
Kerney’s most important advice to Bowdoin students interested in writing is to set aside time to write.
“In the end, writing is still you and the page, and you’ve got to give that time,” she said.
Common Good Day connects Bowdoin, midcoast communities
Last Saturday, the McKeen Center for the Common Good coordinated Bowdoin’s 18th annual Common Good Day. More than 450 members of the Bowdoin community participated in the tradition, working with 54 nonprofit organizations and municipalities throughout the Brunswick area.
The day started at Farley Field House, where students, faculty, staff and alumni congregated at 11:30 to check in with projects they had selected or been assigned before hearing a short talk from Jamie Silvestri, the founder of ArtVan, a mobile arts therapy organization. Silvestri spoke about mindfulness in community service and the importance of being present and engaged. After lunch and Silvestri’s talk, the groups boarded vans and buses or walked to their projects on foot. Some groups stayed on campus and worked in the community garden, while others drove as far as Augusta, Maine.
Preparation for the day-long event began in June. Common Good Day Coordinator Sydney Avitia-Jacques ’18 worked in the the McKeen Center over the summer. She chose to become involved because she wanted to get acquainted with the McKeen Center staff and the work they do.
“I actually hadn’t been involved with the McKeen Center since my orientation trip … but I was interested in learning more about what they did and getting more involved in service work because that’s one of the reasons that I chose [to attend] Bowdoin,” Avitia-Jacques said. Avitia-Jacques and the McKeen staff worked to contact and select organizations from a list of over 170 community service groups in midcoast Maine.
“We review it every year to make sure we’re not missing anyone who could be an interesting partner, especially if we’re thinking about doing more work with [for example] Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, an organization that’s new this year and, students are really excited to work with immigrant populations,” said Sarah Seames, director of the McKeen Center.
Among the organizations that students worked with this year, seven had never worked with Bowdoin before. A few organizations continue to be Common Good Day staples. ArtVan has hosted Common Good Day participants for the past 11 years.
As the summer drew to a close, the event’s leaders’ began to shift their attention from contacting organizations to recruiting students to lead and participate in the individual excursions.
Nan Ding ’19 led a group of six students to the Falmouth Land Trust. She became involved as a leader after signing up for Common Good Day with a small group of friends, and said she appreciates the democratic and inclusive nature of the day.
“What I really like about Common Good Day is that everyone…can lead a group, and it’s randomly assigned, so you don’t have to sign up for a particular group,” she said.
Ding’s group worked with a member of the Falmouth Land Trust to build a fire ring and three foot bridges for the organization.
“[The man we worked with] appreciated our work and we appreciated him hosting us. It was a very nice experience,” Ding said.
Avitia-Jacques said she believes the most important part of the day is its impact on student participants, especially first-year students who are still getting to know the Maine community.
“For a lot of first years, it sets the tone for service, and having that mindset is important to different people at Bowdoin. For me as a first year, Common Good Day was the only volunteering that I did, so it gave me an entryway to learning about the McKeen Center,” she said.
Kenneth Lamm ’20 said he plans to do more work with the McKeen Center following his involvement with Common Good Day.
“It’s nice and very organized. It was a great feeling after you finished,” he said.