Recently you sat in a circle with a bunch of other students. You recognized some of them, but others were new faces. This group might have been a class or a club or a team. Whatever it was, the leader asked everyone to introduce themselves by name, class year and pronoun.
Editor’s note: At her request, the name of the author of this piece has been abbreviated to protect her identity. Here at Bowdoin, we have a practice of introducing ourselves with our pronouns along with our names.
For better or for worse, the powerful combination of pop culture and the Internet has long been a large presence in my life. Whereas my parents have distinct memories of a time before computers, my earliest memories consist of afternoons taking turns playing games on the Disney Channel website with my younger sister.
“Don’t you think things are better now?” This is not an uncommon question I’ve heard, from people both inside and outside the LGBT community, but it’s always a difficult one for me to answer. Yes, the crowd in 24 College on Thursday evenings is exponentially larger than it had been a decade ago, and yes, I feel safer being out in the majority of situations at Bowdoin than I’m sure my predecessors felt.
President Clayton Rose published an op-ed in TIME Magazine arguing for the importance of the liberal arts. Roughly, his argument is that today “intellectual engagement is too often mocked,” leaving us in a “distressing place… where facts are willfully ignored or conveniently dismissed” and where “Hypocrisy runs rampant and character appears to no longer be a requirement for leadership.” His proposed solution is one we’ve heard from him before: intellectual fearlessness, the notion that one “can consider ideas and material that challenge their points of view, which may run counter to deeply held beliefs, unsettles them or may make them uncomfortable.” I take issue with much of Rose’s argument, and what I find most troubling is his seeming inability to articulate, with substance, a goal, mission and role for the liberal arts that extends beyond banalities.
Last week, the Bowdoin community was in shock upon learning that President Trump would terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As usual, Bowdoin students rallied together in solidarity for a week to support those who would be affected, yet somehow ignored the gravity of the situation the following week.
On Thursday morning, Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster announced the recommendations of the committee charged with reviewing the College’s off-campus housing policy. Although the College aims to use these recommendations to “serve as the basis for a clear and transparent off-campus housing policy,” the recommendations themselves are neither clear nor transparent.
In today’s world, natural disasters are inherently political. They drastically disrupt and change the lives of countless Americans, and it is often the government’s job to provide support and aid in response. This responsibility falls squarely into my choice definition of politics: “Who gets what, where and why.” Because the need for government action is often so sudden, and so concentrated, there is relatively little room for partisan squabbling in the wake of a catastrophic event.
My experiences with social anxiety disorder have often resulted in a fair number of awkward moments. Social anxiety, for me, arises in almost every social context, although there are some exceptions. Nevertheless, in an attempt to grasp onto the unreachable heights of social acceptability, during conversation I often begin to overcompensate.
The common good is deeply moral in theory but deeply elusive in practice. Just in the past year, at least four articles have been written critiquing our execution of Bowdoin’s founding value. I add my voice with the hope that criticism does not enable apathy, but rather sparks action.
If the true test of character is what one does when no one is watching, then the past few months of summer break have presented Bowdoin with plenty of opportunities to prove its mettle. From the fall of the last mortarboard at graduation to the first day of classes this fall, seemingly every headline presented a fresh opportunity for shock, awe and uncertainty.
Because I inherited my mother’s aversion to makeup, I was an easy target for Glossier’s stunningly effective marketing scheme. Rather than use Kendall Jenner’s heavily contoured and enviously symmetrical face for ads, the brand instead tends to recruit “everyday” women to model its minimalist line of makeup on its Instagram account.
This summer I went off-the-grid. It wasn’t in an exotic, adventurous way; I didn’t backpack across the Himalayas or return to Bowdoin with a foreign lover in tow Eat Pray Love style. I lived in New York City and had constant access to all of life’s essentials (and those not as much so, like a Starbucks on every corner), I merely deleted all social media accounts and lived my life as if no one was watching.
At the very end of the summer, just a few days before the rest of the student body returned to campus, the other College House officers and I spent several hours with the Peer Health and Residential Life student team discussing a book we had all read over the summer, Matthew Desmond’s Evicted.
I leapt into life at Bowdoin with force and vigor. I joined an a cappella group, auditioned for a musical, became a tour guide, went to parties and religiously attended office hours. My story is not unusual—nor is my experience with sexual assault at Bowdoin.
In the May 5, 2017 issue of The Bowdoin Orient, Bowdoin Counseling Service published an ad featuring the headline “Everything is Awful and I’m Not Okay: Questions to ask before giving up.” The list, which was discovered to be ripped off from a Tumblr post, poses a list of 16 pithy questions that, apparently, one should consider before following through with whatever “giving up” is a euphemism for (self harm?
I am incredibly grateful for Bowdoin Counseling Service. Without their initial consultation, I never would have been referred to my current off-campus therapist. I would still be stuck in the same negative thought patterns that were not my own, that inhibited me from living the full life that I wanted to live, that placed blame for everything not perfect in my life on me alone and that comprised my disease.
One in four Bowdoin students uses the College’s Counseling Service. However, Bowdoin cannot adequately meet the needs of these 462 students. Counseling Service can’t provide weekly one-on-one sessions, instead offering bi-weekly meetings and group sessions to most students.
This column is a response to the piece “The state of the union remains strong through Trump’s first months.” In their column, Ezra Rice and Francisco Navarro write hopefully about our ability to preserve the American system through Donald Trump’s four years as president: “Though millions of Americans remain worried for the future, we can be reassured by the power of our American system and be certain that the state of our union remains strong.” To me, this positive regard for our system ignores the ways our status quo was failing the majority of Americans before Trump; it also conflates the prosperity of the American people with the stability of our government.
My advice ought to reflect this world as it really is, not a utopian ideal of what it could or should be. I am drawing the parameters of “this world” to encompass Hubbard Hall, the sixth floor of the stacks, the Moulton Light Room and the occasional class in Sills Hall, Adams Hall or on the 16th floor of Coles Tower.
It is no secret that the humanities are fighting to survive in the 21st century. Seeking to justify their existence to federal or state financiers, college presidents and skeptical parents, defenders of the humanities are producing page upon page, book upon book seeking to explain why they do what they do.
By now, we’ve probably all heard about the recent events that unfolded at Middlebury when Charles Murray was invited to speak or the violent protests that arose when Milo Yiannopoulos was asked to speak at UC Berkeley.
Class has occupied a larger space in conversation at Bowdoin this year, or at least people want it to. Symbols and experiences of class, wealth and intergenerational mobility have been built up, broken down and disseminated to the campus through efforts from the McKeen Center for the Common Good, the Orient, Inter-Group Dialogue, The Office of Residential Life and other organizations.
Rachel Baron ’17’s op-ed in last week’s edition of the Orient criticized the Department of Government and Legal Studies as “stuck in the past” and in need of changes that will bring it “into the modern era.” We believe this article is misguided and reflects a misunderstanding of the Government and Legal Studies curriculum.
I will end with a story because it’s an easy way to say goodbye. In ninth grade, I joined the cross-country team because my best friend joined the cross-country team. This is how high school works.
Fortune favors us: the American millennial. We were born in the luckiest place, at the luckiest time in history. Our generation, both the largest and best educated in history, is provided and expects welfare programs, a developed and robust economy, public transportation, emergency health care, rule of law, accountability of our leaders, economic mobility, constitutionally guaranteed individual rights and on average eight decades of life.
The sun is shining and the tank is clean. Yes, it’s that time of year again—the long awaited Ivies week(end). Droves of students flood Salvo to update their mandatory Ivies uniforms: fanny packs, overalls, velvet track suit, jorts, obnoxiously bright neon… everything.
In Joseph McKeen’s inaugural address, delivered at the opening of the College in 1802, this one line has stood the test of time and continues to influence Bowdoin’s self-image to this day: “…It ought always to be remembered, that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good, and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education.” But in the two centuries that have passed since McKeen delivered his address, we have become disconnected from the original meaning of the “common good.” I think the typical way we handle the topic of the common good today is to sidestep the full moral implications of the term.
The other weekend, I was talking with my best friend from Bates College when the subject of the surprise hit thriller “Get Out” came up in conversation. He asked me, “What did you think?” I gave the usual response, saying it was “so good” and “so funny.” He disapproved of the response and retorted, “No, but what did you really think about it?” Honestly, I had to put a great deal of thought into my response.
Bowdoin’s Department of Government and Legal Studies has an incredible reputation. But it is clear to me that its highly ranked status has in fact impeded the department’s motivation to improve. Bowdoin’s government department was the only department that escaped criticism in the 2013 National Association of Scholars (NAS) report—a report in which the major criticisms of Bowdoin were that it is accepting of different gender and sexual identities, that it emphasizes multiculturalism and that it does not focus enough on traditional American and Western political values.
A few months ago, I wrote an article about my experiences navigating small talk at Bowdoin. The tenor of that article was focused on the function of small talk as a mechanism of forming solidarity: Bowdoin students use small talk to commiserate over shared experiences.
On March 8, 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared the Cold War rivalry a “struggle between right and wrong,” and warned against “the aggressive impulses of [said] evil empire.” The message was clear: Communism would not stand.
The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and we agreed that we all can’t save the world. Let me back up. This conversation started when we were talking about Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special on Netflix.
Now that spring has arrived in Brunswick, and it is tolerable, even pleasant, to be outdoors for more than a few minutes, I find it increasingly difficult to stay holed up in a library. Whereas the library provides a warm haven from the colder and darker Maine months, now the shining sun makes those same cubicles feel more like cells.
Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in the “Why Are College Houses So White” discussion panel held at Reed House. A fellow panelist did a wonderful job of explaining how and why they thought students of color could possibly feel isolated in a College House setting.
The scientific method has long been held the hallmark of experimentation in the natural world. Asking a question, formulating and testing hypotheses then collecting and interpreting data allows us to draw educated conclusions about phenomena from ant ecology to particle physics to neurogenesis.
During the whirlwind of first-year orientation, students sit down with their pre-major advisor, which for many sets the tone for their relationships with faculty and academic experience and can significantly shape their academic experience. While some advisors provide necessary support and helpful academic guidance, other advisor-advisee relationships fall flat.
Last Friday, the U.S. Senate finally filled the Supreme Court seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death last February. Everyone knew it would be a contentious fight to determine his replacement, but I don’t think anyone expected the precise turn of events that have brought us to this moment.
I particularly remember a conversation that I had with a college advisor about race during my senior year of high school. Specifically, it was an incident of overt racism that involved the conscious exclusion of a student of color from an event.
Two weeks ago—on Transgender Day of Visibility, as it so happened—our community was made aware, through an Orient article and editorial, of the incidents that have occurred in some men’s bathrooms on campus in response to the Free Flow initiative’s placement of menstrual products in bathrooms for all genders.
Since its inception in the fall of 2012, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) has been dedicated to pursuing the goal of climate justice, on our campus and beyond. Thus far, our endeavor to further that goal has largely manifested in the form of a campaign to divest the College’s endowment from the top 200 oil and gas companies. We are proud of the campaign we’ve run, but for now, it is time to shift the tactic.
The common good is drilled into campus culture—so much so that you may feel you are doing something moral just by attending Bowdoin. For all of the emphasis on the importance of the common good as a value, the College’s actual vision of what this looks like is small and antiquated.
For 22 years, Bowdoin has been celebrating Asian Heritage Week. This month, we’re celebrating Asian Heritage Month, which has doubled the number of programs held at Bowdoin. The month of May is nationally recognized as Asian/Pacific Heritage Month and intends to celebrate the important histories and cultures of diverse Asian communities and Asian American individuals.
Spring is a season of rebirth, reflection and, apparently, snow. This spring, I have decided to swap homework for Recommended Videos on YouTube (“Why These Brothers Killed Their Parents,” “20,000 Calorie Challenge”). This is called Choosing Happiness.
By now, sentences like “Our planet and human civilization teeters precariously on the edge of an unfathomable ecological abyss” are banal and, at worst, elicit an ironic smile. We have good reason to believe that climate change might destroy the foundations of our political and economic systems in a matter of decades, but for some reason it doesn’t feel urgent.
Awash with tears, forgotten homework and calls home, David Saul Smith Union stood aghast as Wolf Blitzer announced the 45th president. Laden with shame and frustration, conversations covered evacuation to Canada, the handling of Donald Trump-supporting Facebook friends and pleas to follow the popular vote—in disregard of the Constitution.
Last Friday, I attended a “speed networking” event hosted by the Bowdoin Career Planning Center. Clad in our finest business-casual attire, 30 or so of my peers and I schmoozed with successful Bowdoin alumni for a couple of hours, rehearsing our small-talk skills and learning how to pitch ourselves to potential employers.
As part of the Free Flow project to make tampons and pads accessible to the Bowdoin community, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) is sponsoring free dispensers in several women’s, men’s and gender-neutral restrooms. Since the dispensers and trash receptacles were installed over break, tampons from the containers in the men’s bathroom have been found in the trash over 10 times.
Our planet and human civilization teeters precariously on the edge of an unfathomable ecological abyss. Runaway global warming and climate change threaten to unravel the web of life beyond anything for which our ancestors could have prepared us.
Among many things, I often regard my adolescence as a self-discovery of my anxiety. My parents were raised in Ghana, where mental health disorders, specifically social anxiety, are often an unspoken topic. Thus, the country is devoid of any semblance of mental institutionalism.
The high quality of our dining hall food is, of course, well known to the entire Bowdoin community. But eating on campus, just as obviously, is not everyone’s preferred option. Especially for those living in campus-provided housing with kitchens or those living off campus, it does not necessarily make sense to pay for the 19-meal, highest-level plan.
In 1850, Bowdoin’s very own Nathaniel Hawthorne published “The Scarlet Letter,” a novel set in 17th century Puritan New England. Hawthorne’s portrayal of the Puritan character remains the image most people have in mind when they think of what a Puritan must have been like: stodgy and conservative, highly intolerant of other religions and denominations, disdainful of pleasure and committed to very strict standards of orthodoxy.
In the wake of the study published by the New York Times earlier this year about economic diversity and class mobility at colleges in the United States, the Orient interviewed a number of students on campus about their experiences with class and how it has impacted their time at Bowdoin.
Unless you’re a hermit or a Floridian, you know that Brunswick was unseasonably warm last week. The mid-February heatwave made for some confused seasonal activities. I, for one, have never had to circumnavigate mounds of snow in 50-degree weather.
I’d like to think of bigotry as misunderstanding, that people are prejudiced because it makes sense to them to be so. In my lifetime, I have come into contact with individuals whom I have avoided associating with because of their discriminatory views.
There are two common categories of identity: those we choose for ourselves and those into which we are born. The former enables proactive, dynamic and deliberate self representation, and it is fashioned by freedom. The latter indicates our heritage and original impressions.
I heard “Cake,” by Flo Rida featuring 99 Percent for the first time at a pregame last weekend (am I behind the times?) and discovered yet another reason to hate myself. There are many reasons to hate oneself at a pregame.