This past year, student ResLife staff faced new responsibilities and challenges as their role on campus changed, from providing support for first years in a new and sometimes isolating environment to enforcing COVID-19 safety guidelines. Next year, both administrative and upper-class student staff on ResLife are considering how to prepare the rising sophomores new to staff, who have yet to experience a normal semester on campus, for the return to a different Bowdoin in the fall.
The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern has housed 47 first-year students this semester as part of Bowdoin’s plan to secure single rooms for all students needing on-campus housing this spring. The students entered the semester with varying levels of connection to their neighbors: some had met over winter break, and some were core group mates from the fall.
College Houses were once centers of social life on campus. But due to COVID-19, they have been forced to reimagine their position. This year, they have become smaller living environments for “pods” of as few as 10 people, forgoing their typical role in campus-wide programming and community building.
The College expects to resume Orientation trips and activities for the Class of 2025 this upcoming fall, President Rose announced in an email to the Bowdoin community on March 4. He also wrote that similar class-building activities may be offered to the Class of 2024, which did not have Bowdoin’s typical orientation programming this past fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The College welcomed over 1,000 students back to campus earlier this month, but the majority of the Class of 2024 was not among them. After spending the fall semester on campus, many first years returned home, but some were able to find alternate housing to spend the semester elsewhere with friends or family.
When Renske Kerkhofs ’24 left their home country of Belgium to go to Bowdoin this fall, they did not expect to return home until May. “My plan was to stay all through winter break and then just go straight into the spring semester.
Buildings and classrooms were closed. Dining halls only offered take-out meals. Common areas around campus, normally overflowing with talking, laughing students, were deserted. “Closed to Visitors” signs were placed across the quad, making it eerily empty and devoid of activity.
THRIVE and the Center for Multicultural Life partnered to hold a “Through the Decades” alumni panel on Monday evening. The panel consisted of six alumni of color who discussed their experiences at the College. Present on the panel were Tyree Jones ’82, Elijah Whitehead ’94, Chris Knight ’07, Andrea Navarro ’10, Zully Hatch ’11 and Elly Veloria ’20.
As COVID-19 cases surge nation-wide, the Bowdoin community has not been immune. Confronting rising cases of the virus on campus, the administration and on-campus students are evaluating steps forward as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. In a Microsoft Teams interview with the Orient, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen said that he was not surprised about the recent positive cases on campus.
Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout Maine, COVID-19 Resource Coordinator Mike Ranen announced on Friday, November 6 that students would no longer be permitted to leave campus for any reason, effective Saturday, November 7. While many on-campus students said they understood the reasons for this decision, the change was still met with disappointment.
With the student body scattered across the globe, the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) class councils are working hard to prioritize connecting students and providing them with helpful resources. Each class council has slightly different goals. While first years are focusing on facilitating meetings and building community, upperclassmen are striving to make their final semesters special and enjoy more time together.
On Saturday, the Student Center for Multicultural Life hosted a retreat for first-generation (first-gen) first-year students living on campus. The event, which lasted the better part of the day, took place in Farley Field House, where the 26 first-year participants, six first-generation upperclassmen discussion leaders and staff and faculty who participated in a panel and delivered presentations were able to safely gather while maintaining social distance.
The Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) continues to provide trip opportunities for students living on campus despite the limitations on student activities due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). While the trips do look different, the BOC’s goal to provide outdoor experiences driven by student interests while cultivating a sense of community remains the same.
During their first full weekend on campus, many first years and their Residential Life (ResLife) advisors found ways to connect and build community that complied with the College’s Residential Community Agreement. However, in an email to the campus community on Sunday, Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs Janet Lohmann explained that some students had engaged in behavior that violated current College protocols.
This fall, the first-year athlete experience will look a little different than it typically does. Instead of splitting their first couple of weeks on campus between practices with their new team and in-person orientation programming, first-year athletes will, along with most of their classmates, adjust to a life on campus that includes regular COVID-19 testing and social distancing.
Students living on campus have agreed to follow the rules outlined in the seven-page Residential Community Agreement, a guide for student life, quarantine protocols and overall health policies. Rules outlined in the Residential Community Agreement governing the conduct of students living on campus are stringent.