Bowdoin workers are grappling with long-standing economic challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with widespread complaints that the College is not doing enough to pay people fairly or address the rising cost of living in Brunswick.
While to students Bowdoin may feel like the epicenter of life in Brunswick, the town’s legacy was framed by the last housing boom, created in response to the Naval Air Station built after World War II.
The highest number of students in the history of the College are currently living on campus, with 1,814 residing in College housing. This record is a result of more students taking time off in the 2020-2021 academic year and juniors choosing to forego study abroad this semester due to COVID-19 impacting programs around the globe.
They say you never forget your first (-year roommate). For Wilder Short ’22, Brett Thomas ’22, Josh Lin ’22 and David Bombard ’22, this is especially true. What began as a standard first-year roommate assignment has grown into four years of cohabitation, friendship and amateur rap tracks.
As students finish week two of classes and workloads begin to increase, so has the number of COVID-19 cases. According to current manager of isolation housing and Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Assistant to the Dean for Student Affairs Katie Toro-Ferrari, there are 30 students in isolation as of Friday morning.
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.
ResLife offers roommate application to rising sophomores, prepares to expand housing options for fall semester
As the College prepares for a significant increase in the number of students on campus in the fall, the Office of Residential Life (ResLife) is in the process of finding housing accommodations for all returning students.
The release of the Summer Campus Community Agreement this week painted a clear picture of what life on campus will look like for students who sign it, and it is a picture that strongly resembles this past semester at the College.
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.
More students are expected to live on campus next semester than in past years, primarily due to returns from personal leaves of absence, gap years and decreased participation in study abroad. Despite the projected increase in the on-campus student population, the College is positioned to meet increased demand for housing because of the recent openings of Harpswell and Park Row Apartments.
President Clayton Rose sent an email to the campus community on Thursday afternoon announcing that the College expects to welcome all students back to campus in the fall. Rose also outlined plans for commencement and summer on-campus activity.
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.
Staff from Residential Life and the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs—including Director of Residential Education Whitney Hogan, Associate Dean of Upperclass Students Khoa Khuong and Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi—offered several clarifications about the Campus Community Agreement on Monday, November 23 during an informal question-and-answer office hours session with students.
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.
The College released its Campus Community Agreement on Blackboard Thursday for students who intend to live on campus or be in residence for the spring semester. Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi also sent the agreement to these students in an email yesterday evening.
On Tuesday, Lisa Rendall, director of residential and housing operations, sent an email to students with information about the Spring Housing Lottery, which, for the first time in Bowdoin’s history, will be conducted entirely online. The College had been planning to conduct the housing lottery online in April, before it was announced that most upperclass students would reside off-campus for the fall 2020 semester.
In a reversal of the College’s previous policy, which imposed a strict November 21 deadline for all on-campus students to move out, a select group of students were informed last week that they have been approved to stay on campus beyond that date.
The start of the housing lottery, originally scheduled to begin March 31 and then delayed until April 6, has been postponed again until mid-June at the earliest, Director of Residential and Housing Operations Lisa Rendall announced in an email to students Thursday.
Nearly a month before Bowdoin proudly unveiled the four new state-of-the-art apartment buildings on Park Row, the College found itself under fire due to the practices of one of its subcontractors, Timberland Drywall, Inc. Approximately 15 protestors, half of them from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC), held signs outside the construction site accusing Timberland Drywall of tax fraud via the misclassification of their workers.
With one construction project complete, the College is moving forward with its plan to revamp housing for upper class students. Construction began in May on the new Harpswell Apartments, which will house 132 students in three buildings of four-, six- and eight- person apartments, and virtual renderings of the apartments are now available online.
The new Park Row Apartments opened just in time for students to return to campus for the fall semester. One of the four buildings received approval for occupancy from town officials on September 1, just hours before students were set to move in.
This summer, two properties on Federal Street will be converted into chem-free upperclass housing for the next academic year. The properties, 84 and 86 Federal Street, are owned by Bowdoin and currently house employees of the College, who will move out before conversion begins.
After a low turnout in the off-campus housing lottery, this year’s on-campus housing lottery will open the fifth floor of West Hall to upperclass students. According to Lisa Rendall, director of housing operations, the change was made to ensure that all students who enter the lottery will secure a room.