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Bowdoin College

Undergraduate School

Mailing Address
255 Maine St
Brunswick, Maine 04011
Phone
(207) 725-3000
Email address
admissions@bowdoin.edu
School Information
"Bowdoin College is historic. And selective. And rigorous. But most importantly, we were founded and endowed with the belief that there is something bigger than ourselves. What does it mean for a college to do the right thing? It means building a curriculum that stretches what’s expected of the liberal arts. A Bowdoin education brings context, history, integrity, and empathy to the world around us." (Source: hhttps://www.bowdoin.edu/about/index.html)
General Information
In addition to providing Black Lives Matter "wellness" resources to its students, Bowdoin College has also expanded the scope of its "Common Good" program, allowing students to submit projects related to equity and anti-racism. Additionally, the College implemented a new academic requirement, the "Difference, Power, and Equity" requirement. The college also rolled out a DiversityEdu course "to establish a common diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) understanding..." for the "...entire Bowdoin community—students, faculty, staff, and trustees." Based on publicly available information, this training appears to be strongly encouraged, but it is not explicitly clear whether it is mandatory. See developments below:

Actions Taken

Admissions Policies
  • The Office of Inclusion and Diversity at Bowdoin published its March 2023 update which states, "We will work to understand and address the unintended impact of bias in the admissions interview process by conducting a demographic audit of students who complete an interview and their admission and yield outcomes."
  • On June 29, 2023, Bowdoin's President issued a statement in response to the Supreme Court's ruling on affirmative action which reads in part as follows: " [It] is clear and deeply disappointing that the court overturned more than forty years of precedent that has enhanced diversity in campus communities...We also believe the decision undermines the long-term effort to recognize and respond to the structural obstacles for those in our society who have faced the most profound barriers to opportunity. The College will, of course, review the court’s opinion with great care and comply with its mandates. At the same time, and as I wrote to you last August, 'whatever the outcome and no matter how challenging the work, we will never back away from our commitment to build and sustain a truly diverse community where everyone has the opportunity for an equitable experience and an enduring sense of belonging'.” 
Anti-Racism, Bias, and Diversity Training
  • The college rolled out a "baseline diversity course" supported by "DiversityEdu" which will work to "establish a common diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) understanding across our community" for all students, staff, faculty, and trustees.
  • The school said, "...the entire community of Bowdoin staff, faculty, and students has been engaging in a campus-wide, multipart curriculum to examine issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI. This semester, the College is specifically focusing on the persistence of anti-Black racism in US systems." The workshop offered at the beginning of 2021 "looked at the ways bias appears in our lives and workplaces, and covered a range of issues including racism, homophobia, religious discrimination, ableism, and ageism." The school is now partnering with the Racial Equity Institute "to offer multiple sessions of a three-hour workshop called 'The Groundwater Approach to Racial Equity.' The many sessions offered throughout the semester, and on different days of the week and times, ensure people can fit one into their schedules...The Groundwater Approach uses a slew of data and academic studies to draw an unassailable picture of structural racism in the US. It looks at the presence of racism in five broad areas: child welfare, health, juvenile justice, education (both achievement and special education), and economic development."
  • The McKeen Center will, "Adapt the Antiracism Volunteering Workshop to be used in trainings for student leaders and program participants."
  • Bowdoin's Office of Inclusion and Diversity is a member of the "Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA)", which annually hosts "a dozen eConvenings, each on a particular aspect of racial equity." These are professional development training sessions.
Curriculum Changes and Requirements
  • The College renamed the "Explore Social Differences" requirement as the "Difference, Power and Inequity" requirement.
Disciplinary Measures
  • The McKeen Center, "Developed a protocol for reporting racist experiences in McKeen Center spaces and in the community."
  • The college's Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance outlines its bias reporting system and states that the college "strives to provide a place of study and work free from unlawful harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, and gender-based violence of any kind."
Faculty/Staff Requirements
  • According to Campus Reform, the college made "diversity, equity, and inclusion training mandatory for coaches." The college also hired the "Institute for Sport and Social Justice to train its athletics department as part of a mandatory DEI training."
  • According to the McKeen Center, "Members of the Staff Committee have attended virtual conferences and participated in discussion groups and conversations both on- and off-campus around the topics of racism and antiracism, both broadly and in the context of higher education and community engagement."
  • The McKeen Center also, "Developed ongoing professional development initiatives for all McKeen Center staff including monthly all-staff meetings focusing on different elements of antiracism work as well as triannual staff retreats focused on action-oriented antiracism goals."
  • The McKeen Center will, "Edit job descriptions for professional and student staff to include antiracism and examine what existing work may need change to make room for antiracism work."
Program and Research Funding
  • “Common Good” grant program will accept applications for projects that relate to justice, equity, and anti-racism, among other subjects.
  • College fundraised to hire new Director of Multicultural Alumni Engagement.
  • The Office of Inclusion and Diversity is spearheading an "eight-session Social Justice Leadership Institute." The program is made to "educate student leaders in promoting social justice and equity...the College envisions this program as a holistic examination of systemic issues and communities while bringing together topics from prior workshops," according to the Bowdoin Orient.
  • The Times Record reports, "Bowdoin College’s Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good is opening its 2021–22 Common Good Grant application process. This year, community organizations may apply for a grant of up to $2,500 or for a $5,000 grant that may increase their impact on their constituents...This year’s Common Good Grant student committee commits to funding at least one qualified grant in each of the five following areas: justice, equity and anti-racism; arts, history, and culture; health and basic needs; adult and youth education and development; environment, agriculture and sustainability."
  • The McKeen Center will also be "hiring an Antiracism McKeen Fellow to assist staff in this work." By May 2021, "The McKeen Center hired three Antiracism Fellows who supported staff with projects related to antiracism as well as provided feedback on the department’s initiatives and evolving practices related to antiracism." The Center also "Created a paid Social Justice Fellowship for the summer of 2021."
  • The Office of Inclusion and Diversity encourages all departments and offices to apply for grants up to $10,000 that focus on issues of diversity and inclusion at the college. One example of a diversity program listed is, "Enhanced education on microaggressions and understanding the generational shift in the student body." 
  • Bowdoin's Baldwin Center for Teaching and Learning promotes "intentional, inclusive equitable, and effective learning and teaching environments across campus."
  • The college is seeking "distinguished faculty scholars to fill four newly-endowed chairs" in race, racism, and racial justice. The description further states, "These scholars can be from any discipline, but their teaching would help students better understand the challenges facing Black communities, especially those in the Americas and the US, and their presence would help shift Bowdoin in the direction of greater diversity, equity, and inclusion."
Resources
  • The college will be offering, as part of its health and wellness program, Black Lives Matter and anti-racism programs/events.
  • The college’s museum of art hosted a webinar on “Protest Art and Black Lives Matter”.
  • The college will be administering its "first comprehensive race survey." The school said, "The survey will give participants a chance to report on how current diversity and inclusion programs at Bowdoin are working, and provide inspiration and ideas for future programs."
  • The college's McKeen Center for the Common Good will be revising its "learning goals to include antiracism," "identifying and building relationships with organizations doing antiracism work in local communities," "forming a staff committee who meet frequently to touch base on our goals and move them forward," and "auditing all of our programs to examine where racist policies or practices may currently exist."
  • The McKeen Center "Partnered with SWAG and the Student Center for Multicultural Life for the 'Race and the Criminal Justice System' series, which included two events in the fall: 'Race, Crime, and COVID-19' and 'On the Ground: A Panel on Criminal Justice Reform with Young Alumni.'" The Center also, "Hosted the first Antiracism Volunteering Workshop."
Symbolic Actions
  • The Office of Inclusion and Diversity at Bowdoin published its March 2023 update which states that following the death of George Floyd in 2020, "we launched an ongoing effort to better understand Bowdoin’s history with respect to race, beginning with an examination of our relationship to Black and Indigenous peoples, while not losing sight of the need to continue our work regarding other identities, including gender and sexual orientation, ability, among others."
  • The college's Museum of Art has developed its "Anti-Racism Action Plan" and states, "In this moment of righteous anger and collective grief, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art rededicates itself to taking meaningful action against the historical forces of systemic racism deeply ingrained in the fabric of our society, and reasserts its determination to support and serve a diverse and inclusive community."
Last updated May 3rd, 2024
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