Every November since 2012, the Bowdoin Student Government has planned a month of programming to address bias and try to stamp it out anywhere it flares up.
This year, No Hate November seems particularly meaningful to students grappling with a bitter presidential campaign and the election of a candidate who has been endorsed by white supremacists. “It’s become an even more important month,” BSG president Harriet Fisher ’17 said in a recent interview. She explained that No Hate November is designed to both support Bowdoin students and to examine how bias affects people on and off campus.
In the months and weeks leading up to November, BSG reached out to student groups across campus to seek many different ideas for speakers and events. Fisher said a number of clubs — including the Outing Club, the Multicultural center, the South Asian Student Association, and a group of mental health advocates — responded.
Events kicked off with the opening of an art installation on police violence by Daniel Eloy ’15. The show is in Lamarche Gallery through the end of the month. “The BSG wanted to recognize the role that art and music play in social justice,” Fisher said.
The month’s keynote speaker was Aasif Mandvi, an actor, comedian, playwright, writer, and correspondent for The Daily Show. Mandvi was born in India to a Muslim family. Students packed Morrell Lounge in Smith Union to hear Mandvi, who visited campus the Thursday following the presidential election. The comedian answered student questions, many focused on the recent election, with a mix of sardonic frustration and encouragement about America’s multicultural project. “There were so many students, it was an awesome turnout,” Fisher said. “He used humor to process what happened with the election.”
The previous Friday, the Student Center for Multicultural Life had hosted an event in which two police officers — one white and one black — spoke about policing in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Since then, Latina mental health activist Dior Vargas has come to campus to speak about eradicating mental illness stigmas for people of color. The student group Bear in Mind organized an event for students to talk about mental health. Bowdoin seniors Lan Crofton and Esther Nunoo shared personal stories at a Food for Thought evening, a student-lecture series organized by the BSG. Crofton described his gender transition and Nunoo spoke about navigating “self-hate and failure.” Quinby House hosted the event, “S*** People Say to People of Color,” inviting a panel of students to speak about everyday acts of racism. Perry Cohen, executive director of Venture Out Project, spoke on campus about offering backpacking and wilderness trips for the LGBT community.
The campus will observe Trans Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. in the Smith Union with a service to honor the memory of people who died last year in acts of anti-transgender violence.
The final event of the month will focus on peacemaking. Fisher said several faculty members have been invited to speak about global peacemaking and the process of making peace in our fractured and complex world.