Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Racial Justice

Bowdoin College acknowledges and takes pride in the work of its alumni, students, faculty, and staff throughout the history of the College to further diversity, inclusion, and racial justice. The College’s financial aid program, made possible by the generosity of alumni and parents, has provided opportunity to scores of students of color in a way that is matched by only a few other colleges and universities in the country, and the College has made steady progress in building diversity in the student body.

There is more to do in this regard with respect to students, faculty, and staff, and diversity in numbers is not enough. Bowdoin must also be an inclusive community, one with a genuine and effective commitment to racial justice where everyone has the opportunity to belong and to know that they belong, rather than feeling like guests where they have been invited to live and work. Bowdoin must also be a community where there is equity in the opportunity to pursue the same successes, outcomes, and lived experiences.

Bowdoin’s mission requires the College to prepare students to lead in a world where the demographics are changing rapidly and where individual identities are simultaneously being understood and celebrated—and contested and denigrated. These changes and issues have profound political, social, economic, cultural, and scientific implications. Bowdoin students need the skills and tools to understand, navigate, and discuss race and racism and their implications in a knowledgeable, authentic, and respectful way.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work at the College involves engaging with challenges and barriers across an array of identities and differences, including gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and ability, among others. It is focused initially on racial justice, with specific attention to issues and challenges facing the Black members of the Bowdoin community and society, motivated by inequality, that have been allowed to continue unremedied for generations.

This focus does not allow other critical issues to be set aside, and it will inform and enhance DEI work more broadly as the College seeks to:

  • establish a culture where everyone has a true sense of belonging and where everyone has the same opportunities to find success;
  • ensure that majority members of our community are truly engaged in this work;
  • understand the history, context, and lived experiences in the Bowdoin community of those who are not white, as well as those who are marginalized in other ways;
  • build a shared understanding of the issues of race and nature of racism, and of the challenges facing those of marginalized identities more generally; and
  • develop the tools to have honest and respectful discussions about these issues.

There is much to do in realizing these goals, and this work is underway in each of the College’s divisions, led by the senior staff, to identify and correct those structures at Bowdoin (policies, practices, and behaviors) that impede equity of opportunity and the ability to belong. This work and the goals for 2021 are available on the Bowdoin website.