September 13, 2006

To the Editor,

This year's primary election season provides ample evidence that statements made in public or published during one's college years can be resurrected many years later, often to the detriment of a political candidate left struggling with an explanation about youth, context and intent.

Today's technology -- including comprehensive search engines, news alerts, and the rapid worldwide circulation of data -- leaves very little room for what might once have been dismissed as a "youthful indiscretion." Of course, the availability and use of such technology should never be allowed to have a chilling effect on thoughtful discourse and debate, but we are all advised to remember that our words and actions can follow us today as never before.

At Bowdoin, we admit informed students willing to take a stand on issues, and we encourage open debate as part of the educational process and as a hallmark of our community. We expect these debates to be vigorous and thoughtful. Remarks or published statements that are malicious, are intended to breed fear, or that have such an effect unintentionally -- comments such as those made in the early 1980s by a Bowdoin graduate and referenced in last week's edition of the Bowdoin Orient -- are not welcome at Bowdoin, nor will they be condoned here.

Advancements made at Bowdoin and elsewhere in America mean that we are a very different place today than we were even a decade ago. We embrace the belief that a variety of backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences makes us stronger and improves the educational experience for students and for our community. With change can come conflict, disagreement, and misunderstanding. It is our responsibility as members of this community to ensure that we work through these issues in a respectful way, both for the good of Bowdoin and for our own growth as educated citizens. In doing so, we can be proud of ourselves today and confident that we will remain so in the future.

Sincerely yours,

Barry Mills