First-Year Wonders When He Will Learn More Than Just His Classmates’ Names

By JACK SHANE Oct. 16, 2018

A month into his Bowdoin career, Jared Whatshisface knows about as many people as he did at the end of orientation. Those people include (in order of familiarity) his floormates, O- tripmates, and random mates he’s met from around the quad. He explained,“95% of people I see, either in class or around campus, are elusive faces. I have no clue what anyone’s name is. My best guess is something New Englandy, like Rob Gronkowski.”

Jared, like most first years, has mastered the “Hey you!” greeting and has perfected the art of deflecting conversations away from names. This, of course, is the offer of the college: to be at home in all lands without learning the names of those who inhabit the land you’re feeling at home in. Bowdoin President Clayton Rose embodies the offer, admitting, “I don’t know anyone of my co-workers by their name. I usually just scream until someone comes in to check on me.”

For this reason, President Rose has added to the student handbook: “Just as an FYI to you guys, we don’t care whether you remember anybody’s name. In your work life, no one is gonna know your name, so we’re just giving you a sneak peek of what’s to come.”

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