Fourteen Bowdoin College men’s lacrosse players face disciplinary action by the school for dressing as Native Americans at an off-campus party in November.

Members of the team hosted the party just before Thanksgiving in their residence on Harpswell Road, which is near the campus and commonly referred to by students as the “Crack House.”

The invitation to the party, called “Cracksgiving,” urged students to attend “wearing your finest Thanksgiving attire.” Other players and students attended the party.

The incident was first reported in the Bowdoin Orient, a student newspaper, and confirmed Wednesday by college spokesman Scott Hood.

Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster sent a campus-wide email Tuesday evening to inform the college community that 14 of the lacrosse team’s 50 or so players likely will face some type of discipline.

“For some, wearing a headdress and ‘war paint’ on one’s face and bare chest is just harmless fun,” Foster wrote in the email. “For others, it is cultural appropriation that demonstrates poor judgment and insensitivity. And for others still, it is a racist act that perpetuates prejudice, promotes hurtful stereotypes, and demeans others.

“Especially disturbing is that the hosts of this event knew – or should have known – that their actions would offend; yet they went ahead with their plans nonetheless.”

Foster did not return a phone call or an email seeking comment Wednesday night.

Hood said the discipline could include a range of actions “depending on the circumstances.”

Each student will be required to meet with college officials. After that meeting has been held, the college will decide on a course of punishment that could range from something as severe as suspension or dismissal to a reprimand or being placed on social probation, Hood said.

“We don’t believe this situation rises to the level of suspension or expulsion,” he added.

“What they did was inappropriate. The college has had programs to educate students on these issues.

“The players have apologized and expressed their regret. They’ve had conversations with their coaches. There will be an educational component.”

In his email, Foster said the incident follows a similar party last year that prompted faculty and members of the Native American Students Association to hold events designed to raise awareness of “cultural appropriation.”

In May, students attended a “teach-in” designed to address the issue.

Attempts to reach the Native American Students Association were unsuccessful.

“Many (students) got the point and decided not to wear costumes to Cracksgiving. But others, including some of the party hosts who knew about or attended these educational efforts, chose to willfully ignore the message,” Foster said in his email to the Bowdoin community.

Coach Jason Archbell also could discipline the 14 players by denying or limiting playing time, Hood said.

Archbell did not return a phone call, but Hood said the players involved in the party have apologized to Archbell and to their teammates.

Foster’s email said members of the lacrosse team “now recognize that these actions were hurtful, and they have decided that the tradition of Cracksgiving has run its course.”

Bowdoin junior Caroline G. Martinez, who wrote an opinion column on racial issues that recently appeared in the Orient, said in an email Wednesday night that not everyone on campus understands that a party such as Cracksgiving “belittles the terrible experiences that different racial minorities have had to go through.”

She said Foster’s email condemning the behavior was a step in the right direction, but added that “we have a lot of work to do at Bowdoin and in the United States when it comes to resolving racial issues.”

“There’s a divide between students who feel in their skin what it’s like to be part of certain racial groups and students who don’t understand why race is an issue because they either haven’t lived it or aren’t willing to question their privilege.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]

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