L G B T   C a m p u s   O r g a n i z i n g
groups would merely add to   not con 
Bowdoin College
flict with   federally mandated protec 
Interview with Michael Rebic (Class of
tions (covering categories such as race,
 76), Co Coordinator of Bowdoin s Gay
religion, gender, disability, etc.).  They
and Lesbian Alumni/ae Association.
were also able to convince administrators
that adoption of such a policy would not
According to Rebic, members of Bow 
result in numerous lawsuits.
doin s Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae Asso 
ciation sent letters over a period of three
In the end, the school amended its non 
years urging adoption of an anti discrim 
discrimination policy to include "sexual
ination policy to candidates running for
orientation," but compromises had to be
election to Bowdoin s Board of Trustees
made.  In exchange for the policy, propo 
and Overseers.  The letters explained the
nents agreed to an exemption, allowing
need for discrimination protections, and
the CIA, the Department of Defense and
asked whether nominees would support
other discriminatory agencies to recruit
such a measure.  While candidates  initial
on campus.  Furthermore, the administra 
response to these letters were negative,
tion insisted on "playing down" the poli 
the letter writing campaign provided
cy out of fear that it would arouse the ire
activists with important information on
of the State Legislature.
(1) how the administration worked, (2)
who among the trustees was supportive,
According to Buckley, the University of
and (3) what the trustees  concerns and
Iowa administration was willing to
objections were.  Most importantly, the
approve the policy not because it was
GALA campaign eventually inspired a
right but because officials were shown
trustee to ask the President of the College
that it was in their best interest to do so.
to bring the anti discrimination proposal
Advocates tactfully pointed out that if the
to the Executive Committee of the Board.
policy proposal was rejected, gay people
Within a month, the measure was brought
and their allies would be angry and create
before the entire Board of Directors,
controversy that would embarrass the
which approved it without further ques 
school. 
tion.
Proponents also succeeded in obtaining
When the school declined to publicize the
vigorous and vocal backing among non 
new policy, Bowdoin s GALA sent press
gay individuals and groups on campus.
releases to Maine s press announcing its
"Without this support," says Buckley,
approval.  Several months later, a number
"the amendment probably would not
of trustees urged that the policy be
have passed."
repealed, but after debate the measure
was upheld.
Buckley recommends that activists look
for an institution s "soft spots"   includ 
Some of the initial concerns of the Board
ing its own selfish interests   and "work
of Directors during the letter writing
them over."  She also urges that they
campaign were that a non discrimination
maintain confidentiality during negotia 
policy would give the school a negative
tions, as premature publicity can jeopar 
reputation and would violate state law.
dize the negotiating process.
Proponents assured them that many other
schools had passed similar policies, and
1 6 8
M
P r a c t i c a l   A p p l i c a t i o n s






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