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Potholm’s ‘Women Warrior’ Class Underway as Pentagon Announces All Combat Jobs Open to Women (New York Times)

Sage Santangelo '12 at the U.S. Marines commissioning ceremony following Commencement May 26, 2012

Sage Santangelo ’12 at the U.S. Marines commissioning ceremony following Commencement May 26, 2012

Christian Potholm, Bowdoin’s DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government, is teaching a new course this semester on women warriors through the ages, from warrior queens in the 3rd century to female soldiers enlisted in the U.S. military today.

His class is particularly timely as the Pentagon announced yesterday it will open up all combat positions to women.“There will be no exceptions,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carterat said Thursday, the New York Times reported.

“They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

Women Warriors: An Interview with Christian Potholm from Bowdoin College on Vimeo.

Potholm’s course also touches on the roles that two Bowdoin graduates played in the national debate over this issue.  Sage Santangelo ’12, a Marine Corps officer, has argued, most notably in aWashington Post opinion piece last year, that women can achieve the same combat-fitness levels as men. Conversely, Captain Katie Petronio ’07 of the U.S. Marine Corps was in the headlines three years ago when, after frontline service in Afghanistan and Iraq, she came to the conclusion that women are less physically capable of enduring sustained combat operations.

Barry Mills: Setting the Record Straight


Bowdoin President Barry Mills responds to a report about Bowdoin by the National Association of Scholars.

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Call to Duty: The Commissioning of Sage Santangelo ’12


On this Memorial Day honoring those who died in service to their country, it seems fitting that we recognize those who step up to answer that same call of duty. People like Sage Santangelo ’12, the most recent Bowdoin graduate to enter the U.S. Marine Corps.

Commencement is a day of endings and beginnings for all who walk back down the Museum steps with a diploma in hand, but the next chapter in Santangelo’s life began almost immediately after that with a commissioning ceremony across the Quad.

With family, friends and President Mills in attendance outside the Chapel, Santangelo, a government and legal studies major and biology minor from Fort Collins, Colo., entered the Marines at the rank of Second Lieutenant.

“The Marines provide me an opportunity to really challenge every single part of myself,” says Santangelo, who will go home for the summer before reporting to Quantico for basic officer training in the fall. “I wanted to pursue something that wasn’t necessarily sitting at a desk and this gives me a great opportunity to work as a leader at a young age.”