When I decided to run for a chair position on Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), I did so trusting our representatives on BSG to be fair, to follow all the laws of the student constitution and to maintain the highest moral standards. Along with Fanta Traore, I took extreme care to verify the legality of all our campaign practices. We consulted BSG President Irfan Alam regarding our ability to table and made sure we did not violate any email campaign policies outlined by BSG. Every campaign strategy we undertook was approved by him and legally practiced by previous and current campaigners in BSG elections.
So you can imagine how surprised Fanta and I were when a current BSG executive member came to our table and attempted to rudely rip off our poster without speaking one word to us. I repeatedly informed them that I had permission to table as granted by Irfan Alam and the BSG bylaws.
What did another BSG executive do when they saw the other member inappropriately attempt to stop us from tabling and rip off our poster? They did nothing at all. Irfan Alam, the very person who had allowed us to table, simply apologized for this attempt to hinder our campaign and said that the very BSG member who stood by and watched our poster be ripped was acting president since Irfan was away. My right to table was being contested by the very people who should know the campaign policies. Instead of upholding the law, the BSG executives took no accountability for the inappropriate behavior and inexcusable attempt to disrupt my legal campaign process.
Then, on a fateful Sunday afternoon, a mere three hours prior to the release of election results, Fanta and I received a notice from the Election Commission about a hearing in one hour for a possible violation. At the hearing, which included the two executives who had targeted us, Fanta and I were accused of sending out mass emails. We provided the Election Commission evidence from the bylaws showing the legality of our actions, proof of approval from Alam and even the emails of the very candidates in this election and previous elections who had done the exact same thing as us. We showed them clear evidence that we had sent out individual emails and that Irfan had approved all of our practices. He even acknowledged it at the hearing.
I then brought into question the point of the hearing. It was clear that we had not broken any election laws. I wondered: why were only we brought into a hearing for our legally accepted email practice when no one else who did the same was? I made sure to inform the Election Commission about the intolerable behavior of the Executive Team towards Fanta and me throughout the campaign. Although it was decided that we had not committed a violation based on precedent of our practices in previous campaigns, a re-election was held. What is surprising is that, despite not having violated any laws, our candidacy was still being targeted.
Regardless, it was clear to me that the hearing was a blatant attempt by certain members of the BSG executive team to abuse their power and disqualify us. By their actions, those certain members failed to follow the very constitution that they were elected to uphold. They tainted the trust and reputation of BSG by targeting us.
This past Wednesday, I decided to impeach those two members not only to bring attention to what happened during the past few weeks, but also to encourage you to see that there wasn’t any accountability for their intolerable behaviors.
The BSG executive team members remained complicit by halting the impeachment proceedings simply due to the fact that all of them were stepping down. The BSG Assembly in turn decided that there would be no more meetings and no accountability would be taken for the inappropriate behavior of the two members of the BSG executive team. The impeachment process was meant to ensure that those two BSG executive team members would be held accountable for their inappropriate behaviors, regardless of their stepping down. Their decision to halt the impeachment process perpetuates their hidden corruption, and only proves that they are unwilling to be transparent and fair with the student body.
To future members of BSG: the more you allow abuses of power, the less your constituents will trust you. I will continue to push for the transparency of BSG and be an unsettling voice against those who breed its culture of dishonesty amongst the student body.
I hope you, the student body, do the same.
Aneka Kazlyna is a member of the Class of 2020.