Instead of working to improve student life, this week, the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) spent another meeting deliberating over the finer points of its own internal affairs and policies. Following up on an incident that happened nine weeks ago, the organization waffled over the possibility of allowing class council and BSG candidates to campaign on the Student Digest. This far into the semester, it's a shame that BSG hasn't moved on to tackling issues that affect a greater share of the student body.
In years past, BSG has spent a considerable amount of time reforming its constitution and election rules to increase transparency and allow for consistent action from year to year. It is our understanding, however, that BSG went through these processes in order to pave the way for more significant student issues. Now that it has spent a few years "clarifying language," it's time to move on. Given its status as a student government—intended to be a voice of the student body—BSG can reach the ears of those with the ability to create change. On top of that, BSG has the ability to enact change on its own, change far greater than "constitutional reform."
Two years ago, BSG worked to change the College's Credit/D/Fail grading policy, though their committee proposal ultimately failed when put to a faculty vote. Members on BSG also worked with the College on a student bill of rights for a while, though ultimately to no avail. Why not revisit these topics to see where formal proposals went wrong, and work with administrators to move forward?
Or, better yet, why not identify other progressive measures BSG can work toward enacting? Instead of giving reasons why a goal cannot be reached, BSG members should take hold of an issue and run with it; they may be surprised by how far their influence can reach.
While our criticisms of BSG are directed to the body itself, we also realize their efforts depend on collaboration with the student body and College officials. For students to take BSG seriously, BSG must have the motivation and authority of influence to actually bring about change at the College. If the College administration is to take BSG seriously, BSG must have the support and trust of the student body. Ultimately, then, a large portion of the burden falls on the rest of us to make demands and get involved with our student government. We hear each other and ourselves complaining all the time, yet how often do we actually inform the BSG of our grievances?
Currently, the Orient is the only consistent non-BSG attendee at BSG meetings. While the Orient coverage provides a weekly snapshot of these meetings, the paper cannot cover every detail, nor can it voice an opinion. That's where we, as students, come in. In the same vein, keeping students up to date so that they can voice their opinions in a timely fashion is the responsibility of the BSG, and the most effective way to do this seems to be by reviewing and publishing minutes immediately following each Wednesday's meeting.
We believe BSG has a strong purpose on this campus, but is capable of achieving a more relevant presence in student life. We encourage the body to get the ball rolling on substantive action now, and discuss the successes and failures of its work after it's begun.