A constitution is meant to be a body of fundamental principles that guides how an organization is to be governed. In other words, an organization should regularly remind itself of its vested interests and purpose derived from its constitution. Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) would be wise to remind itself of why it exists and who it serves.

According to the BSG constitution’s preamble, BSG seeks to be “a relentless advocate for student needs and desires…[and] aims to serve as a thoughtful and fearless voice for conveying student opinion to the campus and beyond.”

I admire these words, but I worry that presently BSG risks divorcing its actions (or lack thereof) from its stated purpose.

Last Wednesday, At-Large Representative Kiki Nakamura-Koyama ’17 and Vice President for Student Government Affairs Charlotte McLaughry ’15 put forth a proposal to BSG to adopt a representative from the Student Center for Multicultural Life. After a brief discussion of the proposal, BSG President Chris Breen ’15 explained that a vote requires multiple meetings and that the proposal would need to be pushed off until next year. 

I do not doubt the veracity of the procedural rules invoked by Breen to delay the vote, but I do worry that the comments made by him and several other BSG members during the meeting reflect BSG’s growing detachment from the student body.

One sentiment expressed by several BSG members was what specific role the multicultural representative would play. To understand the function of such a representative, BSG only needs to look at its own track record to see its dismal handling of multicultural issues.

Why, for example, did BSG remain silent when Ferguson, Mo. and New York City protests swept the nation and Bowdoin campus? At a time when President Mills and Associate Dean of Multicultural Student Programs Leana Amaez explicitly addressed these events and sought to acknowledge the emotional impact they may have had on students, what was BSG doing?

There are other examples as well—the failure of BSG to address the issues at the Meeting in the Union on race, class, gender, sexuality, and climate change, as well as the BSG’s lack of response to the open letter to the community.

What was BSG—a self-proclaimed “relentless advocate” and “fearless voice” for students—doing when many of its constituents had expressed dissatisfaction with their Bowdoin experiences? 

While the BSG constitution states that “the proceedings of meeting and meeting minutes [are] to be made public,” as of publication BSG has neglected to provide any meeting minutes online for the 2014-2015 school year. How can the constituents of BSG hold its elected officials accountable to its constitutionally derived functions when their actions are not for public record?

Another sentiment expressed by several BSG members was how the multicultural representative might be held accountable for her or his attendance. In the past, they noted, special interest representatives from the Department of Athletics and the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good have had poor attendance records.

Perhaps BSG would be wise to engage directly with the current special interest representatives responsible for their poor attendance records. Why prematurely fault the multicultural representative for the actions of other special interest representatives?

A final concern expressed by several BSG members was how one multicultural representative could represent individuals of various races, sexualities, religions, and genders. I think this inquiry is valid and merits further discussion. 

Unfortunately, when I sent out an email last Wednesday to the BSG executive committee members, class representatives, and At-Large representatives offering to engage in further dialogue about these issues, I was dismayed to see only two of the over 22 currently serving officials respond. After initially expressing interest in talking with me, one BSG member changed his mind and the other member did not respond to my follow-up to meet. (A week after no current BSG members had met with me, an incoming BSG member who was clued in on my request offered to talk. Since then, three BSG members have been in contact with me).

As the school year comes to a close, I hope BSG will take a moment to reflect on why it exists and who it serves. I hope BSG members—especially those serving next year—will take the time to reread the constitution and better understand how they can better serve the students who elected them.

 Paul Ngu is a member of the Class of 2017.