Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) voted on a number of constitutional amendments this week. Some were rightly passed, but overall BSG missed several opportunities to create meaningful and effective reforms so that it can better represent the interests of the entire student body.
We commend BSG for passing an amendment that will ensure that all elections are held in the spring, other than first-year elections. This will allow for the campus to focus on voting for student government as a whole, rather than putting pieces of it together at different times of the year. Fall elections force BSG to start rather late every year?and now they will be able to hit the ground running.
The body missed an outstanding opportunity for reform, however, in failing to gain enough support for an amendment that would reduce the amount of social house representation on BSG from seven members to two. Since it is simply unrealistic to expect that social houses actually represent all of their non-resident affiliates, we see no reason why they should have so many representatives. Some social house representatives are voted in merely by members living in the houses, and not by all of the house affiliates. Since the houses play a central role in the campus's social life scene, they do deserve a voice on BSG, but certainly not more than a quarter of it like they do now. Even the president of the Inter-House Council voted in favor of the amendment.
Another crucial reform BSG must make is to create a separate body of students to interpret the BSG constitution. This body would be independent and politically impartial in regards to BSG work, and would be called upon to settle disagreements about constitutional interpretations. When the elections debacle emerged early this semester regarding junior DeRay Mckesson's candidacy, the BSG vice presidents decided the outcome, and reached a conclusion with which this page strongly disagreed. An independent, politically impartial body would have done a far better job. In order to prevent future wrangles, such a body should be created as soon as possible.
Lastly, the vote to simply eliminate regular students' opportunity to present proposals before the BSG was disappointing, despite its not being used in the past. This is a step backward from any efforts to increasingly include the student body in the BSG process.
Sadly, an excessively large obstacle was set in the way of BSG reform just a few years ago when it was decided that amendments would need 21 votes in order to pass the body, regardless of whether the 26 members are in full attendance?which is rare. While amendments require a two thirds vote by the student body in addition to BSG passage in order to achieve complete approval, we fail to see why such a high barrier should exist that could empower just a handful of students with the ability to block essential BSG reform.
These reforms would create a far more democratic body.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board. The editorial board consists of the editors-in-chief and the managing editor.