In one of its last meetings of the year, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) brainstormed ways to improve the current College House System and, in preparation for the upcoming elections and position changes, discussed the role BSG should assume in order to serve the student body.
One of the primary issues addressed by BSG was the disconnect students feel with their affiliate houses. With changing first-year affiliations and residents, most of whom are sophomores, college houses do not maintain a constant identity. Members said that after being assigned a house for their first year, upperclass students are not encouraged to participate with the house.
To address student interest, At-Large Representative Sophia Seifert '09 suggested that each first-year student choose his or her social house during orientation. By having college houses plan programming ahead of time and advertise for students, first years would build a connection based on preference.
Inter-House Council (IHC) President Alex Lamb '07 said that doing so could present problems with cohesion in the first-year bricks by spreading affiliates across campus. Also, there is a possibility that choosing college houses could create divisions among the first years early on.
Vice President of Student Government Affairs Dustin Brooks '08 suggested that students choose an affiliation at the end of their first year, saying that it "makes the process of choosing more informed."
Other comments included thoughts regarding more ways to connect with upperclass affiliates through meals and events, ways to connect individual college houses to upper-class residences, and involving affiliates with event planning and activities.
Vice President of Student Affairs Steph Witkin '07 said that many upper-class students are turned away by the programming and campus events house members must develop.
BSG President DeRay Mckesson '07 said Residential Life will consider the body's comments, while Lamb noted that Bowdoin is the current model for a college house system that other colleges are watching.
In other business, members reflected on the role of BSG on campus. While most members agreed BSG should serve as a voice for students and a connection to staff and administration, others thought too much time was spent this year on constitutional reform and internal affairs.
"We should be more open. Students don't know who we are, where we meet," said IHC Representative Jacqueline Abrams '08. "BSG should be more concerned with focusing on the student body and less on ourselves."
Members agreed that there should be more publicity about BSG meetings and discussions that involved more students.
Class of 2009 Representative Ben Freedman said that while BSG members may have great ideas, more public comment and fresh perspectives from the student body are necessary.
Nonetheless, Seifert said that the Bowdoin campus trusts BSG, as most of the members were elected by students.
"That's an important thing to keep in mind?we can give our opinions; they do matter," Seifert said. "It's important not to be paralyzed as a body by a certain issue. We were paralyzed by constitutional reform and by our community response committee; everything else stopped."
Brooks said that BSG members are the experts on how the school works, who need to make "on-the-fly decisions" about changes and policies. He would like to see BSG's role as middleman change to get more students actively involved with the Bowdoin administration.
Finally, BSG approved two funding requests: one to purchase more movie tickets to offer students at a discount and another to help fund a visit from one of the contributing lawyers on Bowdoin's revised sexual assault policy.