Although he is all but assured the student government presidency, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) elections probably have not gone the way Dustin Brooks '08 would have hoped. Brooks is the only candidate for the presidency, voting for which ends at 8:30 p.m. today. But his seemingly smooth road to the office was made rocky by sophomore Ian Yaffe's decision last week to contest a requirement in the BSG constitution that presidential candidates have served previously in the student government. Yaffe gained enough petition signatures to have the question put to the student body through online referendum, but too few students participated in the referendum vote for the results to even matter.
As it stands, Brooks, the vice president for student government affairs, will be our next president. The constitution's presidential requirement is supposed to ensure that candidates have experience, and Brooks has it. He has served admirably as vice president of student government affairs and seems genuinely to care about the effectiveness and credibility of student government. Brooks should not let the events of the past week restrict the aggressiveness with which he begins his term in office.
Student governments best serve as advocacy bodies that have the power to make noise when noise is necessary. BSG offers students 26 individuals who choose to assemble for a few hours each Wednesday night and for countless other hours each week for committee meetings and conversations with administrators. They assemble for the sole purpose of making this institution better for the students who go here today and the students who will go here tomorrow. As he begins his tenure, Brooks would be wise to place the more trivial aspects of campus politics in the backseat?and focus attention on policies and programs that will enrich and improve life and work on campus.
On the top of Brooks's agenda for his term of office is academic advising, a worthy issue that certainly deserves BSG's full attention. The Orient used this page last April to urge the College to re-evaluate its current advising system in which some students are assigned enthusiastic advisers while others, left to make difficult decisions with virtually no guidance, seem to fall through the cracks. While we have noted a lack of consistency in the current academic advising system, we have yet to see a strengthening in this area. We trust that if Brooks is to take on this issue, he will see it through.
When BSG convenes in the fall, it will have to tackle the presidential eligibility issue once again, due to the student movement of the past week. While Yaffe's amendment ultimately failed at the polls, his efforts mobilized a substantial effort to re-open an important campus discussion, one that we hope will be re-addressed with Brooks at the helm. That's a healthy debate to have, and BSG should consider whether uncontested elections are worse than relatively inexperienced candidates. But this debate shouldn't take away from Brooks's mandate. Should he keep his focus squarely on important policies that affect students, we suspect that the memories of the rocky road of the past week will be preserved only in the Orient's archives.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Bobby Guerette, Beth Kowitt, Anna Karass, Steve Kolowich, and Anne Riley.