At an unusually long meeting Wednesday night, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) wrangled over the issues of co-ed housing, sustainability at the College, and a new reincarnation of the Health Center survey.
Conversation over the prospect of co-ed housing commenced with a brief analysis of peer schools' policies on the issue. BSG representatives addressed the systems in place at institutions including Colby, Middlebury, Pomona, Carleton, Harvard, and Stanford.
BSG President Sophia Seifert '09 recognized that there appeared to be no consensus among the schools looked at.
"We have a variety of programs here," she said. "To gage opinion from the body, I would like to ask where we should go with this, as we would like to make a specific policy-oriented recommendation."
One question immediately raised was whether first years should have the option to choose co-ed housing.
Class of 2011 Representative Justin Foster suggested that perhaps locks could be placed on individual doors within quads and triples. "How expensive would it be to add a lock system...so that first-year students could live in co-ed quads?" he asked.
At-Large Representative Rasha' Harvey '12 said that placing locks within first-year quads would be unnecessary and would undermine the College's Social Code.
"In my opinion," he said, "it adds stigma if you have to have locks on doors."
IHC Vice President Dan Hetherman '09 argued that allowing first years of different genders to share rooms would put an unnecessary strain on the Office of Residential Life and the housing system.
"They are cramped for space as it is," he said. "I think it is going a little bit too far, and will create lots of hassle for ResLife with lots of roommate switching."
Class of 2012 Representative Branden Asemah said that in the interest of fairness and equal opportunity, any changes to the housing policy should apply to all students.
"I can see how we might want to have a different policy for first years, given the [hassle it could cause] ResLife," he said. "But I don't think it should be different for first years."
Seifert said that those who "have a strong opinion, about the mechanisms, how it should work and what the policy should be," should contact either her or Vice President for Facilities Mike Dooley '10.
"Personally, I am happy to see that there is so much support for this measure," she said.
After concluding the housing debate, the body commenced a discussion regarding sustainability at Bowdoin.
The discussion was prompted by Vice President for Academic Affairs Sam Dinning '09, who requested that BSG representatives brainstorm topics for Friday's Campus Conversation.
At-Large Representative Mary Connolly '11 said that one problem with the College's sustainability program was a lack of awareness.
"I don't think a lot of Bowdoin students know we have signed a pledge to become carbon neutral," she said. "I think we have made huge strides, but the next step is going to take a lot of student sacrifice."
At-Large Representative Kristen Gunther '09 asserted that some students aren't clear on what sustainability means at Bowdoin.
"A good thing to start out" asking, she said, "would be: 'how do you define sustainability for an individual and for an institution?'"
Connolly said that students need to become better informed on the subject, since "during your college career, you are going to be using a lot of resources."
The newest version of the Health Center survey, a project that has been in development since last semester, was presented by Vice President for Student Affairs Carly Berman '11.
Seifert told the body, "We thought this would be a great time to show it to you and get a second round of feedback."
Most of the feedback turned out to be quite critical. Class of 2011 Representative Greg Tabak was among several BSG members who repeatedly criticized the survey for not including an explicit question about the reputation of the Health Center.
"I think we need to ask a couple questions about reputation," he said. "We should ask questions like, 'Do you think that the Health Center has a good reputation?' That way the administration can know if there is a problem with its reputation."
Seifert said a similar question had been removed in a previous version of the survey.
"This survey has been through the Dean's Office and through the Institutional Research office, and they felt that such a question would be a leading question, meaning that it would bias student responses," she said. "If there are problems, the Dean's Office is relying on the comments section for those problems to come out."
BSG also briefly met in executive session to evaluate the names of this year's Judicial Board applicants.