With a number of its members busy rehearsing for "The Vagina Monologues," a depleted Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) discussed a potential campus speaker, the College's Credit/D/Fail grading option, and subsidized movie tickets on Wednesday evening.
More than one-third of the assembly was absent from the meeting, including BSG President Sophia Seifert '09. Vice President for BSG Affairs John Connolly '11 took up the role of Acting President, declaring that the meeting would be devoted solely to discussion. He invoked the BSG constitution as the reason behind this, explaining that the constitution prohibits the holding of votes if two-thirds of the government's membership is not present.
Ross Jacobs '10 began the discussion during public comment time, with a bid to garner BSG backing to bring author and social critic Camille Paglia to campus.
"She is one of the most controversial thinkers who is writing right now, and I am coming to you guys to see how we can make this happen," Jacobs said. "She is one of the biggest, most popular intellectuals in the country."
BSG Treasurer Ugo Egbunike '09 explained that if the College decided to host "a speaker like this, it would be a good idea to have the BSG stamp of approval."
Jacobs said that if a base amount of funding is secured from a source such as BSG, then the English, Gender and Women's Studies, and History departments might also contribute money toward Paglia.
"I am really interested in making this happen," he said. "She is one of the few thinkers who has found a way of reconciling academic seriousness with sexual liberation."
Jacobs added that if an agreement is reached, Paglia would likely speak on a Friday evening in April, possibly even during Ivies weekend.
"She is insane enough that she might be a great attraction at Ivies," he said. "She sees herself as some sort of Dionysian character; she certainly wouldn't protest the Ivies atmosphere."
Class of 2010 Representative Rutledge Long was highly receptive of this idea.
"Give her a microphone and a loud speaker, and let her just rant," he said.
When asked how much it would cost to bring Paglia to the school, Jacobs said she asked "that we make her an offer resembling what we've given similar people."
Although most BSG members appeared receptive to the idea of Paglia coming to campus to give a lecture, negotiations stalled over how much money would be appropriate to offer.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Sam Dinning '09 said that although the body was behind the idea, it would be necessary to know who besides BSG would foot the bill.
"Before we do that, it is premature to talk about any precise numbers," he said.
Dinning also solicited opinions regarding the College's Credit Credit/D/Fail policy. Topics included whether the D portion of Credit/D/Fail policy should even exist, and whether professors should know which students in a class have chosen the Credit/D/Fail option.
Long said the faculty just needed to come to terms with the Credit/D/Fail policy, and that professors should be barred from knowing which grading policy their students select.
"We know that affects the relationship between the professor and the student, so they really should not know," he said.
To this, Dinning replied, "To play devil's advocate here, the main argument against Credit/D/Fail is that for classes that depend on group work, it is really tough when one person is slacking off."
At-Large Representative Nyle Usmani '12 said that there was still no solid argument for giving professors that information.
"Even if students do slack off, I can't see any benefits to professors knowing," he said.
In other business, Vice President for Facilities Mike Dooley '10 announced that the fund that provides Bowdoin students with subsidized movie tickets was dry.
He proposed that BSG should adjust its policy in order to break even on each ticket, rather than continue to abide by the current policy which incurs a two dollar loss on each ticket sold.
This suggestion embroiled the assembly until Connolly restored order by pointing out extra money existing in other funds.
"I think we should just do a BSG stimulus package, and continue to subsidize tickets for students," he said.