At Monday night's Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) debate, candidates for officer positions answered a variety of questions about their goals, dedication, and experience. During the debate between the two presidential hopefuls, one thing became clear: Mike Dooley '10 makes the grade in all three categories. In Dooley's candidacy statement, he vows to make BSG a more relevant presence in student life at Bowdoin. This is a goal that Dooley has already accomplished in many respects through his role as vice president for facilities for the last two years.
Dooley has worked to provide important, tangible services to students—extending gym hours, organizing the airport shuttle, providing newspapers in the dining halls, and subsidizing Brunswick Taxi rides, to name a few. These achievements indicate that as a leader of BSG he will continue to create positive, meaningful change in student life. For this reason, we endorse Mike Dooley for BSG President.
At the same time, however, we lament the dearth of candidates running for open positions; with only two students in the presidential race, there are admittedly slim pickings. In the past four years, a total of seven students have campaigned for the position, a dismal average of less than two a year. This is due, in part, to the provision in the BSG constitution that mandates presidential candidates have previous BSG experience.
In both 2006 and 2007, the presidential candidate ran unopposed. Last spring, an Election Reform Commission, formed by BSG, recommended removing the eligibility requirement. The student body voted on a measure to waive the requirement, and while a majority of students were in favor of the amendment, the necessary two-thirds did not support it.
The primary argument behind the eligibility requirement is that BSG is a complicated beast, and experience is crucial to running it effectively. However, in a recent interview with the Orient, current BSG President Sophia Seifert '09 said that while she hoped students would be involved beforehand, she thinks that "student government does not need institutional memory to reside in one person."
First and foremost, the role of BSG President is one that requires strong leadership skills. This is a quality possessed by numerous Bowdoin students—certainly far more than the seven who have run in the past four years. The eligibility of more contestants would help to ensure a more democratic process. We urge students on BSG and across campus to bring this issue back to the forefront.The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Nick Day, Nat Herz, Will Jacob, Mary Helen Miller, and Cati Mitchell.