And they're off! Several students kicked off the race for Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) positions with a debate at Jack Magee's Pub on Monday night.
With contested spots in Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and Vice President of Facilities, the candidates answered questions about accountability, responsiveness and communication.
Approximately three non-BSG members were in attendance.
Running for Vice President for Academic Affairs are Jordan Francke '13 and Hung Tran '13. In their opening statements both candidates offered ideas to improve Bowdoin academics.
"I want to address the potential for peer advising for freshmen and I would like to move forward with an honors symposium," said Francke.
"I would like to make the Credit/D/Fail policy switchable and the deadline longer," said Tran.
Faced with the question of Bowdoin's greatest academic weakness and possible solutions to change that weakness, the candidates spoke of student-professor relationships and intellectual debate.
"I feel like there needs to be more interaction between professors and students in school," said Tran. "I would create some kind of activities that we can make the professors and the students meet more frequently about academic things."
"I think one of the biggest weaknesses is the lack of intellectual discussion on campus. I think speaking about intellectual topics can be taboo," said Francke. "I think a symposium would be a great point to start...People at Bowdoin do amazing things but they don't have a venue to talk to people about what they do."
The two candidates for Vice President of Student Affairs, Tessa Kramer '13 and Chanwoong Baek '12, faced scrutiny over the lack of participation from the student body as well as the lack of responsiveness of BSG to student needs.
Moderators Seth Walder '11 and Kata Solow '10 asked candidates to address the allegedly typical critique that BSG is not doing much for students.
"One thing that I was thinking is something that could be a good thing for students would be a 'Life 101' course which would teach students skills that will help them in their life beyond Bowdoin," said Kramer, who also mentioned her plans to use the Quad for student art shows and barbeques.
"I would like to publish a compiled know-how book with information about classes, resources, and fun party tips but the important part is I would like to gather real students with real ideas," said Baek. "I would also like to improve the Orientation schedule."
Kramer and Baek were also asked to pose theories explaining the high number of alcohol transports this year and ways to prevent the number from rising.
"I think in large part it's just a coincidence. I don't think there is something different about the Class of 2013 that makes the numbers so high," said Kramer. "I think there is a 'work hard, play hard' mentality. Typical social house parties don't offer much besides loud music, dirty basements and cheap alcohol, so it's unsurprising that students have looked for a quicker way to drink."
"I would like to see an effort by BSG to work with social houses to provide 'low-chem' events," Kramer continued.
"I think one of the main reasons Bowdoin has had a lot of transports was because there is a kind of Bowdoin student atmosphere that we cannot have fun without alcohol," said Baek. "I think the main reason is that chem-free events are not cool, so when you are not drinking most people think we are not having fun. I want people to understand you don't have to drink to have fun."
While Isa Abney '11, one of the two candidates running for Vice President of Facilities could not be present at the debate, his opponent Peng Luoquian was on hand to answer questions regarding the allegedly faulty Bowdoin Shuttle.
"The main problem with the current shuttle system is that, first of all, the airport shuttle is a little expensive. The reason it's so expensive is because monopoly," said Luoquian. "I'm going to bring in some other taxi services to compete with the shuttle. Second, there are cinemas around Cooks Corner but no shuttle going there."
The final remarks of the debate came from John Connolly '11, who is running uncontested for President of BSG. In his statement he insisted on improving the responsiveness of BSG and emphasized the importance of consistency during his administration next year.
"I have many ideas for improving student life. I think we should have an online syllabus system so we can get a real sense of what we will be learning. I think all the vending machines should accept OneCards. I will attend Brunswick town meetings so that students know what to expect from the town. I will be open to any and all suggestions next year. I may not be able to win legitimacy through election, but I will earn it through action," said Connolly.
When asked about his proposal to involve more students in BSG decisions, Connolly had confidence that his plan would improve student interest.
"I think a primary reason why students don't care is because they see [BSG] as an institution all focused on itself, like it's a club for students who are BSG. During the first semester next year we're not going to touch the constitution or the bi-laws because we need to do things that students care about," said Connolly. "I'm open to trying anything to reengage the student body."