Students voting in the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) elections this week will have one easy decision to make: John Connolly '11 for BSG President. While his experience qualifies him for the position, it's unfortunate that Connolly's presidency will be secured merely by a lack of opposition, rather than a show of voter confidence in an atmosphere of competition.
While we have certainly been critical of BSG's internal affairs in the past, we support Connolly's candidacy for BSG and his approach to campus politics. In particular, he proposes to "not touch the constitution" during the fall semester, allowing BSG to focus on issues relevant to us. Connolly's list of initiatives reflects a shift in that direction—from the introduction of online syllabi for course registration to expanded OneCard usage in vending machines to his own personal attendance at Brunswick town meetings—and leaves us with little doubt that he has considered how he might lead BSG to enact concrete change on campus. We wish Connolly the best of luck in executing these plans and others.
The fact remains, however, that instead of voting for our candidate of choice, we are forced to vote for Connolly by default. Rather than engaging with BSG by assessing the platforms of candidates, the process is a game of hit-or-miss. While we may have gotten lucky in this case, Connolly himself laments his lack of competition in his candidacy statement. While it is understandable—and by now, perhaps even expected—that some election years will be less energetic than others, it's about time BSG works to rally student interest.
The BSG constitution stipulates that eligible candidates for presidency must have previous experience on BSG. As a result, presidential candidates ran unopposed in the 2006 and 2007 elections, despite a campus-wide referendum in April of 2007 that would allow any interested student to campaign. Unfortunately, although a majority of students who voted were in favor of the change, the referendum failed due to low voter turnout.
The greater the competition, the greater the motivation will be for students to vote with intention, and the greater the odds the person elected will be the right one for the job. We do not believe that BSG inexperience would be a debilitating fault for a president—in some cases it would be useful. If students with previous experience are jaded by internal politics and a lack of action, why not invite other ambitious, eager campus leaders to the challenge?
While we may have no other choice, we do endorse Connolly, and we do support his proposed style of leadership. As we've called for in the past, BSG needs to focus on issues of student life, support student initiatives, and serve as a true liaison to College officials. If Connolly stays true to his ambitions, he can restore BSG's credibility on campus. If BSG works for the students, the students will want to work for BSG, campaigning for positions and restoring competition in these elections.
The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which comprises Piper Grosswendt, Will Jacob, Gemma Leghorn and Seth Walder.