It is time to hold Bowdoin Student Government accountable.
For too long BSG has seemed like a behind-the-scenes operation due to its poor communication with students save a few irregular spats of mass emails. The campaign seasons at the beginning of the Fall Semester and end of the Spring Semester often bring active campaigning and engagement from both BSG incumbents and hopefuls. But in-between these elections the story is the same: a series of small, low-impact programs often indistinguishable from what many other student organizations are doing.
We would not have a problem with this if BSG candidates?the elected ones?hadn?t indicated that, under their leadership, BSG would be pushing for real changes. The fact that, of 25 relatively specific proposals made last April, only six have been achieved is shameful.
We?d like to say we?re surprised. But we?re not. The fact is that many proposals were patently unrealistic and demanded difficult policy changes from the administration. Others, like a water balloon fight, were downright silly.
BSG?s excuses are not good enough. Some point to weaknesses and ambiguities in its three year-old constitution, and while it may indeed require amendment, students did not elect BSG members to focus an entire semester on fixing BSG.
And on accountability for their campaign promises, for some BSG members, especially VP of Student Affairs Alex Cornell du Houx and VP of Facilities Derrick Wong, the answer that their proposals ?are not the easiest thing to do,? for example, seems to suffice. It seems to us that many of these proposals may have been made in haste as part of an attempt to garner votes, rather than on their feasibility.
What is the purpose of holding yearly elections if BSG amounts to variations on the same theme, that of a barely shifting potpourri of taxi services, free t-shirts, and rides to Colby? We do not deny that such programs are important?but can?t we hold our elected officials accountable for a higher standard of accomplishment, especially when they set such a standard for themselves?
At the heart of such accountability is communication. Communication, in this case, means more than emails to class or house affiliate lists. It means actively encouraging students to attend BSG meetings and correspond with their representatives. But the BSG has a long way to go in letting students know that it actually does meet, let alone that those meetings are open to all students.
The good news is that BSG members seem to realize that communication is a major weakness in their system. The bad news is they also have a poor record of meaning what they say.