Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) hopefuls met for a debate in Jack McGee’s Pub on Tuesday night.
The debate was moderated by BSG Assembly member Madison Whitley ’13 and Orient Editor-in-Chief Linda Kinstler ’13. Each candidate was given two minutes for an introduction, and then candidates running in contested races were given two minutes to respond to questions from the moderators, followed by one-minute closing arguments.
The first debate was between Ryan Davis ’15 and Megan Massa ’14, vying for the title of Vice President for the treasury.
Both candidates were primarily asked about what changes they would make to the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC), which the Vice President for the Treasury also chairs.
Massa voiced her desire to “clarify, publicize, and normalize” the process by which the SAFC distributes funds to clubs and organizations. Meanwhile, Davis made the point that greater communication between the SAFC and club leaders was necessary.
The next debate featured Danny Mejia-Cruz ’16 and Julian Tamayo ’16, both running for the position of Vice President for Student Organizations.
The VP for student organizations is also in charge of the Student Organizations Oversight Committee (SOOC), so questions centered on how the candidates would work with student-run groups on campus.
Mejia-Cruz emphasized his leadership experience and promised that if elected, he would work to create a leadership development series for club leaders to help “introduce them to new resources.”
Meanwhile, Tamayo drew attention to the new provisionary chartering system he has been developing as an At-Large Representative to the BSG. Such a system would help student organizations understand how the SOOC and SAFC work before submitting a budget.
When asked why they might deny a student group a charter, both candidates agreed that they would be unable to charter groups whose financial or logistical needs were not feasible. Mejia-Cruz added that he would not charter a group whose mission was shared by an already-existing group, or one that “did nothing to add to the intellectual fabric” of Bowdoin.
Next, two students running uncontested for their positions were each given two minutes to present their platforms.
David Levine ’16, running for Vice President of Facilities and Sustainability, cited his experience serving as an At-Large Representative to the BSG. He also detailed several ideas he planned to pursue, such as placing Adirondack chairs on the quad and adding weekend hours to the OneCard office.
Jordan Goldberg ’14, running for Vice President for Academic Affairs, also detailed his past experience on the BSG Academic Affairs Committee. He emphasized plans to “clean up the inconsistencies of distribution requirements” and promised to continue working on a proposal to change the College’s Credit/D/Fail policy.
Next up was Cole Duncan ’14 and Robo Tavel ’16, both vying for the position of Vice President for Student Affairs.
Duncan declared that his top priority for the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) would be to make “positive and lasting changes.” He voiced a desire to create more contact between first-year and upperclassmen during orientation, and pledged to dispel the mystery currently surrounding the College House admissions process.
Tavel cited his “efforts to implement creative new ideas” as the President of the Class of 2016, and emphasized his plans to improve programming and to increase coordination between the class councils and the SAC.
Both candidates were asked about their stances on the College’s hazing policy and whether BSG should criticize it. Tavel stated that the hazing policy hadn’t been properly communicated and voiced a desire for greater dialogue between students and administrators. Duncan, on the other hand, took issue with the fact that student voices weren’t being considered seriously, and endorsed giving students opportunities to defend themselves.
After a short intermission, the debate reconvened with Allen Wong Yu ’14 and Michael Colbert ’16, both running for the position of Vice President for Student Government Affairs.
Yu characterized the BSG’s main problem as a lack of innovation, saying that “committees tend to do what has already been done.” To combat this, he voiced plans to reach out more to the Brunswick community and to utilize social media to a greater degree.
Colbert declared plans to increase the diversity of the BSG, citing the fact that almost all votes had been unanimous. He pledged to involve more multicultural voices as well as a representative from the McKeen Center. Colbert also emphasized the importance of being personally available to students by tabling in Smith Union.
The final debate, for the position of BSG President, was the longest—moderators asked seven questions rather than the usual three. The candidates were Sarah Nelson ’14 and Neli Vazquez ’14.
The pair were asked questions on several pertinent issues the College faces, including the BSG’s stance on marriage equality, divestment, hazing, and the new chem-free floating floor model.
The candidates were asked how they would deal with faculty bureaucracy, especially regarding last semester’s Thanksgiving break protests.
Nelson emphasized the importance of being reasonable when dealing with faculty, pointing out that they are “quick to dismiss” students who are not well thought-out.
Vazquez suggested a “two-way street,” in which both students and faculty are aware of the others’ needs and requests. She planned to continue pushing for Thanksgiving break reform in the year to come.
In their closing statements, both candidates reiterated their previous experience and expressed their passion for serving the Bowdoin student body.
“Bowdoin encourages us to become confident, vocal leaders, empowering other students,” said Nelson.
The event enjoyed a fairly high turnout relative to previous years, and spectators felt that their attendance was valuable.
“I think it’s important to hear which candidate speaks the best. That always influences me,” said Emily Talbot ’16.
Tina Davis ’16 agreed. “It’s nice to know what each candidate represents and what’s on their platform.”
Talbot also enjoyed the opportunity to see “how [the candidates] handle conflict and being contested by others.”
Voting is open from 8 a.m. today until Sunday 8 p.m at bowdoin.edu/vote.