For the first time in over a decade, major changes have been made to the structure of Bowdoin Student Government (BSG). Nineteen liaison positions were created to work with various administrative departments and offices including Safety and Security, Dining Service and Religious and Spiritual Life in addition. The at-large representative position has been elevated to a director position.
Last year, BSG took part in and hosted the newly established NESGOV conference, an assembly of student governments from NESCAC schools who gathered to discuss issues facing their own governments and campuses. After that and discussions with various student leaders, the BSG executive team decided that its own structure had become antiquated.
“Over the past decade, Bowdoin has changed tremendously, in campus life, demographics of students, where students come from, who we represent as a community, community ties with the campus,” said BSG President Irfan Alam ’18.
“Having talked to past BSG presidents, they’ve said that what they experienced in the BSG is so different from what we’re experiencing now that we not only need to make improvements, but also need to think about how we can adapt.”
After learning about other school’s student governments and realizing the drawbacks of BSG’s at-large reps, the executive team decided to elevate the at-large position to a director position.
“What that means is that its constitutionally the same thing, but now they’re leading their own committee of non-voting members called liaisons,” said Alam.
Each liaison is assigned to specific member of the administration which is intended to establish a way for BSG to communicate with its respective administrators. This new structure provides a more organized mechanism for BSG to follow through on ideas and upcoming plans, according to Alam.
“Last year, what would happen is that would we would just ask ‘Who wants to participate in this?’” he said. “Now we’ve decided that we will vote that we want to do this, then that liaison group, led by [a] director, will be in charge of executing that plan.”
Work surrounding the BSG restructuring began as early as last year. Alam and Painter, vice president for BSG affairs—both of whom were also on BSG last year—discussed the possibility of restructuring BSG with last year’s executive team. Most of the brainstorming, creation and discussion happened over the summer, during which Alam spoke with division heads about the new BSG model.
The new structure has created more leadership positions for students and more opportunities for students who haven’t previously been a part of BSG. Moreover, it will facilitate better coverage and greater communication between administrators, director and liaison groups.
“The BSG is taking on a new structure that’s hopefully more efficient,” said Salim Salim ’20, vice president for BSG student affairs. “Obviously, we won’t get to know that until the end of this year … but I am very, very excited to try out this new structure.”
Alam echoed Salim’s sentiment of the need for structural change.
“All the changes that we’ve created have been within the constitution, but what we’re hoping to do is to constitutionally change our structure,” said Alam.
“So throughout this year we’re going to continue to evaluate how this model works, to create a community to determine how we want to complete the model … and then hopefully at the end have people vote to formally change the constitution and change the structure.”