At its first meeting of the semester on Wednesday, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) discussed revising its constitution and improving student counseling resources.
BSG hopes to pass a new constitution before spring break, which would require one third of the student body to vote on the constitution and two thirds of those votes to be in favor.
“Our goal coming in to this year was to look at the constitution more as an evolving document that reflects what has been going on around campus over the years and around the world and to update it accordingly,” BSG President Irfan Alam said.
He noted that the current BSG constitution hasn’t changed substantially in the past 10 years. Proposed changes to the constitution include altering the executive team positions to better reflect the type of work the assembly actually does, tying the class councils more directly to the assembly and revising the way that committees are structured and selected.
This year, BSG has used liaisons—non-voting members who work in partnership with the school administration, to stay connected with other parts of the College. Alam said that BSG is considering which of these liaisons have been most effective and will codify their positions in the new constitution.
BSG also was joined by Director of Counseling Services and Wellness Programs Bernie Hershberger to discuss promoting counseling on campus. Several BSG members attended a student government conference last fall, where student mental health was a major topic of conversation.
“What our conversations centered around at that conference were a lot about being proactive about mental health issues and not waiting until something tragic happens on a campus,” Alam said. “We want to set the tone by bringing in counseling and seeing the type of work that we can do: maybe a student intern, maybe increasing transparency, more advertising and marketing so students are aware of the type of resources that Counseling [Services] can provide.”
Currently, about 25 percent of the student body uses Counseling Services. Hershberger emphasized that students can come to counseling to talk about anything—such as relationships and family—not just diagnosed mental illness, and that counseling is separate from the deans and administration.
BSG members discussed a need for better awareness around mental health, arguing that many students feel there can be an aura of mystery around counseling. Hershberger also discussed the importance of building a wider culture of mental health at Bowdoin, including thinking more about sleep, free time and stress management.
Several upcoming initiatives and events from Counseling Services include acupuncture, a conversation on mindfulness in relationships, a panel discussion on anxiety and depression and an eco-psychology initiative with the Outing Club.
The meeting also addressed potential renovations to the Game Room in David Saul Smith Union and ideas for improving pre-major advising.