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BSG prepares for a productive year under new constitution

September 28, 2018

Working under a newly updated constitution that prioritizes inclusivity, the general assembly of Bowdoin Student Government (BSG)—which includes both first years and seasoned veterans—kicked into full gear on Wednesday night.

BSG President Mohamed Nur ’19 said that the constitutional amendments, which were passed with the support of 76 percent of student body voters last March, put the BSG in a better position to execute the ideas of its student representatives. The changes altered the constitution for the first time in 10 years.

Important components of the new amendments include an altered structure for BSG and language changes designed to make the document gender-neutral. Several new student representative positions were created, while others were renamed to better reflect their focus. Nur said that the changes were important for the modernization of the BSG.

“Bowdoin in 2007 was a completely different school from Bowdoin in 2017,” he said.

New BSG members were introduced to the committees with which they would be collaborating for the rest of the school year, including the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, which was established by the new constitutional changes.

Chaired by Mamadou Diaw ’20, the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion lists the enhancement of diversity among college programming as one of its long-term goals. According to Diaw, the committee aims to foster bonds among students in the community and establish itself as a support system for cultural and affinity groups on campus.

“We’re here to figure out what’s best for the campus and what we can do best to change it,” he said.

Ensuring support for Bowdoin students prevailed as the primary focus within each committee, ranging from Academic Affairs to Facilities and Sustainability. Chair of the Student Affairs Committee Ben Painter ’19 emphasized the committee’s devotion to student wellbeing and mental health through the campus-wide introduction of the 10% Happier app.

“Meditation has been scientifically proven to help anxiety,” he said. “We want to make sure people know it’s available.”

Ideas for the promotion of the app, large portions of which have been made free to Bowdoin students, included creating a funny video asking students about their opinions on meditation.

One of BSG’s more difficult tasks is managing the Student Activity Fund’s $700,000 budget. The Student Activities Funding Committee—made up of the class treasurers, two at-large representatives, Chair of Student Organizations Jenna Scott ’19 and Chair of the Treasury Harry Sherman ’21—allocates portions of the funds to requesting student clubs based on their discretion.

Sherman said that he wanted the process to be as democratic as possible.

“In the circumstance of a tie, I will always vote yes, because if three of the six voting members think [a club] is worth funding, then it’s most likely worth funding,” he explained. “We really want to cater to interests on campus and allow everyone to do what they want.”

Scott, who is tasked with the chartering of campus clubs, underscored her commitment to the success of student club leaders. This year, she plans to expand the training for club leaders by incorporating trainings designed for other student leaders, including those in the Office of Residential Life and the Office of Gender Violence Prevention.

“We have all these resources available to us,” she said.  “Merging those is going to be a lengthy process.”

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