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September 13, 2019

This piece represents the opinion of the Bowdoin Orient Editorial Board.

Last year, frustrated by unrealistic platforms and uncontested elections for Bowdoin Student Government’s (BSG) executive committee, we published an editorial titled “BSG, do better.” Members of last year’s BSG executive team replied, assuring us that the incoming BSG officers have the opportunity to do just that. Now, we want them to collect on that promise.

During the last BSG election cycle, students heard the same familiar promises candidates made in prior years, including instating a double minor and releasing course syllabi before registration.

BSG President Ural Mishra ’20 promised to “[revise] the Exploring Social Differences (ESD) requirement so it is more reflective of contemporary power structures; [cut] the BSG budget, making money available to student-led clubs through the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) [and work] with Bowdoin Security, the Office of Residential Life and BPD to remedy Bowdoin-Brunswick relations.”

We’ve heard these campaign promises before. We have yet to see them come to fruition. BSG: with the entire academic year ahead of you, you have the opportunity to achieve the goals you laid out in your campaigns.

This special election for Chair of Student Affairs seems to be no different from the general election. All three candidates are running on rehashed platforms, claiming they will expand the array of counseling services by introducing new programs and strengthening existing ones.

One candidate went so far as to promise to introduce a 24-hour counseling resource—a resource which has, in fact, existed since October of 2018.

The availability of Counseling Services is a particularly timely issue. The Orient’s first-year survey this week found that 31 percent of the first-year class has previously sought mental health support and that even more are planning to do so at Bowdoin. Clearly, the College is in need of strong mental health services.

But despite the many promises to expand access to psychological support, the problem persists.

The members of BSG made a number of promises and enumerated their many hopes when they were candidates. Some of these commitments are lofty; others are more attainable. They have from now until the end of the academic year to fulfill them.

Lofty campaign promises are typical in broader political landscapes and are not unique to BSG. But we, as Bowdoin students, should not simply replicate the outside world’s toxic political culture of false promises and low expectations at our own institution. Bowdoin should serve as a training ground for the kind of politics we want to see, not the kind of politics we want to change.

We hope that this Executive Committee will set a new precedent. We hope they will stand by and fulfill their campaign promises. The student body plays a crucial role in that.

One of the issues Mishra hopes to address as BSG President is the student body’s lack of engagement with BSG. Students: engage with our elected officials. Attend their events. The special election for the Chair of Student Affairs position ends tonight at 8 p.m. You can begin to engage by voting.

Hold them accountable for their promises.

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is composed of Emily Cohen, Brianna Cunliffe, Roither Gonzales, Rohini Kurup, Alyce McFadden, Nina McKay, Danielle Quezada, Reuben Schafir and Jaret Skonieczny.


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