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BSG holds constitutional referendum remotely

April 17, 2020

Photo courtesy of Bowdoin Student Government
Your vote counts: Students will vote to amend the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) constitution this weekend. The amendment largely focuses on including more elected members and less appointed members to the BSG assembly.

Due to the College’s transition to remote learning, students will virtually vote on the referendum to the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) constitution between April 17 and April 19. The changes to the constitution fall under two categories: restructuring BSG’s assembly and clarifying the language in its constitution.

This is the second BSG referendum to occur within the past 14 years. In 2018, under the leadership of former BSG President Irfan Alam ’18, the student government changed the verbiage of the outdated constitution and included a stipulation that a constitutional referendum must be held biennially. Since two years have passed, this is the first time this provision has been enacted.

In an email sent to students last Saturday, BSG President Ural Mishra ’20 outlined the proposed changes, which the assembly began formulating in January. Mishra wrote in the email that BSG will have fewer appointed positions and more elected BSG members “to better represent student priorities.”

“[There is] not enough elected representation on the assembly,” said Mishra in a phone interview with the Orient. “More than half are selected by Executives, and that didn’t seem like the correct way to have a body representative of students.”

In order to give each class year “more of a voice,” BSG will remove the appointed Safety and Security, NESGov, Faculty Development and Development representatives, and will replace them with the four elected Class Council Vice-Presidents.

Along with stipulating that the representatives of the Curriculum Implementation Committee and Curriculum and Educational Policy will only sit on the academic affairs sub-committee and not on the assembly, the referendum also proposes the addition of an Information Technology (IT) representative who would work with IT’s Chief Information Officer Michael Cato. After having conversations with Lisa Peterson, associate director of gender violence prevention and education, BSG also has proposed collaboration between the Sexuality, Women and Gender representative and the Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Education.

For any changes to be made to the constitution, a four-fifths majority of the BSG assembly is required, one-third of the student body must participate in the referendum for the vote to remain legitimate and two-thirds of the student body must vote “yes.”

Given the complications surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mishra foresees a lower turnout but hopes to meet the quorum of one-third of student participation.

“People are excited to vote for executive council elections, but it’s hard to see the impact of a BSG constitutional referendum because it’s more structural,” Mishra said.

The BSG assembly voted unanimously to move forward on the proposed changes, leaving the decision up to student referendum.

Student voting will be held at the same time as BSG Executive Council elections between April 17 and April 19.


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