In an especially unusual year in the College’s history, Bowdoin students have had a lot to say. Our representatives to the administration, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), can fill a crucial role in communicating the needs of students in this unprecedented situation and leading us on the road to, hopefully, a more normal college experience. BSG is currently holding elections and, historically, the student body has not engaged well with the voting process.
In past years, voting turnout for BSG elections has been disappointing. Numbers have been steadily decreasing for the past several years, from 1234 votes cast in 2017, to 1075 in 2018 to under 1000 in 2019 and 2020. Additionally, in the 2019 Class Council elections, only 17 percent of Bowdoin seniors voted. In 2020, several positions were uncontested, and several more were unfilled.
This trend cannot continue. In the wake of countless instances of racial injustice and a global pandemic, the student body is overflowing with concerns, opinions and ideas. This year has been fraught with difficult moments for the community. It is in these moments that BSG has the potential to make an impact on student culture and mend campus-wide divides over the many contentious and traumatic issues we have faced.
Although a few candidates are running unopposed, the student body has an opportunity to vote for a group of student leaders who will advocate for its needs and best interests. We understand that it is difficult to overcome the barrier of administrative power and create institutional change; we are simply asking future BSG representatives to communicate with us as fellow students who have struggled for the past 14 months and take our needs into consideration with open minds and actively pursue them.
In addition to checking the boxes at election time, we encourage you not only to vote but also to engage yourself in the process:, watch the debates, and interact with the candidates and their proposals in an active manner. Research each candidate, and, if you feel comfortable doing so, pose your questions and concerns for the future directly to them. The elected BSG officials will speak for the student body this upcoming academic year and potentially make changes that last years to come, thus giving all of us representation on the campus and within the administration.
As these positions are voted upon and elected yearly, we also encourage you to run next year if you feel so inclined. One of the best ways to verbalize your thoughts and opinions, as well as to connect with other passionate individuals, is to engage in the democratic process. So, whether you run for an elected position or simply vote, your participation matters this year and every year.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Editorial Board, which is comprised of Sofie Brown, Tucker Ellis, Katie King, Kate Lusignan, Nina McKay, Emily Staten and Ayub Tahlil.