Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) held elections for its executive council this past weekend. Shortly after the polls closed on Sunday evening, the winners were announced, with Paul Wang ’24 elected as BSG President for the 2023–24 academic year.
849 total votes were cast for president. Wang, the current Office of Residential Life (ResLife)-appointed BSG representative, received 506 votes (59.6 percent). His closest rival, current BSG Vice President Francisco Adame-Perez ’24, received 302 votes (35.6 percent). The other candidate in the election, current Chair of Academic Affairs Jacob Horigan ’24, received 41 votes (4.8 percent).
Wang is eager to begin his term as president and hopes to improve participation in BSG as well as its image on campus.
“I’m really excited to represent the student body and conduct normative change in BSG—to make perceptions around BSG be an organization that is more active, more transparent and more exciting,” he said. “I really do think BSG is destined for more, and I think that’s going to be a multi-year process … that requires a lot of strong leadership. I’m excited for the people I’m going to be working with [next] year … who want to help grow a better BSG and continue the work that is currently being done.”
Having only served on BSG for one semester, Wang is looking to introduce a fresh perspective to student government by making BSG more participatory.
“I feel like, in some ways, BSG needs someone with new perspectives. It needs new faces, and it needs new energy,” he said.
He explained that although he may be an “outsider” to BSG, he has been deeply involved with campus life at Bowdoin over his nearly three years at the College, serving as a residential advisor to first year students, a trip leader for the Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) and last semester’s learning assistant for Introduction to Environmental Studies (ENVS 1101)—one of the College’s most popular first year courses.
“I do think in some ways I can be seen as an outsider, but an outsider [who] has had a big role on campus and someone who has had a commitment to making Bowdoin a better place,” he said.
Wang wants to use his experience from different organizations across campus to foster a greater sense of community within BSG.
“At the end of the day, BSG is a student organization, and I think it’s one of the most important ones, if not the most important one,” he said. “I think we need to focus on building community and relationships within the team.”
To do so, he is considering holding retreats, special training sessions and meals for BSG officeholders to build cohesion.
In the only other contested election for an executive council seat, Sachin Maharaj ’24 defeated Jickinson Lewis ’26 to be named chair of diversity and inclusion. Maharaj garnered 409 votes (53.4 percent) to Lewis’s 357 votes (46.6 percent). The other six executive council seats were filled by candidates who ran unopposed: Anyi Sun ’26, for Vice President; Edmundo Ortiz Alvarez ’23, for chair of student affairs; Abigail Martin ’26, for chair of academic affairs; Brandon Lozano-Garay ’24, for chair of facilities and sustainability; Alex Kruse ’26, for chair of student organizations; and Danielle Lancaster ’26, for chair of the treasury and head of the student affairs funding committee.
With 889 total votes cast across all executive council elections, approximately 45 percent of the student body voted for BSG President, a vast improvement from the abysmal turnout of under 20 percent in last year’s presidential election.
Outgoing BSG President Susu Gharib ’23 attributes the increased engagement to Wang’s broad involvement on campus for the increased turnout. Gharib also credits new initiatives, such as tabling events in Smith Union, that extended BSG’s visibility and may have increased voter turnout.
“Whenever we table, the first years are always the first ones there—they come in huge groups and they show up early/on-time, and I love it! The sophomores also come to a lot of our tabling events. I feel like [that’s also] helped with [turnout]—it’s just resetting the idea of BSG with the new classes that come in,” she said.
Overall, Gharib has high hopes for next year’s executive council.
“I think everyone on the new BSG executive team is amazing! They’re all very driven and motivated, and I just hope that they accomplish whatever it is that they choose,” Gharib said.
Newly elected members of the executive council will take up their positions at BSG’s meeting on Wednesday, May 3 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.