Justin Pearson ’17 questioned the constitutionality of an internal election that would allow the current Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) Interim Vice President for Student Organizations Emily Serwer ’16 to remain in her post as a full member for the rest of the year.

He voiced this concern during public comment time at Wednesday’s BSG assembly meeting. Serwer was appointed to the position following the transfer of former Vice President for Student Organizations Wylie Mao ’18, but Pearson maintained that she was not an elected student and therefore could not participate in the vacancy election, which is constitutionally restricted to members of the Assembly.

Disagreeing, BSG President Danny Mejia-Cruz ’16 and Vice President for Student Government Affairs Michelle Kruk ’16 maintained that Serwer’s interim appointment effectively made her a member, and therefore was eligible to run. In response, Pearson accused the Executive Committee of setting a dangerous precedent of extra-constitutionally “creating rules” in order to give the chance for Serwer to stay in the position though unelected by the student body.  

BSG’s constitutional provisions on a vacancy are not extensive—in the case of a vacancy, the Assembly votes to elect one of its current members to fill the spot. According to Mejia-Cruz, the timing of Mao’s resignation from the College left the Executive Committee in a bind, leading them to appoint Serwer to the position in order to have the post filled before the fall. He acknowledged that it was a constitutional “gray area.”

Serwer has previously served as BSG’s non-elected Director of Programming, and ran unsuccessfully for the position of BSG’s Vice President of Student Government Affairs last spring.

A number of voting members of the assembly eligible to run for the vacancy against Serwer—such as several At-Large Representatives—are also appointed by the BSG’s executives and not elected by the whole student body.

After the meeting, Pearson said that his objections tied into broader concerns about the BSG’s operations, arguing that in uncertain situations—such as this one, or during the confusion over the server crash, which stalled last April’s BSG elections—decisions devolve to the president or BSG’s executives in a way that is neither transparent nor fair.

Mejia-Cruz noted that his decision to ask Serwer to fill the post was only taken after getting the support of the BSG’s Vice Presidents, and having talked out all of his options with several Deans. 

Should Mejia-Cruz’s motion be passed at a BSG meeting two weeks from now, an election amongst the Assembly will be held to choose between Serwer and any other voting BSG members should they choose to oppose her. When the motion was opened up to the rest of the Assembly members for questions or concerns on the subject, none were raised.

After the meeting, Serwer seemed largely unfazed. 

“I understand where Danny was coming from,” she said. “I understand the need to now have an election to officially fill this position, and I don’t object to public comment about the constitution. It’s nice to actually hear that the student body has some interest in it.”