Executive members of the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) are kick-starting their year by implanting a four-tier plan to improve student life and renewing their pledge for enhanced communication between officers and the student body.
Despite a clause in BSG's constitution that mandates the student government hold a meeting at least every two weeks, BSG's first public meeting is not set until September 27, at which point all newly elected officers will convene for the first time.
"Every year, this time is so undefined," President DeRay Mckesson '07 said. "Right now, we don't have a student government, so this [clause] doesn't apply yet."
Until the official assembly transpires, executive members of BSG, popularly elected last May, will meet in private to formalize goals for the semester and address issues that require immediate response. For example, the group organized last Wednesday's silent reflection in the chapel and has started to make arrangements for a late-night pancake breakfast at Super Snack to raise awareness and funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The executive members of BSG are striving to save significant decisions for later this month, when all 28 members of the student government will be present.
"We're working, being mindful that the whole body isn't there," Mckesson said. "We've been hesitant to allocate money."
Vice President of Facilities Will Donahoe '08 finds this temporary stage of governing frustrating.
"We don't have the full government in yet and it's really difficult to get anything done in a conclusive sense," he said.
Last Saturday, BSG officers held a working retreat on campus, during which they developed a mission statement and vision for their organization this semester. The vision is divided into four pillars, each representing an area in which officers feel they need improvement or definition.
As in past years, BSG hopes to maintain a focus on programming, including extended gym hours and enhanced shuttle service hours. However, members say BSG is addressing other issues as well.
To start off the year, BSG plans to stabilize its own structure by defining the roles of its committees and sponsoring a school-wide leadership development conference for the key players in clubs campus-wide.
"We won't be strong for anyone until we are strong for ourselves," Mckesson said. "We have to function well internally."
BSG also plans to expand its influence beyond programming and into the academic sphere of college life. This new emphasis on "out of classroom learning," combined with a tentative design for a NESCAC association of student governments, is intended to enhance dialogue and the reach of BSG involvement.
One of BSG's main focuses, as always, is to enhance communication between the student body and its elected representatives.
"We have tons of meetings, and people can come to the meetings, but if you're not there, there's no easy access to that information," Donahoe said.
To improve accessibility, BSG is working to create an enhanced web site that will provide both minutes from weekly meetings and a place for student suggestions, according to Donahoe.
"It will be a liaison between the student body and the student government," Class of 2008 representative Nate Tavel said. Donahoe and Tavel hope to see the web site launched within the next month.
BSG's first order of business, however, is overseeing the election of new class officers. Elections will take place online beginning at 8:00 a.m. on September 21 and ending at 8:00 p.m. on September 22.
Mckesson, who has been the Class of 2007 president for two years, is running again for class office this September.
Although holding positions on both governing bodies requires time and commitment, Mckesson hopes his aspiration to juggle these roles will not deter the voting student body.
"The argument is that there's a conflict of interests between the two positions," Mckesson said. "But student government is issue- and program-based in a way class [office] is not."
Other members of BSG also acknowledge and simultaneously dismiss the potential criticism.
"DeRay's proven himself to be a terrific class president," Tavel said.
"I fully support him in running for both positions, as long as it doesn't interfere with his ability to be a full-time student body president," he said.