Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) welcomed Sarah Washington ’17 as its newest member at its meeting on Wednesday, filling the newly created chair of the representative of the Multicultural Coalition.

As a representative, Washington hopes to utilize BSG’s school-wide email capability and institutional support to better promote multicultural events on campus, saying, “Often, unless you’re a Facebook friend with someone, you’re not really going to get invited to an event, but if you’re getting an email from BSG—that’s different, it’s something that’s simple that can have an immediate impact.”

Last semester’s calls for broader dialogue about the issues that students of color face on campus culminated in a proposal by the BSG’s executive team to propose adding a new interest-group representative for the Multicultural Coalition, similar to the ones already on BSG representing the Inter-House Council, the Athletics Council, the McKeen Center and the Entertainment Board.

The student body overwhelmingly approved a referendum on the new position before Winter Break by a 1,155 to 100 vote. Last Friday, representatives of the 22 groups that make up the Multicultural Coalition met to elect their new BSG delegate. Three students ran for the position, the other two being Hugh Mo ’17 of the Asian Students Association, and Victoria Pitaktong ’17 of Students for a Free Tibet.

Washington, who lives at the John Brown Russwurm African American Center and primarily considers herself a member of the African-American Society (Af-Am), believes that one of her roles is to maximize the role of all the multicultural groups on campus, a challenge given the breadth of Bowdoin’s multicultural community.

“It brought up questions of whether bigger groups should have more of a say than others,” said Washington.

One of the people in charge of resolving those kinds of questions was Kiki Nakamura-Koyama ’17, currently the student intern in the Student Center for Multicultural Life, which oversees the Multicultural Coalition. She oversaw this election and, along with former BSG Vice President for Student Government Affairs Charlotte McLaughry ’15, originally proposed the multicultural representative position to BSG last April. However, it lost traction due to being proposed at the last meeting of the year.

Nakamura-Koyama had initially proposed the representative after perceiving that events beyond the college—such as the deaths of Eric Garner and of Michael Brown and the Ferguson protests—were inspiring little action or conversation on the part of BSG. She, like Washington, sees the position not only as reactive to recent events at Bowdoin and in the wider world but also serving to address a longer-term deficit in dialogue about race and multicultural issues on campus.

“Even if there aren’t any major events happening at the time, it’s necessary to bring a multicultural voice into BSG in order to express the sentiments of almost one-third of the campus,” Nakamura-Koyama said.