Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) President DeRay Mckesson '07 says he will not run for the Class of 2007 presidency in the upcoming re-election.
Mckesson was disqualified in last week's election by the BSG Elections Committee because of his role as student government president. Mckesson originally planned on running again, but after discussions with the BSG officer team, he decided to end his candidacy.
Mckesson maintains that his candidacy did not break any election rules. In an interview, he said that he withdrew from the election Tuesday in order to maintain a good working relationship with BSG's vice presidents and treasurer. Those officers make up the Election Committee that decided Mckesson's fate.
"At the end of the day, it is about this team more than it is about me," he said. "This team will be able to do great things."
Mckesson said that the roles of student body president and class president are very different. Class presidents are not considered members of the voting student government body, and much of a class officer's work revolves around programming, he said.
"To do that creatively has been an awesome challenge for the past few years," he said. Mckesson was class president during his first and second years at Bowdoin.
According to Vice President for BSG Affairs Dustin Brooks '08, the committee's ruling last week was "drawn from a collection of sources." He referred to rules that declare that candidates are not to draw support from College organizations, and that candidates cannot use College resources. In this interpretation, Mckesson's presidency could create the implication of support by BSG, and he could also be seen as a college resource. In addition, Brooks said there was a conflict of interest between Mckesson's role on the officer team and his role as a candidate.
The complaint against Mckesson was made by Derrick Wong '07, who is a candidate for class treasurer. Wong also filed a complaint against Liz Laurits '07, alleging that Mckesson's endorsement of Laurits was improper. Laurits is Wong's opponent for the treasurer position.
The re-election, which will be held on October 5 and 6, will give voters a chance to cast ballots for the Class of 2007 treasurer and president positions. Laurits and Wong will reappear on the ballot, along with any new candidates who submit candidacy petitions.
Mckesson, who is still president of the student body, opened the organization's first meeting on Tuesday. There was brief discussion about the disqualification, but most of the business related to plans for the upcoming year.
Students can expect to see outdoor lunches at Thorne Dining Hall, improvements to the BSG web site and extended gym hours. Vice President of Facilities Will Donahoe '08 described the extended gym hours as "one of the more popular services" provided by BSG.
Last year, BSG provided funding to extend gym hours until midnight on Sunday through Thursday. Currently, the Watson Fitness Center closes at 10:00 p.m.
Donahoe told the Orient that it appears the Department of Athletics will foot the bill for extended hours this year.
In other business, Vice President of Student Affairs Carolyn Chu '07 hopes to launch "Name Tag Day." BSG would provide name tags to every student and request that they wear the stickers around campus. The activity would encourage students to talk to people they see regularly but do not know.
Student government can also expect to see changes. Brooks said the body hopes to implement a campus leadership program and partner with other New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) schools for a student government association. Mckesson said he should be participating in a conference call with other student body presidents within the next month in order to discuss the potential organization.
By a vote of 25 to one, BSG also passed a document known as "The Compact for Student Government," a platform that Mckesson campaigned on in the spring. The plan lists a variety of goals for the year.
At its next meeting, BSG will begin to take up constitutional amendments. It will also discuss creating a resolution regarding the Maine referendum question that would overturn the state's sexual orientation anti-discrimination law.
In addition, Mckesson said President Barry Mills will attend that meeting to discuss the status of the search for a new Dean of Academic Affairs. Craig McEwen will step down from that position at the end of this year.