Students are urging Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) to put sheep out on the Quad to graze. This proposal, along with several more serious suggestions, appears on BSG's new online suggestion box.
On Monday, BSG added a feature to its web site that enables students to post suggestions, anonymously if they wish, and vote for or against each others' ideas.
Vice President of Facilities William Donahoe '08 is in charge of sending out emails to the student body on behalf of BSG, and although he has always included a note at the bottom of each email that encourages students to contact BSG with concerns, he said that members of BSG "don't get a lot [of suggestions]." In fact, he added, "We get more emails from other schools asking us how we do stuff."
Since the implementation of the suggestion box earlier this week, students have added several suggestions to the web site, which concern everything from social life on campus to buying textbooks.
When a suggestion is submitted, Donahoe reviews it for anything inappropriate, posts it on the web site, and begins looking into the issue. Sometimes, suggestions will be discussed at BSG meetings in order to decide how to proceed. Other times, upon reading certain suggestions, Donahoe said he thinks, "Oh perfect!" and emails the administration to follow up immediately. According to Donahoe, presenting the number of votes that a suggestion has is like presenting a petition for an idea.
Donahoe believes it is important to communicate with concerned students, so he usually responds to students right away to let them know if their suggestion is already in the works, if it will be looked into, or, in some cases, why it just is not possible.
"It makes me ask questions too, which is important," Donahoe said.
Sometimes, a student will make a proposition to create something that already exists. In cases such as this, BSG considers more advertising.
"The suggestions can have a really fast turn-around," Donahoe said. For instance, he said that a student suggested enhancing the suggestion box by allowing students to add comments to posted suggestions. BSG immediately began work on the proposal.
"It is nice to have the input," Donahoe said, "because so many ideas are better from the outside."