Ian Yaffe '09 will not be running for Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) president this year, all but guaranteeing that Dustin Brooks '08 will become the student body's next president.
A referendum question, which would have allowed any member of the student body to run for president, failed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The referendum was initiated by Yaffe.
Brooks is the body's vice president for student government affairs and will be the only candidate on the ballot.
Brooks said that his No. 1 priority for next year's BSG is increased communication with the student body.
"My primary goal is finding out what students want," Brooks said. "I think it's a problem that President Mills and Dean Foster have office hours, but the BSG doesn't."
Yaffe, who has never served on BSG and is therefore ineligible to run, gathered enough signatures over the weekend to propose a constitutional amendment that would have made any student eligible to run. The petition he submitted to the Elections Commission included 364 signatures of students on campus, as well as two e-mails from students abroad.
The Elections Commission met on Monday night and decided to hold the referendum vote to amend the constitution on Tuesday, so as not to move Thursday's and today's previously scheduled BSG elections.
BSG constitution mandates that 30 percent of the student body must vote in a referendum election for it to be valid. The referendum did not pass since only 458 students voted, instead of the required 547.
According to Class of 2007 Representative Emily Hubbard, 297 students voted in favor of the amendment that would have made all students eligible to run for BSG president, while 161 students voted against the amendment.
"I regret to inform you that the referendum did not pass because it did not achieve at least 30 percent of the student body voting in it," wrote Yaffe in a Facebook message to all members of the Facebook group "Hasta la victoria siempre! Yaffe for President."
"Once again, the BSG presidency will go without contest," he wrote.
According to Yaffe, there were a number of issues that may have impeded the referendum vote.
For example, the referendum was posted at 8 a.m. as part of a different referendum from the previous week, meaning that students who had already cast a ballot on the first referendum were unable to vote on the second until the issue was resolved some three hours later.
In addition, no announcement of the new referendum was made to the student body until 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, even though polls opened at 8 a.m. that morning. The e-mail was sent late due to a "glitch in the campus wide e-mail system," according to an e-mail sent to all students later that night.
"Due to issues with the list servers, no announcement has been made yet about the election taking place," Yaffe wrote in a Tuesday afternoon e-mail to the Orient.
"According to the BSG, I am not allowed to use the list servers or the digest to announce this referendum," he said, referencing officials' decisions to apply election rules to the referendum. Instead, Yaffe turned to Facebook and publicized the referendum through that Web site.
To correct the list and polling problems, BSG decided to extend voting until 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Shortly after voting closed, Yaffe was informed that the required 30 percent of students had not voted.
"A lot of people I know that supported this were confused. They didn't know it was happening even though they wanted to vote," Yaffe said.
"It is clear that a majority of people in that election did favor this [amendment], so it's clear that this discussion is not over. This is only the beginning," he said.
Yaffe said that he hopes to see this issue brought up again in the fall. He said that if the new BSG does not entertain a discussion about making all students eligible for BSG president, he plans to mobilize efforts again.
"I think a discussion and a referendum would be in order again?with a lot more time for discussion and a lot more mobilization of the entire student body," he said.
Brooks said that he will make sure that the issue of BSG eligibility is on next year's agenda.
"I don't think it's been adequately resolved," Brooks said. "I think there needs to be a campus dialogue about it."
BSG President DeRay Mckesson '07 commented on the election to the Orient Wednesday night.
"I have faith in the process, especially because as an institution, we were structurally, wholly unprepared. There are very few rules governing this process and we worked really closely with Ian to make sure it was done in good faith. It was an unprecedented sign of student activism, which I appreciate."
Yaffe said that although the amendment failed, his efforts were not in vain.
"The message was sent to the BSG that if you don't include students in the process, we're going to force them to," he said.