Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) has implemented a number of changes in an effort to become more transparent to the students it represents.
But to some constituents, the body is already invisible.
"Their job is to be available if students have issues," said Courtney LaPierre '09. "The problem is with students not caring."
BSG has tried to reach out to students with a monthly newsletter, called "Transparent," and a new blog (twitter.com/bsgupdates). The body's Web site allows visitors to access meeting minutes, proposals, budgets, election results, and packets of information that are given to each member before meetings.
"Making ourselves accessible is really our big priority for the first couple months," said BSG President Dustin Brooks '08.
But despite this multi-pronged effort to connect students with their representatives, many students remain uninterested in the week-to-week business of BSG.
Sophomore Kate Pokrass said that she has noticed a higher volume of BSG e-mails and flyers, but is skeptical as to whether they will successfully foster student interest.
Brooks acknowledged a "high level of apathy" among students regarding BSG. However, he qualified that there are "a fair number of students that are highly interested."
This apathy has been particularly noticeable during elections, as some open positions only gain nominations under an extended deadline, and many candidates run uncontested.
"We definitely have way more empty seats after the first round of petitions than I would like there to be," Brooks said.
Although voter turnout waivers from 25 percent to 60 percent, Brooks said these numbers are "better than other colleges."
"Traditionally we're at 60 percent," he said.
Fei Tan '08 does not see student government as relevant to his life at Bowdoin.
"It's not something that I think about or care about, especially as a senior," he said. Tan added that his disinterest stemmed partly because as a senior, he would not be affected by many of BSG's decisions, which would not be implemented before graduation.
"I don't really care about our country's politics, so I don't care about campus politics," said Shavonne Lord '10.
But according to BSG Vice President for Student Organizations and Communications Director William Donahoe '08, it is not necessary for BSG to connect directly with every student.
"You're communicating a lot with the people that are the trendsetters," Donahoe said.
Brooks stressed the value of student input, because BSG acts as a liaison between the students and administration. He also explained that administrators often divulge critical information to BSG.
"It's really important that we disseminate that information," he said.
"As a result of these efforts, the student body will become more interested," predicted At-Large Representative Ben Freedman '09.
"People have gotten curious, which I don't think they were before," said Christian Adams, a BSG representative for the Class of 2009. "Some people didn't even know BSG existed."
BSG has recently extended an open invitation to students who wish to dine with representatives in Thorne Hall on Thursday evenings. Although these meals have not been heavily attended so far, Brooks said students that do come bring good ideas to the table.
In September, BSG met three times in Smith Union's Morrell Lounge before moving back to Thorne's Daggett Lounge after students complained that they had invaded their study space.