Before Alkhaaliq Bashir '05 submitted his electronic ballot in the Bowdoin Student Government elections last April, he read some of the candidates' campaign proposals linked to the election site. Although these helped inform his selections, Bashir said he was wary of the promises they contained.
"It's hard to find what's serious and what is realistic and can actually be done," he said.
Since the beginning of the year, a number of achievements have found their way from BSG's board room meetings to various aspects of campus life, including an improved airport and weekend shuttle service, the launching of a course evaluation website for student use, and providing newspapers in the dining halls.
But according to an Orient tally, the Bowdoin Student Government has accomplished only six out of the 25 actions proposed by its seven elected officers this semester.
Bashir said he believes they could do more.
Junior Jen Sepanara agreed. "I think they should do more, though I know events do take a lot of planning," she said.
When asked about a statement made by V.P. of Student Affairs DeRay McKesson '07 in an Orient interview this week, in which McKesson pinned the BSG's record on its not being "an accountable body," Sepanara said she could understand that perspective.
"I think people don't expect them to do much," she said, "I think people think they already know what they're doing."
Bashir agreed. "They're going from what [students] give them," he said, which may not be very much.
If BSG is not as accountable as it could be to students, it could be partly due to a general lack of student awareness about the student government and its operation. According to the BSG constitution, the organization is "empowered by the Student Body to be responsible for presenting student opinion to the administration." Yet in an informal Orient poll of 14 Bowdoin students selected at random in Smith Union Thursday, two could not name any of their class's four elected BSG representatives and almost one third were unaware that Haliday Douglas '05 is the body's current president. When asked to participate, one student had to ask what the commonly-heard acronym "BSG" signified.
Bashir, who also believes BSG could benefit from being more accountable to the student body, said he knows that the weekly BSG meetings are open to all students, though he has not attended any this year.
But despite the open invitations to meetings on some BSG campus emails, this knowledge may not be widespread. Less than half of those informally polled said they were aware of this policy. Only one student knew when and where BSG holds is regular weekly meetings?Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. in Moulton Union.
"All I know about [the BSG] is what happens in my class," said sophomore Tasha Graff. Graff commended the '07 class officers for being "very active" in keeping the class updated, but added that she did not know very much about BSG as a whole.
Asked about her overall impression of the Student Government's progress this semester, Graff said she knew too little to comment.
"I'm unclear as to what I think their mission is and what they think their purpose is," she said, "so I couldn't judge what they do."
Student Government members have said they are taking steps to change that. While no dates have been set for some of the proposals, such as installing a suggestion box in the Union, the Orient has received confirmation that BSG will begin holding office hours for students either next week or the first week after Christmas break.
For Sepanara, more knowledge about the body's operation could only bolster student interest.
"I'm not sure what [the BSG] has the authority to do," she said, "but if I did know, I'd be more involved."