Letter to the Editor: BSG Constitution

To the Editor,

Over the past two weeks, many misconceptions and misguided rumors have been spread about BSG’s policies and involvement on campus. Some of these issues are related to processes in which BSG is routinely a part of, but others are a consequence of misinformation in the media. Much of the campus discussion culminated in personal attacks of character, sweeping generalizations about the student government, the deliberate spreading of false information, and most deplorably, the sexual and psychological harassment of leaders on campus who devote their time to the betterment of our University. We write this letter to inform a very deserving group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents about the true facts at hand.

Who We Are

We are your elected representatives. We were elected by our peers to make decisions on behalf of the student body to strengthen our community and better our Bucknell experience. As a group, we represent a wide range of class years, races, cultures, and attitudes. Despite being a more heterogeneous conglomeration of individuals, we also–perhaps overwhelmingly–represent the Greek community. To assume that BSG does not support or represent the best interest of the Greek community is simply a fallacy. As student representatives, we are elected to voice the opinions of all students, both Greek and non-Greek.

Our Turn: The Proposed BSG Constitution

We sincerely appreciate and empathize with the student body’s passion for wanting to have a voice on campus. However, we were disheartened by our peers’ misunderstanding of our organization’s intentions. As the BSG Constitution has not been significantly amended for over 15 years, we hoped to update the document to better serve our constituents. Please allow us to clarify several misconceptions:

  • First and foremost, the proposed constitution aims to make BSG a more democratic institution. In our current system, students are elected into four class congresses and organized into internal committees that focus on campus issues such as diversity, academics, community, student life, and public relations. The proposed system calls for students to elect two-thirds of congress to class congresses and one-third directly to committees. This change would allow students to work on issues of which they feel most passionate, as well as enable the student body to elect representatives it thinks would best serve in each role. The aim is to increase passion within the organization, as well as transparency for how each committee is structured.
  • Second, the proposed constitution works to eliminate several inconsistencies that developed after years of amending the bylaws without the constitution. These centered on clarifying how vacancies would be filled (encouraging elections rather than appointments), how committee chairs are decided (through congressional vote rather than executive appointment), and outlining our core values.
  • Third, the proposed constitution has very little–if anything–to do with student organization recognition and funding. Revised Recognition and Appropriations policies were adopted by a vote of congress in November 2013 to emphasize fiscal responsibility and increase the reach of Student Activity Fee dollars. While the constitution aims to restructure the student makeup of the Student Organization Review Board, a newly created committee that serves as a check on the Appropriations Committee, the proposed language takes power away from the Vice President of Operations. It places this power into the hands of students to elect deserving representatives directly to the committee. Ironically, the student body dismissed this increase in democracy.
  • Fourth, the constitution does not seek to restrict membership. It is important to realize that BSG remains one of the few truly elected organizations on campus. BSG’s bylaws currently require all Executive President candidates to have served at least two semesters on BSG before seeking election. The revised constitution proposes a one-semester requirement. We feel strongly that this is a great compromise. As in most organizations, we see the president as the head orchestrator of all congressional activities. His or her ability to run effective meetings, enact change, and maintain organization within congress is dependent on his or her understanding of how the organization is run and structured. Without previous experience, an even steeper learning curve would be needed after each presidential change. This would ultimately set back the productivity of the organization, hampering the ability of BSG representatives to move forward with initiatives that better our constituents’ experience at Bucknell. In the end, a vice president has equal ability to enact change and to provide leadership and experience to the student body. This is evidenced by a long history of vice presidents who had no previous experience with BSG, yet served as excellent members on the Executive Board. We hope to continue this trend.

Future Challenges and Opportunities

We can assure you that we work hard to voice your concerns. We additionally encourage input from the student body through open congressional meetings every Sunday at 4 p.m. in the ELC Forum, suggestion boxes, open forums, and weekly office hours with the Executive Board. Despite consistent encouragement for an open dialogue between the student body and the student government, we receive very little discussion. Unfortunately, it is only through recent criticism and personal attacks that we have received any feedback. Much of this language is unproductive, perpetuating hate and ignorance rather than thoughtful discussion and diplomacy. It is our aim to continue to listen to the student voice, increase our ability to represent our constituents, and work towards creating a better Bucknell. BSG will continue to adapt and change, promoting progress and inclusion.

Sincerely,

Your Elected Representatives of Bucknell Student Government

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