Response to Student Government Letter
Dear BCSG President Walter Washington, BCSG Vice President Myles Smith, and Members of the BCSG General Assembly,
We are writing to address concerns raised in your open letter to us on November 14, 2018, in which you announced the decision to temporarily step down from your positions until the demands in your letter were heard. This is an unfortunate set of circumstances that could have been avoided had you simply requested a meeting to discuss issues and work together toward solutions.
Like you, we wish to have an active and effective student government at Bates. The Office of Campus Life values its relationship with BCSG and in recent years has undertaken many initiatives to support your interest in building a more effective organization. The work of BCSG sometimes means partnering directly with the Office of Campus Life on initiatives, while at other times, the role of Campus Life is to connect BCSG members to the appropriate people and resources on campus to assist them in their work. With these considerations in mind, we wish to address some of the concerns raised in your recent letter.
The letter raises concerns regarding committee structures at the college and the role of students on committees. The college maintains numerous committees composed of students, faculty, and staff. Student representatives on these committees are selected by the BCSG Committee Selection Board (CSB). We believe student participation on the college’s committees is essential, as this is where a great deal of work in advancing the college occurs. This provides an opportunity for students not only to have a voice but to also join in the collective work of these committees. We agree that communication between student representatives on the committees and BCSG requires improvement. In recent weeks, the Office of Campus Life has actively engaged with you, as well as other student leaders, on how we can maximize student participation on college committees and create a pipeline of information that flows between committees and students.
In your letter, you suggest that you need permission to initiate meetings and send emails. This is not correct. Staff members in the Office of Campus Life have never questioned BCSG’s right to meet or communicate. Instead, on occasion, they have asked to be made aware of these meetings or have asked follow-up questions to address student concerns raised at these meetings. As an advisor to student clubs and organizations, the Office of Campus Life has a responsibility to provide guidance and support to all students and provide timely information that students have requested. Student government at Bates and other colleges are designed to work closely and collaboratively with the office that advises them and the community they represent.
There are many issues identified in your letter about BCSG-sponsored programs, which assume that BCSG is not bound by the policies and practices governing all student organizations. Allowing BCSG to operate outside the structures that govern other student activities, however, would be neither fair nor reasonable. Thus, BCSG has been asked to work in the same manner as other student organizations. Like all student organizations, BCSG has access to a variety of funding sources for events and programming (i.e., Late at Bates, Wind Down Weekends). In addition, BCSG has been advised by the Office of Campus Life that when sponsoring programs they must consider staffing for the event to ensure the safety and wellbeing of participants, which is the expectation of every student organization. It is essential that BCSG live up to the same expectations as other student organizations, and the Office of Campus Life remains willing to collaborate with BCSG leadership on their funding and program management concerns.
The Office of Campus Life is committed to supporting BCSG leadership to realize its goal of becoming a stronger organization. To that end, staff in the Office of Campus Life have been working closely throughout last year and this fall to help support and guide BCSG. We remain open to continuing this collaboration and exploring solutions with you for the concerns you raised. Success depends, however, on mutual respect and a good faith effort to work together. We bring those principles to our work with all student organizations, and we hope and trust that we can find similar common ground with the BCSG.
We look forward to meeting with you this week to discuss your concerns.
Joshua McIntosh, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students
Kim Trauceniek, Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life