Students Spill Tea with BCSG

Bates College Student Government (BCSG) held their first ever “Chai Chat” on March 1. Students were invited to come to The Ronj on Frye Street, enjoy a cup of lavender chai and engage with student representatives regarding their questions or concerns about student life.

Assembly Representatives from each class year were in attendance, in addition to BCSG Co-Presidents Ali Manning ‘23 and Kush Sharma ‘23.

During the event, BCSG encouraged students to speak on stage, write their comments via an anonymous suggestion box or send in questions through an Instagram livestream, ensuring that every student had a chance to be heard. 

Manning kicked off the town-hall style meeting by explaining the selection process for the college’s new president, Garry W. Jenkins. Manning indicated that there was to be more open communication and an improved liaison between students and the new president. She went further to announce BCSG’s plan to author an open letter to Jenkins, establishing a new narrative between the two.

To begin the commenting period, an anonymous student stated their desire for more senior events before the end of the school year. Student government representatives responded by directing seniors to look into the Senior Co-Presidents Committee which is looking for event suggestions. Their instagram is @batesseniors2023

Another student requested more grab-and-go food options. Representatives from the Class of 2026 responded, saying that they are currently in touch with Dining, Conferences and Campus Events (DCCE), but for now, the food truck is the only alternative dining option for students who do not wish to eat in Commons. The representatives have suggested grab-n-go refrigerators in other buildings, but financial and staffing barriers remain.

Issues concerning water pressure and temperature in dorm showers were also brought up. BCSG expressed that they are in continuous communication with the facilities director, Geoff Swift, to address these issues. They also encouraged students to utilize facilities’ text messaging service when issues arise.

Later in the “Chai Chat,” BCSG mentioned the new addition of three ballot questions for the upcoming election. These questions will appear when a student votes for their class representatives. Though unfinalized, Sharma indicated that they may revolve around issues such as free/cheaper laundry, increased student wages, increased CAPS funding and an arts initiative. 

When students conveyed their desire for more parking on campus, BCSG reps responded by saying that another parking lot was unlikely and that the handbook indicates that buying a parking pass does not guarantee parking. However, students proposed that BCSG encourage facilities and maintenance vehicles to move out of student spaces in the Merrill parking lot to free up spaces.

Next, students addressed the ongoing faculty push for a new two-course requirement that falls under a Race, Privilege, Power, Colonialism label. They mentioned that one class would have to fall within the student’s major and would differ on the national and global scale. Some classes would already fulfill this requirement, and it is proposed to be enacted within the coming years.

When asked about her thoughts on the event, student attendee, Trinity Monstwillo ‘26 remarked, “[The “Chai Chat”] was a good way to get involved.” She further expressed her appreciation for the anonymous papers as “a good way to get people to actually voice their concerns since there were not a lot of people who went up to the microphone to voice their concerns.” 

BCSG has not yet announced when the next “Chai Chat” will take place, but they plan to host another. With any questions about the topics mentioned above, feel free to contact your class representatives for more information.