Janine Kritschgau–The following is a response written by Senior Austin Goldsmith, the Midwinter Madness Representative for Student Council, to previous Dig commentary. But first, here’s a little letter from the editor.
These have certainly been an interesting past few days. I live for times like these. Although fraught with challenge, we must recognize that they are also brimming with hope. In this case, the hope is that students can have a healthy discussion regarding flaws in the election process in order to ensure smoother elections in the future.
The Dig also asks the Student Body to consider what a difficult situation this is for all students, especially those students who ran for President. We admire their willingness to step up!
As for continuing this discussion, please feel free to use the comment feature on our website to respectfully post your thoughts. And of course, we hope to see you at the ShinDig tomorrow from 3-6pm.
Austin Goldsmith–I would first like to remind everyone before they get too far into this message that I am one student. I am not speaking on behalf of StuCo, or the senior class; this is my voice and my voice alone.
Spencer’s article in the Dig states: “All that policy board did this year, according to a member of the policy board, is that single amendment to the constitution. Nothing else.” First off, I am that member of policy board mentioned. And I was misrepresented. Aside from the fact that we spearheaded two, not one, amendments, I said that this was the only visible form of action shown thus far from Policy Board. The seniors are graduating in two weeks, and as a result of both student input and Policy Board, students can now pick the color of gown they want to wear. But we, the student body, haven’t seen that yet. Furthermore, those amendments took us the majority of the year, because changing the constitution is a big deal. According to our constitution, a board proposal has the following requirements:
1)The Policy and Community Boards jointly propose an Amendment that is approved by the Student Body President and passed by a two-thirds majority vote of the Board.
2)The Proposal is presented to the Upper School Student Body for discussion that is between two and four months in duration.
3)The Proposal is adopted as an Amendment through a majority vote of the Upper School student body.
Two to four months of discussion. And that’s after the proposed Amendment has been completely written. After a look at the calendar, I’ve noticed that there have only been approximately 40-50 hours of activity periods for StuCo to meet. That’s less than the on-campus service requirement, and students have four years to complete that. Policy Board, on the other hand, has been together for all of eight months.
On that note, this is Policy Board’s very first year. Walking in to the first activity period, we had no idea what we were going to do, but what we all had in common was that we were passionate about our school. From both a list Jordan and Deb gave us and our own ideas, we picked a three sets of goals: a short term goal (gowns), a ‘medium’ term goal (constitutional amendments), and long-term goal (drawing attention to citizenship at OES). We have worked on all three in our limited amount of time together, and have accomplished two of three of our goals. The third was not necessarily meant to be completed this year. We’ve done a lot of work on it, including the citizenship survey. And yeah, we’ve discussed the results for a month, because citizenship is really important to us and we want to find the best way to make meaningful changes. “What came out of it? Nothing,” Spencer’s article states. Well, he’s right; nothing has officially come out of it. YET. We want to think long and hard about such an important topic before we act. I know the student body seems to want action, but that’s what got us into trouble this week; a fraction of the student body, some of whom were on StuCo, acted too quickly, and now we want to fix it. (Also, Policy Board was completely set to present some of our work surrounding citizenship, but the issues surrounding the election demanded an immediate response.)
All in all, I think it’s awesome that the student body has such enthusiasm with regards to our student government. It shows how much we care and want to be involved in how our school runs. It’s school spirit, and I’m definitely in that boat too! As you can see, I’ve gotten a little ‘mama bear’ on this issue, because it’s so important to me. Even though I’m graduating soon, I want so badly for all of us to go to school in a place where we feel respected and heard.
My final note is that I ask students to remember Student Council is not the United States government. No, there’s no gridlock or massive shutdowns, but there is an unpredictable administration with a lot of influence. .Furthermore, we are students first and foremost who are anywhere between fourteen and nineteen years old, and we are trying to balance our lives as teenagers with our lives as members on Student Council. We have opinions that are not always kind and professional, but as committed members Student Council, we check those at the door when we enter into our StuCo meetings, and focus completely on being a representative of our grade or group. The students at OES, myself included, all want perfection, especially when something important like matters concerning our school are at stake, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I have been on StuCo for one year, and in previous years, I’ve certainly complained about what StuCo was or wasn’t doing. When I wasn’t on StuCo, I saw it as an intangible committee and therefore I gave no thought to the implications of what I was saying. It’s the same when we bash people in positions of power, teachers, celebrities, and political figures, so why not these students? They can certainly seem to be just as removed. But we, Student Council, are your friends too. Outside of our meetings, we are at your house on Friday nights, and we’re posting pictures and funny links to your walls on Facebook. It’s easy to hide behind a computer or in the comfort of your lunch table and complain; I’ve done it too, because I absolutely love having something to be so passionate about. But being on the other side of the those comments, I’ve realized how stressful they can be. I don’t expect the comments to stop, but I request that we all be more careful about how our words impact others. Finally, I hope we all continue to have such vibrant opinions, but don’t let them stop at the lunch table. Do something about it! Our complaints aren’t going to go anywhere if there is no action. I have a lot to say on the matters of our school, and I was lucky enough to be elected to Policy Board this year. Obviously not everyone has that opportunity. But there are tons of ways to get our ideas heard. Let’s commit to making more use of them.