PICTURED ABOVE: Student Council President Samantha Watson and Vice President Zasca Ristianto converse with Senior Jennifer Wang about suggestions for the upcoming year. Photo by Emily Fuller.
On Oct. 24, during advisory, Student Council is to send out their executive council, as well as board representatives, to survey the student body and take suggestions. Beginning in 2015 when Francis Burton ‘16 was the Upper School Student Council President, the Student Council Stop-By system was first introduced into effect.
Because the Student Council held town halls in 2013 and no form of official student feedback in 2014, the council wanted to make it a point to incorporate ideas from the student body into their plans for the year. Working with the Student Council at the time this idea was first suggested, College Counselor Elizabeth Jones shares how the idea was first introduced.
“It specially came out of a need to connect with the student body and capture student feedback of things that can be improved,” Jones said.
Originally, the suggestion from the former Upper School Student Council Vice President Gabria Pearson ‘16 was so have a mailbox system for suggestions. According to current Upper School Student Council President Samantha Watson, this new system is an adaptation of the original idea.
“This is essentially just a fast-action mailbox where we are reaching out to the writers,” Watson said.
The council stations themselves in Great Hall during lunch to listen to student’s thoughts.
“Not only does this system bring the council suggestions for mixer, free dress, winter formal themes, but it informs us of hearty issues on campus that demand our attention,” Watson said.
Not only did they bring in helpful data, but also Jones states they had a broader positive impact as well.
“My favorite part about it is that I think it brings the community together. I think it is another way in for conversation and communication. It’s another way to bring together the students with the student council. It allows the student council to really serve as leaders,” Jones said.
Echoing this, Watson sees them as a way to promote community, so for the past two years, Student Council has made it a point to conduct one a quarter.
The first year craved more student attendance, however, so in order to make the entire process less intimidating, the 2016-2017 council altered the stop-by system to take place in the form of advisory drop-ins.
“From my perspective, I felt like they were well attended, but of course, we always wanted more students and more feedback,” Jones said. “We really tried to find a way to reach more students and encourage more students to come.”
According to former Student Council Secretary, Senior Paloma Renteria, there was an easy fix.
“[The council] moved it to take place in advisory because people felt more comfortable with the people they had a bond with and were easily willing to open up and share some solid ideas without it being too filtered,” Renteria said. “We now have opinions from people in all grades, and it was cool to see the upperclassmen who naturally felt more comfortable with each other able to collaborate on ideas as they were being suggested.”
For the third year, the current Executive Council felt the need to continue this new tradition. Not only were they founded in 2015 to reflect the Student Council theme of the year, communication, but also they honor the 2017-2018 theme of inclusivity. The current council, as well as Watson, sees it fitting.
“I truly think they were proud of the work that they did, but one of the things they were focused on was how to truly get more students to come and how to give feedback to the student body so that they know their voices are heard and their ideas are valued.”
Similarly, Renteria is excited about the continuance.
“I hope this makes people realize people just realize how much Student Council really wants to connect with them,” Renteria said.
Starting next week, Student Council is to send it representatives from boards, form councils and the executive council from each advisory’s grade level. After the short meetings, the council then goes through each suggestion one at a time to fully take their ideas to heart. Putting the suggestions into a GoogleDoc, the council’s focus is to give everyone’s idea a fair chance.
“Even if we couldn’t implement it, it was out there on the table. A lot did get put into action through which was really exciting,” Watson said.
Wanting to go back to the original intent of the Student Council Stop-By system, the council currently seeks a better way to get back in touch with each individual who makes a suggestion as to where their idea is in the process.
“This goes back to why we started doing it in the first place how we can be more in tune with the ideas of the students,” Watson said.
Story by Emily Fuller – Arts + Life Editor