Stepping up the Student Council

 

THE NEW PRES Junior Claire Banowsky lights a candle to officially begin her term as the new student council president.

Public meetings in large spaces. Elections held earlier in the year. Raising the GPA minimum for candidates. Amending the constitution (that no one knew existed). These are the changes the 2011-2012 Student Council and Dean Matthews hope to implement for the upcoming school year.

Encouraging students to attend the open Council meetings is one of the biggest and most important steps that the Council is making. By allowing people to participate in something they traditionally have not, the Council hopes it will generate more interest in their activities among the students and inspire them to voice their own opinions.

Junior Claire, next year’s Student Council President, doesn’t agree with the “party planning” image the Council has acquired and wants to focus in the year ahead on becoming more of a “liaison for the people who aren’t on Student Council.”

The council meetings, which in the past took place in the Memorial Dining Room during lunch, will next year be held in Clements during Y-period. Although there are well over 200 girls in elected positions, only 22 are currently allowed to attend Council meetings. This larger space will provide a seat for members and non-members as well.

The Council also plans to amend the constitution, which lays out the rules and goals of the Student Council. Amending the constitution will instate small changes that will update the Council to current-day needs. For example, Dean Matthews hopes to raise the minimum GPA for students running for a Council position from 2.0 to 2.5.

Claire is also very aware of the girls who don’t take their jobs seriously. The students who are just in it for their résumé is something that, she says, “needs to change if we want to make the Student Council an effective leadership position.”

Holding elections in Feb. instead of April is another proposal that will come before the student body in a vote. An impactful change, it will allow new members a chance to get better acquainted with their new positions. With an extra month before their term starts, the elected officials will have a chance to be mentored by their predecessors and be more prepared for the upcoming school year.

“It’s good to have that transition period,” Claire says, adding that it is a good opportunity for girls to become familiar with their position before the new year starts.

This will also provide more time for the girls to organize the calendar and take more initiative in planning more popular events such as Town Hall Meetings, the student-only gatherings missing from this year’s events.

“I wish we had a town hall,” says 2010-2011 Form I President Mary. “It’s a more casual way to get out ideas, and a lot of times Hockaday is more monitored, so for girls to be able to share their opinions with everyone, it would be better.”

This absence of Town Hall has led to a recent outcry from the student body.

“Town Halls were a way of showing what the student government stood for, but by excluding Town Halls the role of the student government changed; it became less of involving the student body to more of organizing parties,” says freshman Shreya.

In an effort to teach girls how a board is effectively run, Student Council members will have a chance to sit in on a Hockaday board meeting. Permitting the girls to see how professional meetings are run will allow them, in turn, to organize more efficient meetings of their own.

Dean Matthews has also expressed interest in collaborating with other schools’ Student Councils to find fresh and improved ways to utilize the panel of students.

For the next school year, members of the Student Council are excited for the changes and expecting great things to come.

“I hope people feel like they have a voice on campus again,” says Matthews. “I think that’s something that’s been lost for a few years.”

—Laura