Thursday, April 5, 2012

Let’s Keep Our Heads By Andrew W.

(On March 8, 2012, StuCo and the Leadership Team (Jordan, Deri, Tay, Catherine, Debby S., Deb W., and Kara) met to discuss the Leadership Proposal that the Leadership Team wrote and proposed. The primary purpose of this meeting was to provide an opportunity for StuCo to ask the Leadership Team questions and get a fuller understanding of how, when and why the Leadership Team decided to develop this proposal.)

When the Blophish staff arrived at the Student Council meeting, we didn’t know what to expect. Our brave few posted credentials on the bulletin board behind us, a half-sheet of paper labeled “PRESS.” Hunkered down behind our notebooks and Twitter feeds (we’re @blophish, for those of you who still think sliced bread is pretty swell), the corps prepared to spread the word about the unintentionally shrouded nature of the leadership committee. Instead of battle, however, this reporter was pleasantly surprised to see how receptive the faculty seemed to student input. They were completely open to our president’s first request to hear what the faculty had to say about the student leadership proposal.  What followed was definitely a surprise: a number of the faculty members agreed that the released proposal wasn’t even necessarily a good place for the committee to introduce itself to the student body. One particular member continually placed emphasis how intentional OES’s other policies are (enrollment diversity ratios, intentionality of dorm representatives, etc.)...

Other faculty members agreed hesitantly with this maverick, but there seemed to be an unspoken reminder straining behind clenched teeth that the man is only Head of the Upper School, not God. The members suggested such things as creating certain sub-committees intended for different tasks (Mystery Friday, Midwinter Madness, Prom, etc.) Also included was a suggestion that the government take a more parliamentary flavor, with members elected to the general board by voters and then training elected members for certain roles. Students expressed concerns almost immediately, and even some teachers admitted that the proposal might be “too radical.”

Following the parliament proposal, members suggested that students might take courses in leadership before being able to run for student government. This idea in particular seemed to hold great merit to the council, following one faculty member’s testament that leadership course do work “in the real world,” which our school attempts to emulate. Admittedly, there was some concern from students that there wasn’t a direct enough representation in a parliamentary system. However, I’m sure that with the necessary layer of polish that all proposals deserve before being exposed to the student body, a compromise could be arranged.

What struck me personally was how much the first student leadership proposal lacked this polish.  While the committee emphasized student power, the faculty also reserves the choice which student is elected. The committee’s boldness about empowering diversity and preventing monotonous biased patriarchy fell upon the deaf ears of those who wished to arrange our governance by alleged statistics and unbending quotas. The proposal is so fundamentally out of place in the committee’s ideology that I am emboldened to argue its sole purpose was to start a school-wide discussion on the issue of sexism and the patriarchy of leadership. I can only hope that the people do not see the leadership committee as some sort of malevolent body whose sole intention is stripping the rights of the students. Tempting as it is to take some sort of stand à la Braveheart, William Wallace was a hero because of his oppressors, not his methods of violence. We the students are not an oppressed people by design. The proposal is only a proposal, and I would urge people to cooperate with the leadership committee as they continue. The committee’s hearts are with the students, and that’s the truth of it.
-Andrew W.

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