Over the past few months, there has been great controversy in the Upper School about the new student leadership proposal. At first, as a woman, I thought the proposal was one of the greatest proposals ever presented to the OES community. The proposal provides a huge benefit to female students, ensuring opportunities for women to be represented as leaders of the student body. The proposal reflects the awareness that there have been very few female presidents during the past 25 years. The proposal helps to define the qualities and characteristics of good leadership. Yet this document does not satisfy me.
By providing female student candidates a guarantee of being elected, the proposal conspicuously recognizes the “handicaps” of the female candidates. It implies that women’s abilities to assume leadership are inferior to those of men. The fact that we have had only three female presidents over the past 25 years does not mean that men have more power than women do...
The principles of the proposal do not reflect the principles of a democracy. In a democracy, everyone gets one vote. If there are to be two presidents, then each student would get two votes, a violation of the rules of democracy. Also, if the vice president, secretary and other offices do not exist, the two presidents would be burdened with too much work. Who is going to run the Gathering? Who is going to run the student store? Who is going to take the Gathering notes? I think current StuCo members now have equal amount of work to do, just like checks and balances. Students might think that there is a hierarchy within the group, but they are mistaken: it is just a matter of titles.
I have talked with several teachers in the Upper School, and I learned that only the voices of Grade Deans were represented in the process of composing the proposal. When I asked some of my teachers how they feel about the proposal, they frowned at me: “Be careful when you say stuff. I didn’t get to participate in making this proposal. Not everyone did; only the Grade Deans and Jordan, Deri and Tay.” Whenever students in my class asked teachers about the proposal, they would say, “I don’t know,” but their faces clearly told me that they did not think it was the right one for OES. As a member of the junior class board, when I announced that the class meeting was for a discussion of the proposal, Dana Lewis, the junior head class advisor came up to me and said, “I don’t think this will be applied next year. Maybe in the future, but not right now.”
As Dana said, perhaps the school should not rush on this passing this proposal. In the past several years, there have been some radical changes that shocked students and teachers, such as a rotating schedule, rules at dances, and the closing of the school store. I think the school should take a longer period of time to come up with some great amendments to the existing proposal and consideration of other proposals.