Thursday, April 5, 2012

Respectfully Disagree By Janine K

The purpose of this article is to represent those unhappy with the initial proposal.

What is most surprising about the leadership team’s current discussion with students is that various pieces of information have not been released. Some of these facts may seem appalling to students and faculty alike, including those on the current Leadership Board. First, what seems completely counter intuitive and somewhat insulting when one considers the allegedly ‘three years’ in which this proposal has been discussed is that there is absolutely no record of the past 25 presidents. None, whatsoever. According to Jordan Elliot, current Head of Upper School, the statistic, which states that only 3 out of the past 25 presidents have been female, is based solely on “faculty memory.” Without an official record, many questions are left unanswered. Are there other groups, such as the dorm community, that has not been represented by the president’s in  former years? Should we consider a bigger picture regarding student leadership while completely reconstructing our election process, or focus only on gender? Catherine Molloseau, Grade Dean to the Class of 2014, stated that the proposal should exercise “more of a focus” on the teaching of leadership to the student council representatives, “That, more than anything” should be stressed, she commented...

One argument that has become particularly prevalent after Mo Copeland’s appearance in Chapel is the absence of role models for young women. What some students might be failing to recognize is that there are actually more women (53) employed in the Upper School than males (32). Also, most notably is that the current Head of School is female. Deri Bash, Assistant Head of the Upper School, explained that he hopes that one day the community will get to the point where male students can look up to female students, which does bring up the point of a possible bias. Why can’t women look up to men? Why do role models have to be based on gender at all? A role model should be someone who is admirable, noteworthy, and a strong example of the changes we would like to see in ourselves. Where does gender fit into that at all?

What I urge students to turn their attention towards are the requirements.  Some people are opposed to the requirements because they believe such stipulations might create an “elite” group of OES students, and also because some people feel as though certain qualities that make someone a leader cannot be expressed on paper. Others believe the ambiguity of some of the requirements, for example, in good academic standing, is too open to interpretation.

Many other changes have been proposed by students without a formal proposal. For example, some feel that the height of secrecy that student council maintains is not appropriate. Others agree that the changes to the process should not come from people who do not vote, namely the administration.

One student said, “Women are capable people; they don’t need created positions to have any leadership.” “I don’t think it has anything to do with gender,” the student added. As for the 2012 election, some say girls have actually decided not to run because of the new proposal. It will be interesting to see what kind of an effect that boycott will have on the lineup of candidates.

Kara Tambellini emphasized the fact that the Faculty Leadership Board was not in complete unison on the proposal that was leaked recently on the Blophish. So the question is: how can we move forward in a structure where there is no “up or down vote”? Students must be responsible for submitting more proposals, which some students will inevitably find questionable. “It’s not our responsibility,” one student said, “to be responsible for the answer.” But if we, the students, cannot cough up something a little more appealing, there will be no other choice than to go with the flow in the 2013 election. Some believe that the proposal is “not addressing the root cause of the voter culture.”

-Janine K.

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