Be the change you want to see on campus

With frequent changes happening in the Upper School, how can students get their voices heard? Senior Ellie Lowe's Opinion piece dives into the issue of ownership on campus.

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Be the change you want to see on campus

Ellie Lowe

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The following article was submitted to The Gauntlet by senior Ellie Lowe, a member of the Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School student body. It does not necessarily represent the opinions of  The Gauntlet or Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School.

This year there have been many changes in the Upper School: the switch in lunch program providers, prohibiting AirPods in the halls, a new sign-out system for Study Out, the revoking of senior parking privileges, elimination of Reading Day, and adding a cellphone-free week. 

Whether or not you agree with these moves, everyone wants to have a say so they feel included in the changes happening in their lives. So how do students get their voices heard by those in power? Is there a way that students can enter into the decision making process, strengthening the relationship with the administration? The answer is yes.

As students, we can get frustrated when changes are made without someone asking for our input. Especially when we don’t hear about changes until they’ve already been made.  But it looks like we, the students, bear some responsibility.

Every year, as students of the Upper School, we elect student representatives to Student Council to, according to the Upper School Student Council Constitution, strengthen student relations with faculty and administration, encourage citizenship and leadership, and maintain the general welfare of the student body. In other words, they are the liaison between students and administration.

I spoke to Student Council President Ashleigh Rodhouse about how often the Student Council meets with Mr. Forrester, the Upper School Director. According to Rodhouse, there are no set meetings. They only meet to get something approved or when Mr. Forrester has something for the Student Council to do, and it’s not always a meeting, so much as a one-on-one conversation.

I was surprised to hear this because in the Constitution under Article III Section 4, it says that the StuCo Executive Board should meet with the Upper School Director a minimum of once per month during the school year to provide a time for students and administration to discuss possible changes to the Upper School. By not holding regular meetings, we lose opportunities to be heard. But it’s not all the Student Council’s fault. We, the students, need to show up too.

When speaking with Mr. Hoonhout, the faculty advisor of the Student Council, he informed me that all students are welcome to attend the weekly Student Council meetings (which occur every Tuesday at lunch). This means we have a chance to speak to our representatives and inform them of our opinions and concerns, which they could potentially relay to the administration.

But when I asked Rodhouse how often students outside of Student Council attend meetings, she said: “Not often at all.”

I think the best way for our voices to be heard is to focus on everyone communicating with each other. To begin with, the Student Council should start by reinstating monthly meetings with Mr. Forrester, where they discuss potential changes and directions for the Upper School. The Student Council then needs help to inform the students of these potential changes. Furthermore, we as students need to attend Student Council meetings or seek out our student representatives when we have a problem instead of complaining. All of this would help to strengthen the relationship between the students, the administration, and faculty.

Although it is easier for us to complain to our friends, teachers, and anyone who will listen, the truth is if we want changes in the Upper School we have to work together and be involved. Like Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

So go out there and do it.

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