WPAA Hosts Second Presidential Debate; Final Three Candidates Discuss Cooperation, Gender in Politics and All-School Meetings

The “debate” between the final three Student Council presidential candidates, which took place on April Fool’s Day, misled the Andover community, as it was not so much competitive as collaborative.? “I think that classifying it as a debate is a little bit difficult because we’re not running against each other anymore; we’re running with each other. Nobody’s going to be eliminated, we’re all going to be working together next year,” said William Thompson-Butler ’09, now Vice President-elect.?? The debate was “a last minute thing. We didn’t even know it was today until yesterday,” said the debate moderator Jack Dickey ’09, News Director of The Phillipian, on Tuesday. The discussion, which covered topics from the role of gender in student politics to the role of humor in speeches, was aired on WPAA the night before the All-School Meeting speeches.?? Thompson-Butler emphasized teamwork through the debate. “The sooner we start working together, the sooner we can start getting things done. Instead of arguing, a common thing I saw tonight was people melding their speeches so that they were in agreement with the other candidates’ speeches but also expressing their individual opinions,” he said.?? He continued, “We’re all taking our diverse experiences…[and] bridging the gap from our platforms. That’s going to make working together in office a lot easier.” New Executive Secretary Lawrence Dai ’09 said, “[The debate] was unexpected, but that’s part of our job, since we’re prospective candidates – to be on our feet and to be prepared. Anything that will help people know what we’re about.” Malin Adams ’09, who won Wednesday’s election, said, “51 percent of students at Phillips Academy believe that student council is not effective… The only way you can improve that image of Student Council is to actually reach out to students.” “The three of us make up a wide spread of the school, so hopefully we will extend next year beyond our friends and beyond the student council to get a better idea of what the students need and want…by reaching out and becoming more public,”?? he continued. Thompson-Butler said that one thing he would like to change about Phillips Academy is the school’s competitive environment. “[Phillips Academy] has to be [competitive], and that’s healthy. But I would try to get the faculty to allow more collaboration between students, and I don’t think it would compromise the academic atmosphere because you’re not going to be, hopefully, working alone all your life. They’re really strict on that. I think it would be a better environment.”?? Adams said he has been working to obtain online overnight slips for boarders.?? “I’ve talked with Ms. Roman, the Head of Technology. I’ve talked with Cluster Deans. All three of us can work together to make [online overnight slips] happen. I just thought it would be easier and something quite feasible in the next year. It’s really a pretty simple thing,” he said.??“[Currently] when parents call the school to find out if their student is off campus, at this point you just have a pile of 200 pieces of paper. It’s outdated, obviously that goes towards sustainability,” Adams continued??. Dai, like the other two candidates, talked about increasing student input in Student Council decisions.?? He said, “The thing I’m concerned about it is the exclusiveness of Student Council. You can’t write a note, if you don’t have time to attend a meeting. If we’re not accessible, then what is the point of existing?” Dai specifically mentioned student input in All-School Meeting selections. “That’s an issue of more student body interaction with the Student Council and working directly with Carlos Hoyt [Associate Dean of Students].”?? Dickey then referred to a recent Phillipian commentary article about the homogeneity of All School Meeting speakers, which said that All-School Meetings are all about either sustainability or human rights. Dai said that successful speakers tend to address topics pertinent to our day-to-day lives, such as Harvard professor Shawn Achor who spoke about happiness, Dr. James Maas, and successful alumni. Dai said, “It seems like it went well. A lot of topics were covered. I’m proud of my fellow candidates and myself… Jack did a great job of bringing up great things that none of us had thought about… When you’re put on the spot like that, it’s a learning process… These are things that we’ll be dealing with next year… just the new issues, realizing that they do exist.” When asked about how the three candidates will compensate for all being male, a trend in student government at Phillips Academy, Adams said, “Through communication, I think it doesn’t matter if we’re male or female.” Dai said, “If we want to see more females on student council… I think that requires a cultural shift…. That’s up to the students.” Thompson-Butler said, “I think it represents a trend within the U.S…. A lot of people have a problem with that, and I think that’s completely appropriate… Andover is a good example. Lots of the girls here are as smart or smarter than me… and could probably beat me up.” Adams said, “It was a good chance for the three final candidates to sit down and talk… I began to get excited to work with them next year. I’m looking forward to having two other people I can rely on to get things done… The most important thing that I realized is that we all really want to increase communication with the student body.”