Student Council Speaks Up

Student Council is an ineffective body. No one cares about it because it accomplishes little if anything at all. Elected officers from every class and cluster meet each week to do… nothing. Or, at least, that’s what almost half of the student body believes. According to The Phillipian’s State of the Academy Survey, 47.9 percent of the student population believes that Student Council is not an effective representative body. So, how many of those people took the time to voice a complaint to the Council? How many have offered a suggestion that Student Council blatantly ignored? How many took the time to attend a meeting before declaring that “nothing ever gets done”? Maybe the irony here requires no further explanation. And it’s not as if students have no way to contact their representatives. Student Council President Teddy Collins ’08 and Vice President Jonathan Adler ’08 set up a Student Council email address in the fall,, which has received zero responses (not counting Adler’s pranks). Few have ever showed up to meet with Collins during his Student Council office hours in the library every other Sunday, and few people outside the Council have ever showed up to a meeting. Meetings are open to the community, by the way, every Sunday at 6:30 in the Trustees Room, on the 3rd floor of GW. Perhaps students feel there is no need to voice any complaints because they think Phillips Academy is perfect and requires no change. So why not abolish Student Council all together? Students could skip the tedious routine of presidential campaigns, speeches, and voting. Class parties could be organized by the PSPA instead of by students. All-School Meetings could be opened and closed by members of the administration, as they were before last term, with few student faces ever reaching the stage. Why not abolish student-faculty dinners, un-renovate GW, give up pressing for downtown discounts, and forget about applying for biannual Abbot grants to benefit the student body? A message could be sent to the Stearns dorm to tell the guys there that the online sign-in test drive this week has been cancelled because Student Council has kicked the bucket. Who cares about a one-card key system anyway? We could tell the technology board to forget about it, because we’ve given up. But watch out, because when you’re distressed about the Grasshopper Night ticket lottery next year, you’ll be on your own. If the administration ever passes an unpopular new rule or policy, individuals will have to voice their dissatisfaction one by one. And this predominantly student community will be run entirely by adults. My point is, yes, Student Council members actually put in a lot of work every week to promote positive changes, and they rarely, if ever, ignore students’ proposals. Projects such as online sign-in and the one-card system take a long time to happen, and immediate results are impossible. Furthermore, there are changes students cannot necessarily see; by meeting with faculty and administrators such as Ms. Edwards, Mr. Hoyt and Mrs. Sykes, the council has shared student opinions in discussions about the PACE program, the selection of a new dean of students, honesty and ASM. We have a great school that values the student voice. The Council, an important part of the Andover tradition, serves as a crucial link between students and the administration, a link that we should not forsake. Student Council must work to better communicate its role through The Phillipian and PAnet. In the meantime, before you write off Student Council as an ineffective representative body in next year’s State of the Academy survey, take the time to find out what it’s all about. We’ll be in the Trustees room every Sunday. Feel free to stop by and say hello. Eric Sirakian is a Lower Representative on Student Council.