Cluster Council

Last week, students crowded into Lower Right to watch the Blue Key Head tryouts, a high-energy combination of blue paint, passionate love songs and pushups. Thirty-one students screamed and serenaded, each vying for one of the 10 coveted positions. But they were not the only ones on campus who have been trying for leadership positions lately. Eighteen Uppers campaigned for Student Council President, plastering their posters and videos all over campus and the internet; Eleven students applied for three time-consuming Drama Lab Producer roles. Clubs and organizations everywhere are choosing their future leaders, and the competition for recognition is fierce. Seniors nostalgically remember the stress of this tumultuous time of year. Juniors and Lowers watch this changing of the guard with curiosity, perhaps hoping to step into influential roles themselves one day. But for the Upper class, the time for accepting responsibility is now. Cluster Council elections took place this Wednesday. Uppers had the opportunity to run for Cluster President, Male and Female DC Representatives, Senior Representative, Social Functions Head and Day Student Representative. Based on the recent fervor for leadership, it would seem like students would jump at the chance for a leadership role. But this was not the case. By the time the deadline for platforms and signatures rolled around, many positions had no candidates or were uncontested. Cluster deans for every cluster except Pine Knoll sent out emails to their students alerting them of the situation. In WQN, no one had put their name forward for Male DC Representatives or Social Functions Head. Likewise, no students had come forward for Female DC Representatives or Senior Representative in Flagstaff. The Cluster Deans urged more students to run, granting extensions for platforms and signatures. Some students obliged, but the candidate pool remained fairly sparse. In Abbot Cluster, for example, every position except for female DC Representatives had only one candidate in the running. When only one person puts his or her name forward for a position, there is no election, no speech and no ballot. The people in the cluster lose their right to choose their representatives. The position goes to a student by default. Why aren’t students enthusiastic about these positions? For one thing, the roles are less public than Student Council or the Blue Key Heads. Also, the fact that there are five sets of Cluster Councils may make the positions seem less prestigious. Students rarely look beyond cluster munches and apparel when they think about Cluster Council. But the members are also responsible for large-scale cluster events, such as the WQN Fashion Show, the Flagstaff and Pine Knoll Halloween Dance, the WQS Casino Night and the Abbot Cabaret. The Cluster President and DC Representatives are particularly important because they have direct influence over the fate of Andover students who have broken school rules. A Cluster President and a DC Representative are present at every DC. Their job is to ensure a student perspective is taken into account in the discussions that determine the disciplinary response. They advise students, guiding them through the DC process. Ultimately, Cluster Presidents and DC Representatives play a role in deciding a peer’s fate. The positions have huge amounts of responsibility, but not enough prestige. Andover needs more people to run for Cluster Council next year, but it must first redefine the way students perceive the organization. Cluster positions such as President and DC Representatives should be given a more visible role in the school community. Simple things such as asking Cluster Officers to speak at ASM could accomplish this. More recognition might spark interest in the jobs and reinvigorate the elections. If this does not happen, Cluster Council may face an empty ballot next year.