A Hollow Institution

The mixture of stress and euphoria that accompanies the end of the school year is almost upon us, and part of that spring turmoil is student elections. 15 rising uppers and dozens of student-politicians in other grades have collected their signatures and written their platforms to run for class representative. Most of us will go and vote for our friends. Some of us will vote for who we think can best execute their campaign claims of bringing about change, representing our class proudly and acting as an intermediary between the school and the students. Despite their repeated use, these claims seem to be hollow campaign ploys. In reality, the student government does not serve a purpose large enough to justify its size and ostensible importance. Based on the campaigns run by both the presidential candidates in the winter and the potential class representatives now, it appears that they want to bring about change in the way the school is run, act as a means of communication between the administration and students and promote unity through class activities or merchandise. Change has simply not happened on anything more than the superficial level. Even the oft used “fix the change machines” slogan, in which the insignificant change machine is supposed to be synecdoche for larger problems, has yet to be fulfilled. This is an almost humorous embodiment of the failure to truly change the things people want amended, such as All-School Meetings, dances, athletics, dorm organization and dorm life, among many others. The role of intermediary between the students and the administration in this day and age is almost passé. At some point in time, when corporal punishment was still commonplace and students still referred to their teachers as “Sir,” I am sure it was a daunting task to try to present your thoughts to the administration. In that scenario, having an elected official to do this made perfect sense. But now, having your idea seen by the administration is as simple as sending an email to Mr. Murphy, putting a petition in a faculty mailbox or approaching someone at Commons. Communication between faculty and students is so easy that using an elected liaison is unnecessary and cumbersome. One thing our class representatives have undoubtedly done is try to arrange class events and apparel. Although I cannot speak for other classes, 2012’s events tend to be very poorly attended, and the long attempts at procuring class apparel have been fruitless. With all the inter-grade fraternizing that occurs, making a deliberate effort to bond as a class is not something that people want to do, with the notable exception of the Senior class. To be frank, the only student position that really seems to matter is the Student Council president. The president is the representative of every student; the poster-child for the school. We need someone to give speeches, tell jokes, go to events and guide us from the beginning of school through graduation each year. However, that is a job for one person, and being a class representative puts people in the forefront of the presidential race. Coming in second or third in that race just gives you something to put on your college application. I would like to see a Student Council that is smaller and that is more useful with our time. I no longer want to be required to sit through all class meetings that have all the useful content of a 300 word email, and I no longer want to spend time or energy on class merchandising or parties prior to Senior year. I don?t want to see funding wasted on trips and parties while real problems, like the change machine, go unsolved. I think students should change the school by focusing on their goal, not by focusing on being elected. I think that the future candidates for school president should build their merits by doing something productive for their school, rather than spewing out superficial campaign promises and winning popularity contests to be become class representatives. Student Government can and should operate in a way that is necessary, effective and beneficial to the student body, but as of right now it does not. Derek Farquhar is a two-year Lower from Andover, MA.