Student Council Votes Changes to Senior Reps, Cluster Presidents

On Monday evening, Student Council unanimously voted to reduce the number of Senior Representatives from five to three and to integrate Cluster Presidents into Student Council.

Effective for the 2013-2014 school year, Senior Representatives will be elected by the entire Senior Class, instead of by cluster. As their positions will not be cluster-specific, the Senior Representatives will remain on Student Council but not on Cluster Council.

MJ Engel ’13, Executive Secretary, said that one of the reasons for the proposal was that historically the Senior Representative position was undefined and had few responsibilities, making it difficult for Senior Representatives to be active members of Student Council.

In the current system, there are five Senior Representatives, one for each cluster. The representatives are elected by Seniors in their respective clusters. The role of the Senior Representative is to attend both Student Council and Cluster Council meetings. The Senior Representatives are in charge of communicating with and connecting the two organizations.

“We think that [the new] system will carve out a more specific role for [the Seniors on student council] and help them to complete their job more effectively. Senior Representatives will be a lot more about representing the Senior Class,” said Engel.

“Senior Representatives used to provide Student Council with the cluster perspective, but we thought a more efficient connection could be made with the Cluster Presidents, and then have three at large Senior Representatives,” added Hemang Kaul ’13, School President.

Communicating directly with Cluster Presidents will also increase the productiveness of Student Council, according to Kaul.

“The Senior Representatives will be attending to their class, and the Cluster Presidents will be able to provide cluster feedback more efficiently because they are somewhat more involved with the cluster day-to-day and in more contact with cluster deans,” said Kaul.

The initiative was proposed by the Student Council Review Committee, an ad hoc sub-committee of Student Government with the intention of assessing and remodeling Student Council. The Student Council Review Committee has met periodically throughout Winter Term and also proposed the new Co-President structure approved in January.

The committee is comprised of five students and five faculty members. Engel, Kaul, Samuel L. Green ’13, former Editor in Chief of The Phillipian, Junius Williams ’14, Upper Representative, and Tessa Peterson ’15, former Junior Representative, represent the student body on the committee. The faculty members on the committee are Jennifer Elliott, Dean of Abbot Cluster, Frank Tipton, Dean of West Quad North Cluster, Fernando Alonso, Advisor to Student Council, and Paul Murphy, Dean of Students. Becky Sykes, Associate Head of School, is an ex-officio member of the committee.

After discussing and crafting the idea in the Student Council Review Committee, Kaul made the proposal to Student Council on Monday night.

Peterson said that this change will create a tighter functioning team instead of a large group of assorted individuals. “Additionally, instead of allotting very few responsibilities to a large number of people, the new model will have fewer people sharing responsibilities,” she said.

This change was not driven by the Co-Presidential model, but was part of the same conversation to restructure the student council as a whole, according to Engel.