Hoping to discuss how it can become more effective in the future and its role in the context of discussions happening around campus, Student Council invited the entire student body to attend Andover’s annual School Congress this past Monday. Despite its attempt to discuss current issues on campus, School Congress failed to provide a resolution to a problem that has been the subject of dinner conversations, class discussions, forums, debates, presentations and even our apparel: gender.
At the end of School Congress, a faculty member remarked that only three girls were on the podium to speak. This statement illustrated the lingering question on many students’ minds as they left Kemper regarding the relationship between gender and leadership at Andover. With all attention on the gender debate, campus discussions on gender and leadership have become inseparable. Nonetheless, School Congress failed to reach any concrete conclusions about how the gender problem should be resolved even when the solution is imperative at this stage in the discussion. In order to make Student Council effective in fulfilling its most basic role—representing the student voice—we need to, in the coming years, mandate gender quotas for both Co-Presidents and Class Representatives.
By transitioning into a Co-President model, the Student Council Review Committee had hoped of bringing more female represenation to Student Council after having only four female presidents in the past 40 years. When students elected yet another a male-male pair this March despite these measures, the question of equal access to leadership for both genders became imminent. It became clear that, when given a choice, students would still elect boys over girls. This inequitable access to leadership cannot stand.
While the new Co-Presidents were indeed elected by the student body, it remains true that only four out of fifteen members of Student Council are females. The problem does not lie in candidate pairs, but in voters who still believe that a pair of same sexes can represent the entire student body, as the past election has shown; consequently, they leave it up to Student Council to take the first step in helping these voters shift in their thought. Regardless of qualifications, Student Council cannot accurately represent the student body in gender, diversity of thought or perspective when the Co-President pair or any pair of the Class Representatives are of the same sex.
Just as five male Blue Keys Heads and five female Blue Key Heads and fifty male Blue Keys and fifty female Blue Keys are chosen in order to be role models for the school population, which is about 50-50 between the sexes, there must be one female Co-President and one male Co-President in Student Council to accurately represent the school population. In a post-gender world, we would get there on our own. Unfortunately, that is not the case and a structural change is necessary to instigate change. School Congress, F=E forums, FEMINIST shirts, speakers and the numerous other means students and faculty have tested are no longer enough. Moving forward, Student Council must create a gender mandate in order to accurately represent the entire school.