Leadership Discussed at School Congress

In place of a weekly faculty meeting, over 90 students joined faculty to discuss student leadership on campus during this year’s School Congress on Monday night. This year marks the first School Congress that was open to all students. Previously, the event was open only to a smaller group of designated campus leaders.

Students and faculty were broken up into eight, randomly organized groups in Samuel Phillips Hall before reconvening in Kemper Auditorium . The groups discussed creating equitable representation, formalization of leadership in the classroom, the role of student government in developing leaders, mechanisms for developing student leadership and defining student leadership.

Following these initial discussions, students and faculty gathered in Kemper Auditorium for the second half of the event, where the Student Council discussion leaders from each group compiled their notes on the discussion, and then presented them to the audience.

One of the main points discussed during the event was how a there is a small set of students who accumulate a substantial number of leadership positions around campus.

“Acquiring these positions is almost like an arms race,” said Junius Williams ’14, Upper Representative and Co-President-elect.

“Alex Tamkin [’14] said that ‘Andover can sort of feel like Hungry Hungry Hippos.’ It’s true in that people are constantly vying for these board positions,” Williams continued.

Rolando Bonachea ’13, Student Body Vice President, noted that in his group, Jerry Hagler, Instructor and Chair in Biology, talked about how some students in board positions aren’t held accountable once appointed.

Williams expressed student anxiety over whether hoarding of leadership positions would actually prepare someone for the real world or simply make them lose sleep.

MJ Engel ’13, Execuiuve Secretary, mentioned how the possibility of limiting the number of leadership positions a student can hold might help in that situation.

“We talked about sharing the wealth, and whether or not leadership positions are evenly distributed between students…Maybe it should be the duty of faculty and students to take the amount of positions into consideration,” said Engel.

“The question is how we go about recognizing these leaders, especially in the case of college admissions. These unsung leaders don’t have anywhere to write on their resume ‘unsung leader.’” said Theodore Perez ‘16, Junior Representative.

He later explained that in some ways, these leaders are recognized in the Andover community, as seen through the Facebook groups “Faces of Andover” and “PA Compliments,” both of which highlight some lesser-known leaders on campus.

Co-President-elect Clark Perkins ‘14 made the point that everybody is a leader in their own way, and that leadership isn’t strictly confined to board positions on clubs.

“Everyone at Andover has leadership capabilities. We are all leaders in one sense or [another in] something we do here at Andover. We are all leaders in our own right,” said Perkins.

“Students talked about board positions throughout our discussion, and we realized that we should steer clear of this idea, and more towards the notion that leaders are role models on campus. You don’t need to have board positions to be a leader on campus,” said Remington Remmel ’14, Upper Representative.

Another issue raised was the mechanisms through which leadership is introduced and implemented around campus, and more specifically, how the Prefect position is the model mechanism in introducing leadership.

Student Body President Hemang Kaul ’13 and Lower Representative Arthur Doran ’15 talked specifically about the difference between Andover’s Blue Key Society and prefecting positions as examples of leadership.

“Prefects are probably the most effective form of mentorship on campus because they are someone that you always go back to: they’re someone who is a part a student’s daily lives. Whereas the Blue Keys are only there as a first friend and older friend who only connects with the student for the first week of orientation,” said Kaul.

“Proctors and Prefects are large influences not only on the more concrete leadership roles, suggesting what clubs they should joining, but also how they should conduct themselves in social spheres,” said Meghan Haugh ‘13, Senior Representative.

According to the School Congress handout, the goal of the event was to “encourage discussion between both faculty and students hoping to come to meaningful conclusions.”