Last Thursday, Jennifer Elliott, Dean of Abbot Cluster and incoming Dean of Students, sent an email to the student body proposing a Co-Presidency model for next year’s Cluster Presidents, citing an increased number of interested candidates and the success of our school Co-Presidents. While the announcement may have been lost in the excitement of our upcoming Co-Presidential elections, we should really start to consider Elliott’s proposal, as the role of Cluster President is a more intimate level of student government. I agree with Elliott: Cluster Co-Presidency would increase the productivity of Cluster Council and also diversify the voices heard during decision-making processes.
The phrase “two is better than one” really holds true when it comes to Co-Presidency at Andover. Considering how much our current Co-Presidents Rebecca Somer ’15 and David Gutierrez ’15 have accomplished together, I cannot even begin to imagine how a single person could do all of that on their own. A pair of students who already know one another and can work well together will definitely be more productive and have more ties to the community than just one president.
A Co-Presidency system for Cluster leadership would reap similar rewards. Adding a Co-President to each Cluster would increase efficiency and would also add an additional perspective to the decision-making process. Furthermore, interested students may be more likely to run if they can share the brunt of the work with a friend.
Another part of the reason the school adopted the Co-Presidency model was to encourage more female students to run. While historically, a female Cluster President is more common than a female student body President, it is still important to urge more girls to run in order to deconstruct the cultural and social stigma of women in leadership positions. A Co-Presidency is the first step to creating a campus that supports gender equality.
In addition, I hope this reorganization of Cluster leadership will eventually lead to more participation in student government as a whole. I envision the permanent establishment of an Andover Student Senate that would meet regularly and be an extension of the current Student Council. That way, more students could be represented in decisions that affect everyone on campus, and everyone involved with the Senate could hear the opinions of others. The Andover Student Senate would provide a committee that would create student leadership positions that would efficiently solve problems of concern.
In the end, the change to a Cluster Co-President model would boast both productivity and creativity within all Clusters. A co-presidency will allow another capable student to help manage our school, as well as combat gender stereotypes.