One candidate files for all-school president

Junior Benjamin Cifu served as class president his sophomore and junior years. The following is an interview about his qualifications for all-school office. It was edited for grammar and length.

Audrey Matzke, Assistant Editor

Benjamin Cifu

Why do you think there’s only one candidate in the race?

One reason is that it’s typically juniors that run for the position, and I think over the course of last year, I’ve proved to my class that I dedicate a lot of time to Student Council, and I really care about working to make this school a good place. I think part of what’s reflected in that is no one else really felt like they wanted to dedicate the time that being all-school president requires, or that they thought that the value they had would be best served in other positions. A lot of people have great ideas about what to do to make our grade better, but I think part of it is that people felt that they could go to me and I would help work with them for any all-school issues, and that they have confidence that I would be able to fulfill the duties of all-school president well. I think it sort of just reflects that my grade trusts that I’ll be able to do a good job.

What is one substantive change you want to implement?

I want to get more student voice into decision making. Meeting with Mr. Beekmeyer, one thing he spoke about which really resonated with me is that on most decision-making processes in the high school, it’s appropriate for students to be informed of what’s going on and be involved in it. Working to ensure that for curriculum meetings, and for any schedule changes, and how we do homework and grading. Students should be a part of all of those discussions, and it shouldn’t just be the faculty coming to us for comment at the last minute. It should be that from the first step, students are involved and students can try and make a difference. Also, making sure there are also opportunities where people can submit comments, so that students who aren’t necessarily in leadership positions or don’t have time to set aside for these meetings are still able to be informed of what’s going on and have their voices heard. If we do that, that’s how we can make the best decisions at this school. We also need a better lost-and-found system. We have one in the Caf, but that needs to be organized. I’ll also try to get some shade on Jackman field for spectators, because if you go to a soccer game, you are in direct sunlight and it’s not that comfortable. If we’re trying to get more people to go to sporting events, these are some things that could really help.

Many students don’t see eye-to-eye with the administration. Why do you think that is?

I think there’s been eroding trust between the student body and the administration. With the exception of Ms. Campos, because I think she’s the administrator students seem to interact with the most, the administration can seem sort of distant. We don’t really see them in the halls that much, and there aren’t really many opportunities to interact. Also, students may feel that the administration has goals that aren’t aligned with theirs. I think the students have tried to make their wishes clear to the administration, but more students need to be involved in these conversations.

What are some examples of connections you’ve built between the admin and the student body?

During all-school council, I’ve been meeting with representatives from all different schools. With regards to issues around the school, I’ve had a lot of good discussions with Ms. Ahmed and Mr. Krewatch, which have sort of informed my knowledge of what other groups think about different issues. I’ve talked to a lot of teachers about homework, how they feel it should be changed, and how there’s a lot of variability from student to student in terms of time spent. For the switch to semesters, I think that was something that was handled poorly, and I think a lot of the people involved in this decision realized that in retrospect. Also, surrounding Mr. Bobo Jones’ firing, I talked with a lot of students to get a sense of what everyone thought about it. I helped draft the letter that Student Council sent to the Curriculum Committee suggesting how they could handle it better in the future. I try to be very friendly with a lot of teachers and administrators, and I think that’s been a two-way street.

What role does Student Council serve? What effect does the Student Council have on the student body?

Part of Student Council’s role is to put on events, but an all-school president should also make sure that students are being represented and have a voice in decision-making, as well as fight for keeping students informed. Student Council as a whole needs to make sure they’re advocating for all students. All Lab students need some form of representation, need some form of aide, and need a trusted adult. Student Council can’t solve these issues, but they can help by bringing these issues to the administration’s attention.