Lack of confidence in Student Council effectiveness foreshadows coming election

All-School+President+Ben+Cifu+talks+with+members+of+the+Black+Students%27+Association+at+a+Student+Council+meeting.

Miriam Bloom

All-School President Ben Cifu talks with members of the Black Students' Association at a Student Council meeting.

Nicky Edwards-Levin, Sports Editor

With the Student Council election in a few weeks, some students say they aren’t sure of the powers or effectiveness of the group though college admissions recognize the leadership role. Students will vote for current 9th, 10th and 11th graders May 1. Petitions to declare candidacy will be available April 9 and will be due on April 24 at 9 a.m.

Students in grades 9-11 will elect the All-School president and vice president, and the Cultural Union president and vice president. Each grade will also elect a president, vice president and two Cultural Union representatives.

Student Council candidates usually begin campaigning in the weeks leading up to the election, after submitting their petitions to Dean of Students Ana Campos. To have their campaigns approved, candidates must collect at least 20 signatures from their peers to run for a Cultural Union position, and at least 40 signatures to run for president or vice president.

While class leadership positions can be coveted among high-achieving students, many high schoolers do not regard Student Council with the importance it can be assumed to have. From 9th to 12th grade, students seem to think of Student Council not as an important governing body, but more as a party-planning committee.

Some students think that’s fine, but other students want to see more from their elected leaders.

Spencer McKula

“I guess their main job is planning dances,” sophomore Spencer McKula said, “but the main problems they should be dealing with are the local issues rather than the ones on a much larger scale that the administration can deal with. It just doesn’t seem like Student Council can get those big things done.”

Franzi Wild, a senior, thinks that Student Council should take on larger tasks, even if they only make some progress.

“I do expect them to be an advocate for the student voice,” Franzi said, “but it doesn’t feel as though StudCo is advocating for increased mental health services or finding ways to support students with mental health issues.”

Franzi also said that for Student Council to function at an effective level, members need to re

Franzi Wild

ach out to students actively.

“I wish StudCo spent more time reaching out to students and figuring out what and how they want to represented in order for them to be a more powerful advocate for student voice,” Franzi said.

This year, Student Council has focused on how to represent the student voice as well as they can, using digital suggestion boxes and student forums to collect information. But despite these efforts, student participation has remained low. 

I do expect them to be an advocate for the student voice, but it doesn’t feel as though StudCo is advocating for increased mental health services or finding ways to support students with mental health issues.”

— Franzi Wild

All-School President Ben Cifu said Student Council can take on larger changes if the student body is involved in the process. He said if the student body wants to see change, they have to meet Student Council half way.

“It’s up to people to voice concerns they have every once in a while. For a lot of things, you have to have students consider it, and that’s what we are trying to do with adjusting the climate at Lab — working with BSA, reaching out with other people — and if people are buying into that, then you have a good way forward,” Ben said.

Ben Cifu

While Student Council is regarded by many as simply a clause to add on a college application or job résumé, according to college counselor Melissa Warehall, the title of “Class President” is not as important to colleges as some believe.

“From a college’s perspective, if it’s meaningful for you to be a class leader — joining student government, serving your classmates, makes sense. But, it’s not ever going to make or break a college application,” Ms. Warehall said. “When they look at your activities list, they are trying to get a sense of who you are in their community, so if you have some leadership that you’ve done in student government, that’s great, but it’s not like they’re looking for something like that in particular.”

Nikhil Patel, co-editor-in-chief for the Midway, is involved in Student Council as Senior Class Vice President. He was not involved in the reporting or editing of this story.