Matt Milligan & Eric Valenti
On Monday, November 6th, SLA will be holding elections for student government for the first time since 2012.
SLA student government was formed back in September thanks to the efforts of several students. Dozens of students attended the early meetings, and Junior Bronwyn Goldschneider and Freshman Izzy Curtin volunteered to manage the elections committee. Advised by History Teacher Daniel Symonds, the group held meetings and was responsible for the whole organization behind SLA government.
Why have a student government now? Goldschneider believes that student representation is important to the school. Previous student governments did not last at SLA, but this group seeks to change that.
“Student leaders and representatives can bring order and cohesion to the school,” she explained. “SLA is largely based on students having the freedom to create, plan, and run their own events, so it makes sense to have elected leaders in charge of organizing these processes.”
For students to get involved with SLA government, they had to get a petition signed by their peers and then present it to the committee. Certain positions also required a minimum GPA of 3.5 along with involvement in SLA clubs.
The sole event that has occurred since the election has been announced was the presidential debate. In this the debate, which was filmed and sent out to advisories, presidential candidates and their running mates were given a platform to discuss their ideas for the school.
Junior Sara Berg, who is running for secretary, believes she and other candidates need more spotlight to share their ideas.
“It’s been a little bit messy because . . . they kind of were trying to plan stuff for other candidates, but nothing has happened yet.”
As far as campaigning goes, candidates are allowed to have posters around SLA supporting their campaign. Berg, as well as other students, have not seen many posters around SLA, and worry that students do not have enough information to decide who they should or should not vote for.
A few interviews with the general student body confirmed that suspicion.
“I know who is running for the most part . . . but I don’t really know what they stand for,” stated Junior Kimberly Gucciardi-Kriegh.
The election has not been without some dramatic shifts. On Halloween, Sophomore Mackenzie Hopkins dropped out of the race for vice president, causing presidential candidate Kwan Hopkins to pick a new running mate, Junior Shamus Keough.
The day after, November 1st, Sophomores Horace Ryan and Jade Gilliam dropped out of the race for president and vice president.
“I don’t know any of them personally so I don’t know why they dropped out. I guess it is probably stressful, especially for the president and vice president candidates because they definitely have been in the spotlight more than we have,” Berg said.
When asked about the somewhat chaotic process, Goldschneider comments, “It definitely hasn’t gone exactly as planned, but that’s okay in a way. It is difficult to know what will work and not work in an election if it has never happened before.”
Both students and staff have strong beliefs about student government and how it will affect the community that SLA has created.
“I think that starting a government is a difficult thing, and that all students should engage in a deep conversation about the merits of having a government before choosing to have an election,” Mr. Symonds stated.
To those ends, there is a non-binding question on the ballot asking students whether they think the creation of a government is even necessary.
Students have a slightly different opinion. While teachers cannot endorse any candidate in particular, students still believe that they should be helping the community to remain aware of their vote.
Gucciardi-Kriegh says that, “It seems very student run . . . I think he [Mr. Symonds] should encourage people to vote . . . In general, the teachers should be acknowledging that every vote matters.”
Junior Jack Sugrue said that “It should be a combined effort” and that advisories should spend more time helping students to understand the election.
“I think it would it make it a lot smoother and I also think that Mr. Symonds should help with that kind of awareness and getting the word out.”
The vote takes place during advisory, and the count will be open to the school community in the office once advisory ends.
What will happen when a winner is declared? That’s largely for the elected representatives to decide. At present, the organization is not promised any funding from the school, although some candidates have proposed demanding funds or raising money on their own.
As Goldschneider said, “We have no precedent for student government at SLA, so the first elected candidates will shape the impact that the government will have on the school.”