Who represents Westhill students? One might say we have a student-run government whose purpose is to represent the interests of the student body. It is true that we have a student-run government with elected officers, but these governments are disjointed, as they each only represent one class, and they serve little purpose except to raise money and plan for prom.
Even the elections in which the students are chosen are poorly run. Look, for example, at each of the three elections that took place at the beginning of this year, and one will find problems with each. The sophomores elected a write-in candidate, some juniors voted for a president before the candidates finished their speeches, and the seniors now have co-presidents because of an error in voting (see page 3 for coverage of class elections). Moreover, multiple inappropriate lines in some of the candidates’ speeches and the audiences’ lighthearted reactions show the levity appropriated to student council at our school. These issues are reflective of the image that class government has at Westhill.
“Winning the election is only the first step, though some students see that as the big picture,” Senior Class Adviser Ms. O’Neill said.
In reality, however, there is very little “big picture” to class government because it has few leadership responsibilities.
For the purpose of this editorial, the word “government” is used for lack of a better term. For a government to work, it needs power, responsibility, and a reason to exist. Planning prom does not provide such a reason.
“[Student-run government] has no official name,” Principal Ms. Figluizzi said. “It’s supposed to be a governing body, but nobody has been able to get it off the ground in years.”
At other high schools, student governments are comprised of representatives from each grade. This student government not only raises money, but it promotes school spirit, encourages community service, coordinates efforts between student clubs and organizations, and helps determine and evaluate school policies. At many of these schools, students actually participate in meetings with the administration to voice the student perspective when important decisions are being made. These student governments are run according to constitutions and mission statements that Westhill’s current student government lacks.
Westhill’s current student government is comprised of four separate class governments, rather than one government with representatives from all grades.
The Westword proposes that in addition to maintaining class governments that promote school spirit, fundraise, and plan prom, a unified student government should represent all grades and act as a liason between students and faculty in order to bring the student body’s perspective to the administration and promote change on behalf of students.
According to Twelfth Grade Administrator Mr. Roberts, a student council should suggest and recommend ideas and changes to the administration. He believes that such a council should meet with Principal Ms. Figluizzi every other week.
“Student council should [consist of] representatives throughout the building [who] go to parent meetings and give input on how things are run,” Tenth Grade Administrator Ms. Nordin said.
Freshman Joe Aunce said, “I expect student government officers to listen to the student body, and allow others to have their opinion heard.”
In the 1990s, Westhill had a student government that filled all of these roles. In fact, two student government co-presidents served on the committee that chose Ms. Figluizzi as Westhill’s principal. The student government also founded the Freshman Activities Fair, came up with and executed the idea of putting national flags in the Media Center, came close to founding a student court, did voter registration, sat on district steering committees, conducted student surveys, relayed student concerns to the administration, and made presentations to the Board of Education. Most of these responsibilities are no longer associated with student
Perhaps the most noticeable positive action that Westhill’s class governments have taken in recent years was their involvement with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) training last year, where students and teachers planned an assembly for students to raise awareness regarding bullying and discussed sensitivity issues at Westhill. The momentum of change established by these class governments through the ADL training should not end there.
The creation of a school-wide student government will unify the entire Westhill community, but it can only come about when the entire Westhill community contributes to and believes in its creation. Many can be held accountable for the class government problems that we see today, but the priority should be fixing these problems. It is important that we look back on the positive actions of past student governments and at some of the problems with our current system, but change will only come to fruition when the entire community recognizes the need for a strong student governing body. Without a powerful student government, the students at Westhill cannot be