Instituting a democratic Student Council

TYLER ZSCHACH
ONLINE EDITOR

Last issue I professed my support for Student Council (StuCo), and called upon the administration to grant the council a stronger voice. I have been consistently taking up President Julian Nebreda’s (’13) open invitation to attend the meetings as a guest, familiarizing myself with the student government. I do still hold true to my convictions that I outlined in my previous piece: That the school would thrive if StuCo coupled with the administration as a partially equal decision maker. But StuCo needs to make some major reforms to its election system if it wants to establish themselves as a body who has the confidence of the students and the mutual respect of the administration. The position of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer need to be directly elected by the students they represent.

The sentiment currently expressed by the majority of StuCo is that the officer positions should be rewarded based on merit and should go to those who work the hardest and are most passionate about their place in StuCo. The prospective candidates make speeches to the council and the council subsequently votes for the new officers for the next calendar year.
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Despite this being a valid election process to elect a hardworking and dedicated candidate, it doesn’t allow StuCo to perform its primary duty. We cannot lose focus on what the StuCo is assembled to do, which is to accurately represent the vision and views of the student body. The merit of their work should still be a criteria for election, but the student body should be the ones distinguishing who best embodies the characteristics of a leader and who can best represent their interests. Current council members could back candidates they support. I have little doubt that the opinions of council members would be highly regarded when students go to check the ballot.

The simple truth is that although the election format may work and may suffice for a portion of the student body, the council does not have the confidence of a unified student body, and I fear it is because we are deprived of our voice in officer elections. I want StuCo to be great, and it can be, but a governing body that was not put in place by the will of the people is one that is illegitimate.

I think that the current officer body, headed by Nebreda, is doing a fantastic job with the foundation they have in leading and representing the student body. The election process would not be implemented because they are inadequate, but to act as safeguard for us in the future. My goal would be to turn StuCo into a true democratic society in which each student voice truly mattered. I am in no means suggesting we act in a violent rebellion against our current student government, but we should have the right to fair election and we must do something to obtain it.

Candidates for officer positions should be able to run on their record and ideas against anyone. If the student body feels that someone is the best candidate for the job, it can elect that member. Or, if they feel StuCo was largely ineffective in the previous calendar year, they can elect an outside candidate and go in another direction. Although it is a simple democracy, it will adequately fulfill the needs of the students to institute their own elected body.

I firmly believe that the only way to truly legitimize ASL’s StuCo is to make it a pure democracy. Currently our system resembles something not unlike the European Union’s bureaucracy, which is largely illegitimate in the sense that the European Commission President is not elected. The difference between the E.U. and ASL is that countries are threatening to leave the E.U., whereas we seem dead set on complacency. If we want a StuCo that is responsible, one that can be a major factor in decision making and can protect the interests of the students, we have to elect them democratically. The ball is in your court, outgoing President Nebreda.

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