Closing Council Moderator Letter
With passing of Friday, I have now passed the gavel to our next Moderator, and with a final bang, the 2014-2015 Council year has come to a close. With the craziness of the past few weeks of planning the final Council transitional meetings and wrapping up business, this is one of the first chances I’ve gotten to set down and reflect on this year of Council, as well as my four years on Council as a whole. As sappy as it sounds, it’s very hard not to get emotional. Throughout my Council experience, I have been surrounded by many hardworking and inspiring individuals, and working with this year’s leadership: Max Greenwald, Tobias Reynolds, Ben Chaimberg, Henry Lang, Ethan Gorman, and Lynn Ceplikas; has been the cherry on top. I cannot say enough good things about these people, so I won’t take up an entire article doing so!
At the beginning of this year, Council’s goals were outlined as the triple A: being more active, accessible, and accountable. Reflecting on this year, I’ve seen elements of the AAA in many of the motions we have discussed. We started off the year getting rid of archaic wording in the handbook banning students from eating on the hallways with the goal of keeping our school’s rules up to date with daily practice. As always, we have a handful of fun, lighthearted motions, including Lilly Cadow’s intercom motion to have an inspiring quote to be read after the pledge on the intercom each morning.
However, we have also had a number of bigger, landmark motions passed as well. One involved changing the wording of the student dress code to make the language fairer and less focused on targeting women and their bodies as a “distraction”. This motion likely won’t change what people wear, but will hopefully change the way clothing choices are perceived.
Another motion that has gotten a lot of press this year is the condom motion, to introduce condoms into the nurses office free of chargee, for easily accessible student use. There were TV news interviews and newspaper articles for this one- likely because of its interest appeal to the broader community. However, the motion itself to bring condoms to the school was never the controversy it was made out to be in the media and more so a debate about how the condoms would exist in the nurses office. It’s exciting to see the motion pass through Council, Mr. Campbell, and now will be introduced for a first reading to the school board this week!
And even though motions like the political poster motion (referring to the Obama poster in the Pit) and the condom motion got the most out of school press, the most impactful motion that we passed this year, and the one I’m proudest of is the final passage by Council, Mr. Campbell and the board of the restorative justice policy to provide restorative justice as an alternative to traditional punishment when caught cheating. I think that this motion will directly impact the most students, and will leave a legacy long after we leave this school with the hope of promoting conversation and healing.
Going back to our goals, the “active” part this year was easy. With many motivated people on leadership and Council as a whole, I always found myself amidst a group chugging through agenda items, responding to Council related emails, and collaborating on how to deal with roadblocks along the way.
In terms of accessibility, the new and improved Council website allowed us to take a huge step forward. Ben and Max have done a fantastic job creating a well organized and comprehensive webpage for Council- complete with minutes from each meeting, and a list of current and previous motions, with voting records for each member, and motion wording only one click away. Do I think non-Council members use it enough? No. But is it an excellent resource, which I hope that new Council will continue to promote?
Accountability is the hardest one to measure, in my mind, because it references so many different aspects of Council. We’ve increased accountability for each member to their constituents by making attendance records for Council and committee meetings public, posting voting records on the bulletin board each week, and reminders to keep student, staff, and community member peers in mind when voting- not solely based of that person’s own opinion.
Finally, I am so humbled and honored to have been the Moderator of Council this year. The experience has been filled with stress, frustration, joy, and triumph all in equal measure to make for a memorable year. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from this year is that the “success” of Council isn’t determined by the number of motions we pass or the vetoes we override, but rather success is determined by the quality and balance of each and every discussion, both large and small. You know you’ve got something good going when an energetic discussion can take root on bylaw revisions.
Best of luck to the 2015-2016 Council, I’m excited to see the great things you accomplish! And HHS – you can’t complain about a problem if you don’t try to fix it.