Council Discusses Plebiscite Motion and Headphones in Public Spaces Motion – Council Update (9/26/18)

This past week’s Council meeting was filled with controversial motions, but it began with the standard leadership and committee reports. Moderator Colm Seigne began by addressing a suggestion to put the speaker’s list on the projector. Mod. Seigne said that he does not want to put the speaker’s list up on the screen because his goal is to get everyone speaking and involved, so sometimes he jumps around on the speaker’s list, and putting the list up on the screen would take away his ability to do this. Sophomore Rep. Jonathan Li gave the CPP report, saying that the committee is working on a possible foreign language requirement. After these reports, Council moved through some lesser items on the agenda, before moving on to the first major issue, the Freshman Off-Campus Motion.

The beginning of the Freshman Off-Campus Motion discussion was marked by Senior Rep. Mason Winter’s move to table the discussion until the next Council meeting. Rep. Winter argued that since Curriculum Committee is working on sending out a survey to parents about this motion, Council should wait for the survey results and in the meantime should address the other issues on the agenda. Despite strong resistance, the motion was tabled with a slight majority of Council voting to table the discussion. Council then moved on to the next item on the agenda, the Plebiscite Motion.

Sophomore Rep. Jonathan Li brought the Plebiscite Motion, which he explained would allow for all motions to be deferred to a public vote if Council chose to do so. Motions would then be voted on by all staff and community members with a simple majority needed to pass. Rep. Li explained that he had been told by many students that they feel their representatives have not done a good job representing their beliefs, and this motion would be a possible solution to this problem. Rep. Li then clarified that he had talked to approximately fifty students who felt this way. Sophomore Rep. Noah Phipps argued that the logistics of sending out voting forms to all community members and students would be incredibly difficult and problematic. However, before the conversation could continue, Assistant Moderator Romaney Granizo-MacKenzie said the conversation had to be cut short because there was no bylaw notification a week before the motion was brought. Notifications must be brought a week in advance of any bylaw revision. So, Council moved on to the final item on the agenda, the Headphones in Public Spaces Motion.

Mr. Haehnel brought this motion and explained that it would require students to wear headphones when listening to music in the atrium, cafeteria, and pit. Mr. Haehnel argued that “One person’s jam is another’s dam on a situation.” He followed this up by saying that headphones are a great gift to humanity and that students should not make decisions on what others hear by not wearing headphones. Mr. Haehnel also added that music often symbolizes hierarchy and territoriality in the school and thus works to exclude and not include. He also added the very important point that almost every conflict between students and teachers on hall duty is about music.

Sophomore Representative Tom Lyons began the conversation by asking about whether or not students would be allowed to play music on special occasions such as Winter Carnival, to which Mr. Haehnel replied that yes, music would be allowed on special occasions. Teacher Rep. Ms. Pogue added that she has hall patrol 7th period on Friday, and this is a constant struggle. She also said that when visitors come they see a party atmosphere and that when teachers ask for music to be turned down it is often turned right back up after the teacher who made the request turns their back. Senior Rep. Bobby Putnam followed this up by saying that he found this motion insulting and that he doesn’t think everyone should be punished for some people playing loud music.

Ms. Stevenson added that she is torn on this motion because it would be a great solution to preventing this conflict, but at the same time, the last thing she wants is for students to have isolated lives with everyone plugged into their devices. The meeting was then adjourned before any vote on the motion could be held.


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