Council Rejects Both Headphones in Public Spaces Motion and Plebiscite Motion – Council Update (10/17/2018)
Council took full advantage of the longer Council period this past week by discussing and voting on two major motions: the Headphones in Public Spaces Motion and the Plebiscite Motion.
The Headphones in Public Spaces Motion had been discussed for parts of each of the past three meetings, and so there was a feeling among members that this meeting’s conversation should be kept short. Sophomore Rep. Sage McGinley-Smith re-iterated the two main points of the opposition to the motion, which were that the motion would not address the real issue, that students in the pit don’t respect the reasonable requests of teachers, and that everything in the motion is already somehow written in the handbook and just has to be more strictly enforced. A lot of time having already been spent debating the motion, Council members felt there was nothing more to add so they decided to vote on the motion, which resulted in the motion failing.
The Plebiscite Motion was the other major motion on the agenda. The motion would give Council the ability to refer any vote to a public vote, in which all students, staff, and community members could vote. Sophomore Rep. Jonathan Li brought the motion and sophomore James Eiler accompanied the motion with an explosive authorship speech. In his speech, Eiler stated that having schoolwide votes would increase student body involvement in school politics, and would decrease the faulty use of power by Council. Eiler then asserted that if Council did not pass the motion, “it will demonstrate that council is nothing but an oligarchic body elected each year off of one speech, rather than the virtuous defender of student rights that it is portrayed to be.” He also argued that no students ever say Council has their best interest at heart, so a way to fix that would be passing the Plebiscite Motion. Eiler concluded by saying that any attacks on the motion were logically inconsistent and just served to show how Council greedily grabs power.
Sophomore Rep. Ellie Stannard was the first to respond to the authorship speech. She argued that the motion was problematic because being present for the debates in Council is very important and because Council can’t possibly compile an email list of everyone in Hanover and Norwich. Eiler responded by saying that an email list of anybody is better than an email list of nobody. Sophomore Rep. Daniel Bandler was one of the few Council members who seemed to somewhat approve of the motion, as he said this would just be adding another tool to Council’s shed, and reminded Council members that not all votes would need to go to a public vote.
Co-Treasurer Tessa Stewart argued that a lot of students don’t care about what is happening in Council, so these will just end up voting randomly, which would delegitimize any result. There was clear, overwhelming dissent within Council, and the this was evident as the motion failed by a large margin.
Immediately after the motion failed, Teacher Rep. Mr. Berube made a motion to reconsider a hasty vote. His reasoning was that this would be a foundational change in Council and should be further discussed. Teacher Rep. Ms. Ceplikas was the first to disagree, saying that the author of this motion should bring back a more comprehensive motion and Council should just let this version die. Freshman Rep. Alex Rockmore, one of the few members who voted in favor of the Plebiscite motion, spoke up in support of the motion to reconsider, saying that it was absurd that Council spent almost 3 meetings on a headphones motion yet only 10 minutes on the Plebiscite motion. Ultimately, Council members’ disapproval for the motion seemed to overrule any possible re-introduction of the motion as the motion to reconsider failed. After the vote, the meeting was adjourned.