Council Welcomes New Candidates as Discussions on Snow Day Resolution and Co-Curricular Attendance Motion Continue – Council Update (3/20/18)

Council hopefuls crowded into the Chorus room last Wednesday as they secured their one-meeting attendance requirement to run for Council at the last moment. There were so many newbies that Moderator Seigne apologized for not knowing everyone’s name, as he prepared for the inevitably long speakers’ list to come.

Organizational Engineering Committee (OEC) Chair Ellie Stannard and PR officer Leila Trummel both reminded the body of the upcoming elections and the election requirements. Other notable reports included the Student Life Committee notice that a Winter Carnival tiebreaker will be held soon between the Seniors and Juniors, and the Curriculum Committee’s announcement that they will be working with the Social Studies department to greater integrate current events into the curriculum. A survey will be sent out by the committee in the coming weeks.

The debate on Jonathan Li’s snow day resolution then continued from the last Council meeting. The body almost entirely spoke in agreement of the message and ideas brought within the resolution, but disagreed with the form in which they were brought. Many thought that the wording was too strong to be received well by the administration, and Mr. Berube voiced the opinion that a resolution coming at this time just seems “reactionary” to a weird winter. Others spoke of the professionalism of the hardworking administrators behind the decisions, and the key hours of learning that are obtained, even on a shortened Wednesday. The motion failed when brought to a vote, with only two abstentions and Li himself was the only member who voted in favor.

The Co-Curricular Attendance Motion brought by Dory Psomas and Elizabeth Napier took up the vast majority of the Council meeting, as both wording and ideas were repeatedly examined and amended. Psomas and Napier’s goal, explained in their authorship speech, is to allow for easier co-curricular participation when a student’s arrival at school is hindered by “unpreventable circumstances”. During the question session, it was revealed that under the motion, a student would be allowed to participate in co-curriculars on the day of a delay even if they did not ever show up to school; this particular point was hotly contested later in the debate.

Tessa Stewart, a Junior Representative, was the first to speak on the issue and immediately voiced the largely-shared opinion that the wording of the motion needed to be more specific so that students could not use it to inexplicably skip class. Freshman Representative Alex Rockmore made the point that excused absences should also not result in after-school restrictions on delays, as they could be for the same reasons. Ms. Ceplikas immediately followed up with the view that the motion was unnecessary as the office already has protocols to deal with such circumstances, and that parents might unfairly use the excused absence piece to get their kids out of class for trivial things, such as brunch with their friends.

Elizabeth Napier brought forth an amendment based on Rockmore’s point, and stated that parents would never use it to get their kids out of class; several teachers audibly laughed, their experience guiding them to a different conclusion. A lengthy debate followed, including (among other things): Rockmore’s clarification that he was trying to make rules more strict (not less), Sophomore Rep. Li’s assertion of trust in the student body, several teachers voicing concern about Senior Skip day, and Soph. Rep Phipp’s declaration that blanket statements are dangerous. After a vote, the amendment failed.

Rockmore later introduced an amendment to change the motion to be valid for only the first two periods, but after a short debate in which the authors of the motion strongly cried out against the amendment, the motion failed.

As Council packed its backpacks, the motion was tabled until the authors of the motion can meet with the Dean of Students to discuss the specifics of the motion.

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