So How Do We Fix Student Council?

Jack Tupper, Staff Writer

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The Student Council is Linn-Mar’s version of a student government and often ends up getting the short end of the stick. When talking about a student government within a school, many would assume there are three main encompassing parts to the organization. The first being that the organization would have a direct line to the administration, the second being that the organization fields the opinion of the entire student body, and the third being that the organization is able to make a noticeable difference at and around the school. Arguably, Student Council currently meets none of these three criteria. This raises the question, what is Student Council if not a student government? In its current stage, Student Council is nothing more than a resume-boosting puppet, frolicking along past any fixable problems.

With any student government, for the students to be able to make any sort of changes or programs, they have to first run it by the administration. This is logical, as the administration does not want the school to devolve into anarchy. The problem does not lie in having to go through the administration, the problem lies in the lack of communication throughout the council. Both the administration and the Student Council struggle to maintain a solid line of communication to be as transparent as possible and to voice the opinions of the student body. With a lack of communication from the administration, it becomes hard to know where the line is drawn for programs, funding and school policies. With a lack of communication from the council, it becomes hard for the administration to understand why activities and programs are run the way they are and why the Student Council has such a loose grip on everything. This lack of communication derives from both sides. This is not to say that either groups of people are unable to be contacted. This is to say that the current method of communication that the Student Council has set up with the administration is far from sufficient and serves to cripple the flow of work that could be pumped out of a student government.

For the Student Council to make valid, wanted changes to the school, the opinion of the student body is required. However, in the last 24 months, the collective opinion of the students was gathered once. This fails to mention that this one attempt only garnered opinions from about an eighth of the students at the high school and that it was conducted on a non-Student Council social media. While it can be hard to get the majority of a high school to vote on an issue, an attempt has to be made for that to happen in the first place. The ability to get the opinions of the student body is readily available. Whether it be putting a QR code on LMTV or hanging flyers or tweeting about it, the options to gather the opinions of voters is there. This is not a major underlying problem and has an easy remedy. The real problem is in the lack of action that the Student Council can take.

The Student Council is known for one single thing: school dances. They set up the dances and any other related activities and tear them down. As far as the general population of the student body is concerned, that is all they do. Oh, and those fancy stained windows, they did that too. This problem is due to a lack of power given by the administration and a lack of ambition by the Student Council. The council was put on a tight leash and has settled in its spot in the school, refusing to tug at its restraint. They don’t look for the ability to make a bigger impact because they have grown content with the dance setups and the Homecoming week festivities. The administration reasonably doesn’t want to let the council run wild and do whatever they deem fit. However, there is a clear middle ground here. The way the current system is set up, the Council is so discouraged to make an effort that they sit on somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000, as a lowball estimate, with nothing to dump the money or effort into. Other clubs are not made aware of this so the Student Council receives no requests for financial support. If the administration placed some higher level of trust with the Council, and the Council proved to be able to make an impact, there would be no issue. This would require change from both sides that we simply won’t see. The Council will continue to be content with the little effort, the work and the mountain of money while the administration will continue to keep the leash tight.

So where does this leave us? We have a broken system that would require quite a bit of effort to fix, an administration that doesn’t want to loosen the reins, and a resume-boosting club that has become ineffectual. The Student Council is shrouded in infamy and mystery, since what little work is done within Student Council is kept hush-hush, and work on the dances continues as always. It has a reputation of pointlessness, both inside and outside of the club, and has earned little more than that. The administration cares little about the dances, and by proxy, cares little about the workings of the dance club Student Council. If the Student Council wants to be seen as a legitimate club that makes an impact, then work needs to be put into establishing a strong connection with the administration. The Council also needs to be able to field student opinions in a proper manner and to allow for a more open discussion about what the school needs and how the Student Council can help reach that goal. The current situation helps no one and hurts the Student Council. As it currently stands, Student Council is nothing more than a dance club.