by Simon Palmore '19
It is easy to be starry-eyed and idealistic about governments. We can easily demand that our nation’s government protect us from all crime, or take care of us into old age, or finance our business ventures. But we know from living in real life that these things don’t come easily. Governing is difficult. And we know governing is difficult. That’s why, with a few exceptions, we search for the political candidates with the most experience; we desire representatives who can best navigate the complicated and bureaucratic systems in order to deliver the best results. But despite this knowledge, we demand perfection and quick results.
The same principles are true for student government. More specifically, the St. Albans Student Council. As the current Senior Class President, I write from a position of bias. It is for similar reasons that I write in the first person: over the years I have learned student government inside and out. This, then, is not a piece of journalism. It’s a personal analysis of imagination and execution.
If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that most ideas are easy and most results are hard. Every student at St. Albans and NCS has ideas for their respective student governments. Common ideas at St. Albans include improved lunches, the permission of cell phone usage in the Bradley Commons, and a mixer. While these three ideas are perhaps the most notable, there are dozens of smaller ones that people suggest: these range from ridiculous, to random, to really great ideas. And Student Council members love to hear suggestions. Personally, my iPhone memo app is full of to-do lists, and these lists are how we fill our meetings.
While it might be difficult to think of great and original ideas, it is certainly easy to think of bad ideas. One memorable one was replacing Diversity Forum with a Close-wide game of capture-the-flag. And as a young Student Council representative, I was often caught up in the dreaming. Like many of my classmates, I had various ideas about how the Student Council works. How it actually works, I came to realize, is quite different from the common perception. Things go very slowly at St. Albans. There are always more layers of bureaucracy to swim through. Even ideas that are approved by all the right administrators often get lost in the sauce.
I hope I’ve established clearly enough the various obstacles that the Student Council faces: a deluge of ideas, some good and some bad, misconceptions about how everything works, and endless bureaucracy. I will now take the time to highlight the things we’ve accomplished despite the roadblocks. School lunches are more diverse (chicken and rice only once in a while) and tastier than they have been in years. A lost-and-found has replaced the previous, asystematic protocol for lost items. The cell phone policy, while still not perfect (we’re working on it), has been updated since the Dark Ages when it was originally written. And finally, the Structural Engineering Committee successfully averted a collapse of the Refectory floor during the Homecoming dance. None of these accomplishments have come easily. Every idea must jump through various hoops, some on fire, to become an actual initiative.
Student governments, as the name might suggest, are composed of students. We want what you want. We want a mixer. We want to use cellphones in the SkyLounge. We don’t want to bankrupt our families just to buy a KitKat at Sam’s Bar. But while we share these sentiments, we live with the realities of student government. So be patient with us. We’ve made many improvements, and more are on the way. First, though, we have some hoops to jump through.