by Will Nash '20
I was sitting at lunch one day during announcements when Dr. Labaree stepped up to the microphone and announced that there would be a Student Council meeting during Office Hours in the Marriott Hall classroom next to his office. A student new to St. Albans who sat at my table leaned over to me and asked, “What’s Student Council?” His friend snickered, but to me, it was a reasonable question. Not a lot of people actually know who the Student Council is composed of, how it functions, and what it actually accomplishes—three questions I will attempt to answer in this article.
To his first question, the Student Council is composed of fifteen students: three students from the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes, five students from the senior class, and one student who lives in the St. Albans dormitory. In the spring, elections for the Student Council are held in each grade. In the week leading up to the election, boys are nominated by their peers or nominate themselves. Campaigning in the lead-up, however, is prohibited. Once the nomination process is complete, each nominee gives a speech to his entire grade, and at the conclusion of the speeches, his grade votes on all the nominees. Three students are elected from the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes, including two prefects and one Class President (the candidate who garners the most votes). Voting in the senior class happens a little differently: the five candidates who receive the most votes from the senior class then give speeches to the entire school. Then, the candidate with the most votes becomes the Head Prefect, followed by the Class President, then Class Vice President, then the two Senior Prefects, in order of how many votes each candidate receives. Finally, one Dorm Prefect is elected by the entire St. Albans dormitory. The two faculty representatives on the Student Council are Dr. Labaree, the Head of the Upper School, and Mr. Campbell, the student activities coordinator.
To his second question and third questions, the Student Council meets every Monday during Office Hours. There is no official agenda, allowing students to bring up any ideas or concerns that they themselves have or that they have heard from their classmates. In theory, each representative is a spokesperson for the people in his grade, so feel free to ask your representative to raise certain issues that you care about during meetings. A big initiative of this year’s Senior Prefects, led by Head Prefect Harry Grigorian, is to make sure everyone feels heard; to this end, the Student Council has created an email address (email@example.com) to which students can send their ideas which will then be discussed in meetings. The records of each meeting are released in each grade’s Facebook group, but a plan is in the works to start posting them around the school so that people without Facebook can follow what happens in meetings. Examples of topics of discussion include a possible St. Albans mixer this winter, the structural integrity of the Refectory floors, more General Tso’s, lowering Sam’s Bar prices, and planning for Diversity Day.
By far the most important job of the St. Albans Senior Prefects is their role on both the Honor and Discipline councils. All five Senior Prefects sit on the Honor Council, along with the Academic Dean, the Form Dean of the student in question, and two elected members of the faculty. Only the Form VI Head Prefect, Class President, and Class Vice President sit on the Discipline Council, along with the Academic Dean, the Form Dean, and two elected members of the faculty. The Honor Council adjudicates on violations of the Honor Code, while the Discipline Council adjudicates on all disciplinary cases that do not fall under the Honor Code. Both groups vote among themselves and then recommend a disciplinary measure to the head of the Upper School.
This is not a duty that the Senior Prefects take lightly: occasionally, they have to pass judgement on their peers and best friends. However, it is vital for the wellbeing of the school that students are allowed a say in all aspects of its functioning, including disciplinary proceedings.It is truly a testament to the high regard of the St. Albans faculty for the student body that student leaders sit on both committees.