Reham Ahmed, ’16
We all know what the Student Union (SU) is, but what does it mean to the students who run it? To Madison Fernandez, a 9th grade SU representative, the SU is “a way for students to communicate their ideas in a way where they are comfortable sharing with their peers.” For Liana Van Nostrand, a 10th grade rep, the SU “should be a place where students of all grades can voice concerns. The most important part is that the rest of the Student Union, in conjunction with the administration, can actually think of and put in place a solution.” As for Allie Gumas, a Y2 rep, the SU is “a way for students to bring up issues that affect the student body as a whole. It’s a productive way of venting.” All in all, the SU is a valuable BHSEC resource that all students and even teachers need to take complete and utter advantage of!
The SU reps have met only twice so far, but students want to know what has been happening in the meetings so far. The SU meetings take place once a month (usually at the end of each month). The last meeting was on Monday, October 28th and some bylaws were discussed. Bylaws are laws established to help regulate and settle a specific group or organization. According to Liana, one of the bylaws that needed to be settled was the act of voting. “The SU voted not to have anonymous elections,” she said. In that meeting, the SU reps also tried to figure out major issues with last year’s meetings, with the hopes of increasing productivity this year, “since there wasn’t much structure last year”, according to Allie.
After discussing the bylaws, Madison said that the SU “also touched upon [the] yearbook, but due to time, [they] didn’t have much discussion on how to better the yearbook committee this year.” The yearbook committee is a pressing issue this year and the SU is on its path to find a way to strengthen it. The meetings to discuss these issues haven’t happened yet, since the SU reps are still settling in and trying to formulate their bylaws, but according to Liana, “a few sub-committees were formed. One [subcommittee] to make sure the yearbook happens, and another [subcommittee] to see if anything could remedy the loss the school suffered by losing the Math Center. I believe their goal was to see if there were alternatives, like a peer tutoring system that could be put in place”. The loss of the Math Center and Dr. Rosenbaum is definitely a pressing issue for all grades that has affected students dramatically. Hopefully the Math Center and Dr. Rosenbaum will be up and running by next semester, but before that would be nice as well!
Many of the SU reps feel that their fellow students are not taking advantage of the SU and the fact that the SU is there for students to voice their concerns. Madison says, “Some of my peers actually come up to me and ask me to bring points up for them, and other times I mention what I see is going on in my grade.” Maybe these 9th graders are a bit shy to speak up! But, Liana says, “I haven’t had many students approach me about issues. I usually have to go around and ask. Once I do, people have a lot to say.” This is a serious issue. The SU reps are in their positions because they want to help students voice their concerns and find ways to resolve such conflicts. They can’t just base their meetings on issues they witness rather than issues addressed, because the reps can be very oblivious to some serious issues floating around the school. It seems, though, that Y2’s have realized the benefits of the SU and approach the reps more than the 9th and 10th graders. According to Allie, “my peers are very comfortable with bringing me their issues”.
Liana, like many other SU reps, says, “I always try to steer clear of basing the comments I make on my own opinion. The job of the rep is to hear what everyone in the grade has to say. I just try to ask as many people as I can in the days leading up to the meeting… ” There are a ton of issues facing the BHSEC community and it is the responsibility of the student body to report such issues and to follow through until they are resolved. The SU reps love their jobs – and they don’t bite! Their role is to address conflicts, to speak on behalf of the entire BHSEC community, and to try their best to resolve such conflicts. Allie, for example, “love[s] having a voice in the meetings, and being a part in getting [her] grade what they want.” Madison “definitely feel[s] honored to be in the Student Union.” “It feels good to be able to cultivate a place to share ideas, especially for ninth graders,” she says, “considering [they’re] new to the school.” The moral of the story is, “Take advantage of the resources you have,” as Liana says, and don’t be shy to approach the SU reps about any matter that needs to be addressed.