Student body fails to recognize the Community Council’s work

Student body fails to recognize the Community Council’s work

“The Community Council (CC) does nothing.” “The CC is a joke.” “Abolish the CC.” We have heard these kinds of comments many times throughout the three years we have spent on the CC. For a while, we would simply laugh them off. However, we have begun to make a conscious effort to voice our frustrations with the student body when these statements arise. It is certainly reasonable for the student body to feel this way. After all, the CC has not yet found a way to convince the administration to build a ShakeShack on campus or reduce the student workload to zero, both of which have been requested by students. But, the CC undertakes plenty of initiatives that are both valuable and important. The only problem: the student body does not take advantage of them and will comment regardless.

During our freshman year, we decided to run for CC because we had ideas to make a positive impact on the community. We did not expect to execute a grand overhaul of school policy or make extreme promises that we knew were impossible. We ran because we had fun and doable ideas that we thought the student body would enjoy. 

During our time on the CC, we discovered that the student body limits what we can do, even more so than the administration. Any elected group is inherently empowered by those that elect them. Consequently, if the student body does not want to engage with the CC and our initiatives, then there is a limit to what we can do for the community in return. 

The most stark example of the disconnect between the CC and the student body was the Alumni Series event, which took place in February and featured Founder and President of Students 4 Carbon Dividends Alex Posner ‘13. Posner spoke to three history and science classes during the school day, in addition to giving a presentation open to all students during I period. This event did not materialize with the click of a button. It was the result of a long process that required a great deal of patience and engagement on our end. We had to juggle over 20 emails between ourselves, school faculty, and Posner. The bottom line: this event required effort and sacrifice on our part, which we were willing to put in for the benefit of the community.

From what we see on Instagram and hear in class discussions, climate change is ostensibly an important issue to the HM community. So, from our perspective, Posner seemed like the perfect fit and exactly who the student body would want to hear from. In other words, we provided the community with the opportunity to “put their money where their mouth was” when it came to climate change advocacy. 

That is why it was so disheartening to see seven people show up to the event, four of which were members of the CC and one who was the Record photographer assigned to the event. This occurred despite us sending multiple emails to the student body and tirelessly marketing the event to our peers. We understand that students are busy; however, the excuse of “I have a lot of tests” is not the most effective considering we all do, including the CC members who put the event together.

We know that you did not miss the event because you were waiting in a long sandwich line! For what seems like decades, the HM community has complained about the length of the sandwich line. With support from Michael Dalo, Brenda Cohn, and FLIK, the CC created a Google Form that allows students to order customized sandwiches to be ready at the click of a button. We assumed this would be a great solution for students who do not have lunch periods and put an end to the moaning that ensues when high schoolers are forced to cut middle schoolers to secure a Tendy-Tuesday wrap. And yet, only two students consistently use the form, one of them being Steve Yang, the CC member who made it. 

We also know that you do not skip our events because of frostbite, as we provided the entire Class of 2023 with cozy sweatpants! It is the peak of irony when members of our class berate us for being “useless” while wearing the sweatpants we ordered. Furthermore, when we distributed these sweatpants during break, only 60 percent of the class came to pick them up. As a result, the CC spent multiple hours organizing and manually distributing them to the rest of the grade. This was sad to see given that these sweatpants were created by Spectrum Designs, a company that employs people with autism. It is ironic how a student body that claims to care about uplifting underrepresented voices does not feel the need to support a company doing exactly that. In fact, many of us are so privileged that free clothing is not enough of a reason to make that difficult trek up Mount Olshan.

The relationship between the CC and the student body is co-dependent. The less we do for the student body, the more distrust grows between us, causing our initiatives to have a weaker impact. The less that all of you engage with what we plan, the less motivated we will be to put in the immense effort required to plan our initiatives. This cycle of neglecting our events will most likely continue until the fun initiatives the CC organizes, such as Spikeball and Project X, cease to exist.

The goal of this piece is not to shame you for a few missed emails or opportunities. Trust us, there are plenty of amazing events that other clubs and organizations have brought to school that the two of us have missed. However, the CC is the only one of these clubs and organizations that carries the narrative of “being useless,” despite doing just as much —or more. If you have attended or heard about CC events and remain uninterested in our initiatives, we would love to hear some of your ideas. In the past, we created feedback forms asking for ways in which we can improve as student leaders, and for initiatives that the CC can implement. However, each of these forms typically received around six legitimate responses, indicating that despite how much complaining the student body likes to do about the CC, the majority of students do not have real ways to back up their sentiments. If you do not have any ideas of your own or have never checked a CC email, then we encourage you to think about the role you play in that disconnect before making those baseless and hurtful comments about the CC.