Upper School Council sets sights on higher student input

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STUDENT LED COMMUNITY. With new administration, USC has led a bigger role in connecting students and admin. USC Co-Presidents Tenzin Bawa and Maryeva Gonzalez lead upper school assemblies, participate in student and faculty discussions, and are working on adapting school policies to better reflect the needs of our student body.

The Upper School Student Council, an elected student group of representatives across all grades, faces the task of being a liaison between students and a new administration this year. As a major part of the student government, they also have influence over other parts of school life, including school-wide events, planning activities and communicating with other student groups.
USC co-president Tenzin Bawa described the main theme for the year as having a normal year through restoring school spirit and activities.
“Given the general loosening of pandemic restrictions, we think the school community and activity will be much better,” he said. “The year has just begun, so we don’t have all our proposals sorted out yet. However, when we do make proposals to change school policy, we will do more to inform everyone through the opinion board and assemblies.”
USC co-president Maryeva Gonzalez added that “We are also trying to re-frame the house cup system. Because I mean, as it is now, people don’t really know a lot about it…people are engaged in it, but not to the point where it would be ideal. So we’re going to try and promote a lot of engagement in that this year.”
Additionally, USC is planning this year’s Speaker Day as a chance for students to listen to the speakers they are most interested in, promoting student involvement with the greater community.

Students are open to compromises and being respectful of decisions that the school has made as a whole.”

— Violet Pitcher

Another one of the roles of USC is representing the student body and helping to communicate students’ needs to the administration. This can include relaying feedback on recent changes, such as to the dress code and senior speeches, as well as making compromises between past practices and students’ wishes. Following increased enforcement of the handbook’s dress code and discussion about requiring standing ovations for all speeches, many students have raised objections that go through USC first.
In order to accurately represent student opinions, Gonzalez said, “The most important part is just talking to people and asking what they want from the school and actually listening to people when they have an issue, or if you know, they think something should be changed. Prioritizing student voices.”
Freshman Violet Pitcher described her appreciation for USC’s role as a mediator. She said, “It’s good to have those mediators that can take all sides because then it doesn’t kind of feel like the minority group of people who have not as common of an opinion can still be heard.”
As a new Dean of Students and, the third principal in three years has led to changes in SPA’s culture, more and more students have opinions about the appropriate courses of action.
“It’s kind of like a world in school where students are open to considering compromises and being respectful of decisions that the school has made as a whole,” Pitcher said.
On the other hand, other students believe USC should have a greater influence within the school.
Junior Rowan Hofmann said, “In the years past, I believe they have not had as much leeway to make decisions. But I hope they’ll have a larger impact this year.”
Ultimately, USC holds a vision for this year to make the changes that should be made.