Why Groton Should Have a Student Council


Courtesy of Mei Matsui ’23

Life at school has become defined by a collection of stringent rules and procedures: meal times determine who gets a slice of pizza for lunch at what time; arrows direct traffic and movement in the Schoolhouse; the 7:15 p.m. curfew removes forty-five minutes of free time from students that tend to breed Covid-19 at a much higher rate than any other 45-minute block in the day. Whether or not these policies help student safety or not, the truth is, students have little say over the rules that dictate their regimented life on campus, and by association, their entire high school experience. The lack of a voice perpetuates policies that may not be directly harmful to the student body but could be improved and amended with more student input. The fact that students have little autonomy over their lives extends beyond the pandemic as well, but the issue has been exemplified by the experiences over the past few terms during Covid-19. 

How do we address this issue? The answer is simple: the creation of a Student Council to represent the interests of the general population and to propose policies and ideas that improve life on campus. Why? This Student Council would give students a direct voice that could reach the administration and therefore improve communication, quicken the movement and formation of new policies that help those on campus, and develop the leadership skills for students in the future. This student council does not have to be a complete departure from the current institutions that the school has already established, but instead, it could be built around the already existing Form Officer/Senior Prefect system. It would, however, be more formalized and structured, in which there would be periodical meetings in which policy changes and suggestions are discussed by members of the Administration. With one of the deans or a member of the administration serving as the faculty advisor, this Student Council would be a legitimate entity that would be recognized by the Headmaster and the Board as representatives of the student body.

The creation of a Student Council would give the student body a clear voice on the important matters which affect their lives, bolstering better communication between the student body and the administration in the process. The truth is, Form Officers (other than the 6th Form Prefects), serve very little purpose in the workings of the school and do not fully represent the needs and interests of everyone in their form. With only two representatives per form, the diverse voices and opinions of the eighty people in each form are not fully represented. However, with the formation of a larger and more diverse student body recognized by the administration, students can at the very least voice their opinions to the Headmaster, even if the suggested policies may be ultimately rejected. Yes, in the current status quo, students can voice their grievances to the administration; however, most of these grievances go unheard. Instead, with a formalized body of diverse voices which represent the needs of the student population, students will be given a recognized vessel through which they can voice their opinions. 

A Student Council would also allow for more policies to be efficiently implemented by the administration. Various policies, which are unanimously perceived as unnecessary or excessively stringent, such as a ban on singing or the inexplicable 7:15 curfew, could be repealed, amended or explained for the betterment of the community. With the legitimate backing of the student body, changes to policies and ideas would have a much easier time when being approved by other members of the administration and the Board of Trustees. 

Lastly, the formation of a new Student Council would develop the necessary leadership skills for students to pursue their future aspirations and to serve, one of the most fundamental aspects of education. The creation of a Student Council would allow students to apply their leadership skills in a setting that requires thinking through plans, examining problems that exist or may arise from them, and implementing them. With a Student Council, our school would most likely help form and develop even finer leaders for the future. 

Ultimately, this time of pandemic has demonstrated the necessity for a democratic Student Council. It is essential that the voice of students, especially during such an unprecedented time, is not smothered and instead exemplified through a body of students who would be able to push for the enactment of certain policies and ensure that those on campus live their best high school experience.