On the Decline of Leadership and School Spirit
May 7, 2013
In the past two years, the reputation and the reality of Leadership at M-A has changed drastically. We the M-A Editorial board believe that this change is the result of a breakdown between the student government and the student body.
Towards the end of the 2009-2010 school year, about a hundred M-A students were scrambling to apply for one of the three Leadership classes offered during the subsequent scholastic year. The Leadership classes of 2009-2010 and those of 2010-2011 competed among themselves for officer positions and roles in the student government.
However, over the course of the past two years the face of Leadership has changed significantly. Last year, the Leadership program consolidated its course offerings down to two classes and now it has dropped down to a single class. At the beginning of this semester, Leadership even had to distribute recruitment pamphlets to fill the class for next year.
The student body’s interest in Leadership-sponsored activities has declined, visible through Leadership’s recent failure to sell more than 16 tickets to the Blackout Dance, which they subsequently had to cancel this Monday.
Leadership’s lack of members and popularity seems to be indicative of its increasing inability to connect with the student body. A poll of 150 students from classes of all levels of difficulty and grade to whom we asked who the current ASB president is (the highest officer in Leadership), only 14% responded with the correct answer – ‘Justine Ferry’ – and 11% responded ‘Tyler Finn,’ a former Leadership officer who is no longer in the class. The fact that such a low percentage of the student body is aware of their student government demonstrates the inability of Leadership to reach out to the student body and take an active role in student life at M-A.
Because student governments only have very limited practical influence over actual school operations, the main goal of an effective Leadership class should be to establish a strong connection with the student body and foster school spirit through events.
One of the reasons for which Leadership has grown so far removed from the student body is its lack of platform or goal behind which the student body can rally. We believe that if both during the electoral process and the school year Leadership were to create a set of goals in response to student input, a strong link between the student government and the governed would grow alongside student spirit. Subsequently, given this enhancement of Leadership-student interactions, the student body will more readily respond to fundraising needs. For example in the case of the recent Blackout dance debacle, had Leadership established a healthy connection with the student body, they would have been able to incite excitement and participation in the dance.
We propose that, in order for Leadership to more effectively tap into the ether of student opinion, officer candidacy should be open to the entire student body. If students were to have the ability to campaign and vote for ideas in which they wholeheartedly believe, establishing a strong link between students and their government would face far less resistance than it currently does.