This Thursday ushered in seven new student council members, though only three were actually voted in.
Due to new rules implemented this year by the administration, many students were prevented from running for student council, causing four positions to go unopposed. New president Raquel Zohar, vice president Elisheva Adouth, treasurer Elie Dahan, and 11th grade representative Michelle Behar did not have any opponents to run against. Three students had actual opponents and came out on top: Jack Benveniste-Plitt was elected as the PR (public relations) and marketing director, Danelle Levi as secretary and Yosef Fruhman as 10th grade representative.
This year, students running for president and vice president were required to have at least one year of prior experience on student council. This new rule eliminated a number of students who would have run. Both Alex Farkas (11th grade) and Mery Kamhazi (11th) were planning to run for president until the new rules were put in place.
“I was looking forward to running for president because I feel that I am a leader. Before I never really had the courage and I only really wanted to run for president. Now, it was shot because of the new administration rule,” Farkas said. “If we were to go by politics of America as well, Donald Trump had no prior experience in any political position but he still became the president of the United States.”
The other new rule this year is that incoming sophomores can run for treasurer, secretary and public relations. In previous years only juniors and seniors could run for those positions. New secretary Danelle Levi, currently a freshman, benefited from this rule when she beat out a sophomore for the position on Thursday.
“Just because we’re freshmen doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get the opportunity to run for these positions,” Levi said. “I think we can be just as good as sophomores or juniors.”
Many students said the new rules are not fair.
“I think that maybe if somebody is good for that position, then why not? Let them try it,” said Kamhazi, who was planning to make a bid for president. “Why does it only need to be people who have already been in student council? I think that they should be thankful that they already were on student council and had a chance for people to hear their voice, so why not give other people a chance?”
Assistant Principals Rabbi Assaraf and Dr. Lieber said the new rules were created to ensure a balanced and successful student council.
“It would not make any sense for us to allow someone to run for upper positions, such as president and vice president, and other higher positions that require a little bit of experience,” Assaraf said. “We felt that it was not fair to have someone who never ran for or served on student council to run against someone who sat on student council for three years. It is a huge time commitment and if you didn’t give that, we don’t believe you deserve the right to then jump to the highest position.”
Assaraf also noted that the exception to the new prior experience rule is that if a student ran for election years prior, but was not actually elected, that he or she could be eligible for the president and vice president candidacy.
Last year’s vice president Caleb Katz (12th) was elected after never having served on student council. Katz said he’s glad he was given the chance to run and disagrees with the new rules.
“I don’t think the new rules for student council are very good because there a lot of people that want to run that maybe have never been on student council before and never were given the opportunity like me,” Katz said. “Before this year, I was never on student council and new people can give a fresh perspective, and I think that people who are repeatedly on student council do it for control, so I think we need to have more of a voice for the students.”
The administration felt that in years prior, the students’ promises towards the administration on what they were going to do and how they were going to make a difference went unfulfilled. Due to this, Rabbi Assaraf and Dr. Lieber decided to implement an essay along with the student council application form so the administration has the right to kick that student off of student council if the elected student council representative does not uphold their written goals for the council.
The new essay requirement influenced many to avoid running. Mary Berkowitz (9th) wanted to run but didn’t because of the essay.
“Personally, having to write an essay for running on student council, it just doesn’t make that much sense,” said Berkowitz. “If you’re going to say a speech, it is exactly what you are going to be writing in that essay, so it would be better to just get a verification from all of the teachers and then once all of the teachers sign whatever is needed, you can just say your speech in front of everyone.”
This year, another mandatory obligation required a signature from a Judaic and secular teacher, along with approval from administration. The school has also continued the requirement of a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Though many students dislike the rules, others say they make sense.
“For one, the GPA rule makes a lot of sense because since student council is a very demanding job, if you already not doing well in your academic studies, student council would give you even less time to study,” said Eliot Depaz (10th). “On top of that, it wouldn’t be very fair if you’re on student council your whole life and somebody who has never been there comes and takes your spot as president or vice president.”
New student council president Raquel Zohar worries the new rules will cause some resentment toward the incoming student council since the new rules created a lack of candidates, resulting in little choice for voters.
“I’m not the biggest fan or proponent of these rules, because obviously it’s affecting my reputation directly,” Zohar said. “But at the same time there is some warrant behind the rules, that if you plan on taking a higher position of leadership, I guess the school wanted to have some type of precedence of leadership that’s a good measure of success.”
Outgoing president Tehila Moore said she is not a fan of the new policies.
“As former student council president I am kind of sad to see the way that student council has turned,” Moore said. “I am not saying that the students running for student council now aren’t really into this and don’t want to make a difference, but I don’t think it is fair that students out there who are more quiet, who maybe do want to run, are just not given this chance or the courage by the administration to run.”
Regardless of the rules, next year’s incoming student council members say they are excited to take on the mantle of leadership.
“I’m really excited for what the next year is going to bring,” said new Student Council Vice President Elisheva Adouth. “We have a lot of new events and a lot more events than usual, and we’re really excited to carry that out and enjoy our senior year.”
By: Samantha Ebner (10th Grade)