Student Government Association lacks real Authority


Elie Salem

Three weeks ago, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors watched nearly a dozen candidates speak about why they deserve to be elected secretary, treasurer, vice president, president or student body president. They stood at the podium and stared into the crowd, rambling about giving students a voice, spreading the budget equally, and making classes more fun.

From the sound of those speeches, it appears we are raising good politicians–because they’re all making promises they can’t keep. Ultimately, in any position a student occupies, they are unable to actually make the changes they advertise throughout their campaign. In major decisions–whether the world of budgeting, school curriculum, or general policymaking–students are not in the inner circle.

The word ‘government’ in “Student Government Association” (SGA) is misleading. Our SGA, and nearly every SGA, is not a government in any sense of the word. Its main role is to plan various activities such as school dances, homecoming, and spirit week, with administration approval and support. The XL Jenga sets and giant Uno cards are the extent of SGA’s activism and abilities, and even then, activities such as spring cleaning have been cut by the administration.

Let’s face it: student government is just a glorified party planning committee. The ‘president’ of a class can only make decisions relating to the most minute details of some school-led initiatives, the ‘treasurer’ decides how many cupcakes they can afford, and the ‘secretary’ takes notes.

As one member of the student government who chose to remain anonymous put it, “SGA doesn’t do anything except for planning homecoming at the beginning of the year…. We literally do nothing. Administration doesn’t let us do anything.”

Nonetheless, every student government candidate promises major changes: chocolate milk will return, sports will be well-funded, and the bathrooms will be clean. As students, we are fed populism without pragmatism every single year. Perhaps we want to believe that we can actually do somethingthat if we vote for the right candidate we’ll see major changes at the school.

We live in a sort of pseudo-democracy, tricked every year into the fallacy that our student input has a major bearing on policy. In actuality, school itself is a completely top-down authoritarian organization. DCPS mandates guidelines to the principal who then delegates to mid-level bureaucracy, who then order teachers, who then dictate to the bottom of the food chain: us.

Ask yourselves, was SGA ever able to stop random dress code checks? No. Did we ever get school discounts for Tenleytown restaurants? No. Feminine products permanently in the bathroom? Also no.

As students, we have to realize that the responsibility falls solely on us to object to Wilson policies, not on student government or any other authority. Otherwise, our opinions will continue to get trampled by DCPS, while we all continue to believe that a few representatives can solve the problem.

The first and only time I ran for student government was in elementary school. I was running to become the next school historian, a role that basically entailed being the photographer of the student council. But the job of “historian” was not as powerful as it seemed: I learned that the only picture the last historian had taken in their year-long term, was of me, the incoming historian. In essence, the sole function of the school historian was to take a picture of the person who would fill their seat next. The position held no special privileges and absolutely no power.

While it may be a hard truth to stomach, Wilson’s SGA is no better. They remain bound completely by the administration, relegated to the position of a government and authority in name alone.