Graded’s StuCo Can Work; Here’s why:


Credits: Graded

Democracy is traditionally practiced through voting and continuous deliberation, ensuring its modernization as time ensues. However, a couple of weeks ago, room A21 endorsed democracy as a little more than half of the Junior class gathered to discuss its concerns with the newly instituted StuCo. Grade representatives Francisco Morandi, Alex Ting and Jenny Lee discussed ideas for nearly half an hour, arguing constantly with the students’ criticisms.

Prior to discussing why having a Student Council can theoretically be a valuable exercise, I want to synthesize my position on the “collective schema”, or a sort of common perspective, of students as participants in a democracy. Alongside that, I would like to address the fragility of a council tragically dependent on a corporate docket, by which I mean the usage of Student Council as a showcase for incoming parents and possible new sources of revenue.

Students, as clever as they might be, have the intrinsic bias of desiring authority. It is not their fault; the modern education system allows for very little impactful student input outside the classroom. This means that, when handed over a little authority, they fail to understand the complicated implications of transforming an initiative into a dependable program. In simple terms, this is why students are so good at complaining but so bad a suggesting a solution.

In order to explain the futility of instituting a council to “moderate” a corporate docket, discussing the modern education system is useful. Schools, Graded in particular, are incredible institutions. They combine rigorous academic material with a rich variety of individuals and cultures, and they do so in a way that incentivizes extracurricular activities and forms what society often labels as “global citizens.” What you have to remember, is that Graded is not concerned with all of society. It is concerned with upper class São Paulo residents and expats. All schools must be concerned with their target markets because, at the end of the day, education is still a business, even if it is a non-profit one. Consequently, Graded will cater to the desires of its investors first and all the rest second. What results is an administrative regime with little time to micromanage the relatively insignificant issues that students are concerned with.

My negative tone until now does not mean I disfavour a Student Council, but rather that I wish it would function in a more independent manner from the school’s administration. In other words, it could be in charge of micromanaging the aspects that the Board of Directors and Principals cannot. Hence arises the conflict of a school functioning as a company rather than an organization.

The Student Council is thus, in my opinion, a perfect simulation to learn how to be citizens of impersonal bureaucracies.

— Joel

The Student Council is thus, in my opinion, a perfect simulation to learn how to be citizens of impersonal bureaucracies. Students have been reduced to voicing their opinions and discussing ideas inside the classroom, an environment that is “safe” and conveniently irrelevant to the administration. Such is the case in the real world where we only feel “safe” discussing ideas and asking questions inside. This keeps us away from the  “real world” governments due to the futility of organizing small protests and signing useless petitions in the face of a bureaucratic organ that is somehow so distant but so influential.   

Graded’s Student Council is thankfully not a government. It is not as bureaucratic, making it relievingly personal. The bureaucracy is supplied by the corporate restrictions on many of its powers and actions. What is achieved is then an ideal microcosm of a society. What makes this all even better is the fact that, since it’s part of school, it can be utilized to teach individuals, not only students, how to make the real world work.

StuCo’s real purpose should be to teach representatives to carry initiatives through, and how to best meet all desires even though not all of them are possible. It shouldn’t be to “provide a bridge between the teachers and the students” because we all know that our voice can simply be censured by the authority we are all so prone to accepting. Student Council’s real purpose should be to teach students that the only real way to effect change is through organization. It should serve as an example of what a society can achieve when it is given the tools to coordinate change. Students mustn’t desire unaccountability, for the real world does not function that way. They should instead seek to navigate through all the obstacles of accountability and still achieve something meaningful.

If that were understood when voting for representatives, I think that the speeches would be much different.