The Student Union (SU) held its second annual Open Forum meeting in the library on Thursday, April 9. The SU encouraged students to attend and voice their views on school policies. The event was advertised in various posters throughout the school.
Senior Cecelia Shao, who was the chair of the event, saw the event as an effective way to help students come together to have an open discussion about improving Stuyvesant. “The first Open Forum I attended was in my sophomore year. That year, the Open Forum was more of a lecture. The structure of the event did not correspond with its name,” Shao said. Shao, a student representative for the SLT, and other members of the SU have worked on making Open Forum events more discussion-based by ensuring that both the SU and the students participate to make it a two-way conversation.
To some attendees, Shao’s goal seemed to have been accomplished. “It wasn’t a straight-out lecture, or a debate of any sort, but more like a large group conversation, which I thought was its greatest aspect,” senior and SU president Edward Cho said.
But the event’s turnout was disappointing, with less than 1% of Stuyvesant’s student body being in attendance. All together, only around 20 people attended the event, with more than a quarter being SU members. Some students blamed the small crowd on ineffective advertising, despite the posters around the school. “I wish there had been more advertising for it,” freshman Isaac Gluck said. “I would have loved to go but never heard about it.”
At the event, students discussed Stuyvesant’s workload and the different ways in which it could be handled. The general consensus was that procrastination is a major issue in time management. One upperclassman suggested that students complete all homework that do not require a computer first, and then do the homework that does require the computer. The benefit of this system, students agreed, was that at least some of the homework was completed before getting distracted by Facebook.
The SU members then went on to discuss issues regarding resource availability and awareness. Upperclassmen students advised underclassmen regarding handling extra curricular opportunities and internships, with many stressing that it is in a person’s best interests to limit the extracurricular activities he or she participates in to what is most interesting to the individual.
Students were then encouraged to participate in an interactive “Spectrum” event. In this activity, the room was divided into three areas: the “agree,” “disagree,” and “unsure” areas. The areas corresponded to students’ responses to general questions or statements, like, “Stuyvesant High School stresses me out,” “I can talk to my teachers about a problem I’m having in school,” “I think the administration tries to connect with students,” and other similar questions. Students in each area discussed their positions for that specific question.
The Spectrum event was followed by a discussion of high school success and college readiness. Several freshmen voiced the concern that their recent freshmen workshops failed to help them at all, claiming that it just regurgitates information that they already know. It was suggested by some members of the SU that perhaps having Stuyvesant students who succeeded in school host these workshops would be a better idea. Juniors and seniors voiced their concerns in regards to the ratio of three college counselors to 800 students, while others suggested that the college office try and hold more meetings guiding the students along the college process.
However, the event failed to incorporate in its discussions the significant portion of the student population the SU had hoped for. SU members at the event discussed that despite their attempts to bring the students together in events like these to discuss changes the students want, there are hardly any students in attendance.
The small number of attendees, however, may have been due to confusion over what the event actually was. “I thought it was a college meeting,” sophomore Shaan Sweb said.
Though opinions vary on the success of the event, the SU claims that it will continually try to connect with the student body. “The Spectator has made several claims in its last couple of issues that the SU has not been doing enough to represent the student body, and that there’s a lot of things wrong with how we’re functioning,” Cho said. “So, as a way to cover all bases, we created an event, this Student Open Forum, to invite everyone to tell us what to address, whether it be problems with the school itself or with the SU.”