November 4, 2022 at 4:00:00 PM
Kevin Hang '24
It’s about that time of year… the Board of Regents school meeting! Was it as bad as the one last year? No! Was it any good? Absolutely not. But hey, at least the photographer got their diversity shot for the year!
After the Board of Regents school meeting last spring, the school has learned a few things: 1) Follow a script. Some of the Q&A answers last year were…questionable. Make the script inconspicuous (have them all hold their stapled packets to refer to, also have them point out that a question goes off script). 2) Filter the questions. We need questions that will reflect well on board members and ameliorate the students’ impression of them. Off-the-cuff questions are a big no after last year’s school meeting. 3) Look diverse! Last year’s panel raised a lot of questions about the board’s degree of representation from the student body. A pre-prepared question about diversity, as well as younger board members almost had me believing in the change… However, one glance to the sides of the theatre revealed where all of the old, white, male, board members were hidden: out of sight, out of mind. 4) Privacy is key. Block off the Edwards Room and close down two classrooms to ensure that the board gets its privacy, but at the same time we should also encourage students to speak directly to board members while they are here on campus!
In all seriousness, these are glaring issues that the board and the administration need to figure out. This is not an attack on board members themselves’ or a discredit to the work they do for the school. I am simply sharing a student perspective as to how this meeting looks year after year. It is hard to feel as though these people represent us when we never see them.
I don’t care about a single one of their answers. I don’t care whether they were Irving or Marshall, or that they love pretzel pie, and I don’t care about their Mercersburg Moment. What I do care about is the impact of COVID on our campus and what’s being done to mend it. I care about what they’re actually doing behind the scenes, and not that awful “joke” that one board member made about obesity and nutritional values. I care about being able to ask the questions that matter, and I care about being seen. Yet the board seems to take every step they can to dodge us and then complains that we just don’t reach out to them.
We need more two-way communication. While I understand they’re all busy people and this is a volunteer commitment for them, at least provide an email that students can write to or open school meetings to a real Q&A. Until concrete steps are taken to address these issues, the Mercersburg student body will never take them seriously.
As Betsy Mitchell famously said last spring: It goes both ways. The student body deserves just as much respect as the board. This dynamic doesn’t have to be an us vs. them; we have to be able to work together, so that the student body's needs are met in a realistic way.