The recent Middle School election served as one of the first applications of the new Marlborough School Student Constitution, which was implemented last February and revised the regulations for the election process and candidate eligibility.
As part of a year-long revision of Marlborough’s constitution, student volunteers on the Constitution Committee decided on changes to the requirements for student council candidates. Supervised by history instructor and 10th Grade Level Dean Tom Millar and math instructor and 7th Grade Level Dean Sandra O’Connor, four students from each grade contributed to the amendment process. In addition to examining prior Marlborough constitutions, including one dating back to the 1940s, committee members looked at constitutions from other schools, such as Loyola, Archer and Brentwood.
Although Marlborough’s constitution underwent minor changes in the 2007-2008 school year, the newly adopted constitution has significant revisions and additions.
“It was the first big haul in a long time,” O’Connor said.
At the beginning of the year, sub-committees were assigned to edit specific areas of the constitution. New requirements stated in Article V, which regulates elections and Middle School officers, include a minimum GPA, a due date for speeches and a publicly-displayed sheet created by each candidates describing her qualifications.
Students running for any council position must have an unweighted GPA no lower than 3.0. Council members are also responsible for maintaining this GPA while serving their terms.
“People need to be responsible enough to keep up good grades to keep up a position on council,” said Jenny ’15, a member of the Constitution Committee who helped edit Article V.
Additionally, candidates in this year’s elections were required to submit their speeches to their Grade Level Dean by a specific date before elections began.
Committee members such as Christine ’16, who also edited Article V, said that they hope this rule will result in more thoughtful and organized speeches.
“Before, it was very simple; a person could just write their speech at lunch before the election,” Christine said.
These deadlines helped candidates by making it easier to plan ahead.
“You don’t feel really stressed out. [The deadlines] give you enough time to get everything ready for elections,” said Kate ’16, the newly-elected 8th Grade President.
The new requirement visible on every Grade Level Dean’s classroom windows and doors were the qualification sheets. Section 2 of Article V maintains that “A candidate must submit … a list of qualifications, goals for the upcoming school year, and an action plan two weeks in advance to the Dean.” Candidates filled typed or handwritten pieces of paper with personal achievements, skills, characteristics and talents as well as plans, goals and hopes for the upcoming year. Candidates said they also found writing the qualification sheets advantageous in preparing their speeches.
Incoming Middle School President Julia ’15 said that being able to convey her qualifications on this sheet allowed her to focus on separate topics in her speech.
Jenny agreed. “It gave me another opportunity to present myself to the class,” she said.
While most revisions were successfully enforced, a few were overlooked in the recent elections. For example, one point in the constitution states, “Speeches may not include other students besides the candidates.” Nonetheless, two out of five of the candidates running for 7th Grade President and 8th Grade President included skits or raps with their friends in their speeches.