Would you believe me if I told you that Bellarmine’s student body is a lot like ancient Sparta? It’s hard to relate the stories of leaving baby girls on top of mountains, the notoriously harsh discipline, and the amazingly simple lifestyle to the advanced, sheltered Bellarmine student community, but the concept that governs the two spans across two thousand years: the oligarchy. Oligarchy, noun, a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution, or a government by an oligarchy. Ancient Sparta consisted of 2 kings of equal power and a group of 28 elders who advised the kings, known as the gerousia. In Bellarmine, there are 3 “kings”, They govern the student body, which consists of 32 people who help advise the presidents and vote on decisions. But as most of you know, this structure was implemented only this year and is new to our school, as previously ASB only had one president and one vice president. Therefore, to help you understand the change more fully, we interviewed the three presidents.
We started off by discussing the new structure of ASB with the three student body presidents, Greg Brown, Buddy Nash, and Kalvin Lee. First, we wanted to learn about the foundations of the idea, so we asked them about their initial thoughts when they first heard of the new proposal. Kalvin mentioned that “it made a lot of sense”, and Buddy said that they “knew each other pretty well”and that they could “work well together”. Their response led us to ask if there was specific reasoning behind converting to the new framework. All of them mentioned that the school administration “had always been wanting to move towards this type of council”.
Background obtained, we next inquired about the actual mechanics of the new system. All three presidents mentioned that they “work together pretty well” and “text a lot between the three of us so we can divide up the work evenly and work on everything”. They also make sure to “always get each other’s opinions,”as they “only have ASB meetings like once a week now, so being able to contact each other through email and text and collaborate tomorrow is extremely helpful.”
At this point, the presidents had established their good rapport with each other, so Alex and I then proceeded to ask about the improvements in the new system compared to the old system. They said that “the workload is a lot easier, and the fact that the responsibility is on all three of our shoulders instead of just one person’s is helpful.” Kalvin provided an example, remembering that “before the school year started there were a lot of events that required ASB representation and Greg and I couldn’t make it so Buddy stepped up and made it, so that was pretty cool.” In addition, they mentioned that ASB creativity was at an all-time high since they made the switch, the cause of that being that they “get three different perspectives and three different backgrounds based on who we know at school.” These different perspectives now combine together to help work towards the same goal. They mentioned ASB’s new “broader reach”, because each of them has “different opinions based on the different activities and friends [they] have at Bellarmine.
After interviewing the Presidents Alex and I decided to interview Mrs. Slater the head of ASB to also get her perspective on the change. “What prompted the change was a desire to have a more, to cast a wider net. If you will. We figured that we had three great candidates, in Kalvin, Greg, and Buddy. They’re all friends but they come from different friend groups. And the idea came to us that, what if we combine forces and joined together to include more groups on campus. It has also been nice, because if one of them has a commitment well then you have two other guys who can fill in. That’s been very fruitful. For us as a team.”
We were also curious as to what the dynamic between the three presidents was like, how did they work together, Mrs. Slater commented, “Everything is a voting system so when we come to a decision or we have an idea Buddy Kalvin and Greg will lead the meeting, they will present the idea to the group, and we vote on it. We do everything majority and the important thing with any presidency regardless of however many people you have, in this case, we have 3. The president is not responsible for being the decision-maker and I say that in regard of the president is representing the student body it’s not his school, it’s not “Well I’m the president I get to choose the prom theme or I get to decide which food trucks we do and do not have at party in the quad.” It’s I am going to go out and find out what the student body wants and then I am going to bring that to my team and we are going to make a decision together. I would say I am very pleased and impressed with how the three of them have worked together. They have different personalities and different skill sets and I think they complement each other very well.”
While implementing a new system can be a great way to change the dynamic up, they do not always work. Dhruv and I were interested in discovering what actually works with the new system as well as some things that ASB could improve on. Mrs. Slater replied, “I would say something else that works well in addition to balancing out the decision making together and casting a wider net in including more people we want to continue to grow as an organization and for me, ASB has always seemed like this select club, if you will, where you have to be elected into it…. But we have so many talented young men on this campus who have so much to offer and so much to give and I hate the idea of someone wanting to be a part of asb and not having enough votes. And then them missing out on that opportunity and the community missing out on what that person has to give…. Who was not elected, but they really wanna contribute, so they come in, and they sit in on meetings, and… I think that if you have something to offer and you want to, then why should you ever be barred from being a part of a group.”
And then finally as many people at Bellarmine know, our school spirit at points in the year lacks, sure everyone gets hyped for spirit week, but many other times in the year Bellarmine feels like a job more so than a school. With that being said, we wanted to know how ASB is approaching this problem and their strategies to get more of the community involved, “And you know, you’ve hit the point- culture. And I remember when I was in school, Bellarmine did have a ton of school spirit. You would want to go to Bellarmine events because they were so much fun. To be here, and I think you’ve heard me say this many times. Bellarmine students have a lot of pride…. And it’s hard to find the time to show up to rallies and compete in events if they happen infrequently throughout the year. One of ASB’s goals is to actually provide more opportunities for people to just have fun at school. Because you know, you only get high school once, so if that means that you show up to an after school rally instead of studying for a test, then sorry teachers, we want that to happen.”