Freshmen Share Expectations for New Student Government
Members of the freshman class have different expectations and hopes for the Student Government Association (SGA) at Walls informed by their past experiences of similar groups in various middle schools. Some students said the role of SGA was to introduce fun into the school atmosphere, while others believe SGA should advocate for the interests of students. A few freshmen considered running for a position in SGA while others ruled it out entirely. SGA candidates will need to consider freshmen perspectives if they want to earn their support. At the time of publication, SGA elections had not yet concluded.
Freshman Charlie Daggett, who attended D.C. International School before coming to Walls, described some disillusionment with his middle school government. “I knew that they were trying,” Daggett said, but his student government “never focused on the big picture, like helping out students who actually needed help.”
He has higher hopes for Walls SGA. “More people have their own opinions here, so I feel like it will be better,” he said, expecting more than a raw popularity contest; he views SGA as a responsibility and a commitment to fellow students.
He expressed his desire for engaged SGA presidents who care about their role, saying, “I want someone who’s passionate about what they do, not someone who’s going to sit there for their college resume… someone who actually wants to be there is someone I want representing me.” While Daggett has high hopes for SGA, he said he does not see himself running for a position.
Another freshman, Malaysia Hylton, has had no experience with student government at all, as Center City Middle School, which she attended, did not have one. She described an ideal student government as one that would “speak for the rights of students, see what the students want, then bring that to administration,” and said honesty was the most important quality for an SGA president.
Hylton added that SGA should “actually take into account what the students want, not just what they want themselves.” She said she wouldn’t run for an SGA position, not wanting “people coming at you from all different directions with something different.”
Unlike Daggett and Hylton, Dylan Donahue served in student government in middle school, holding a position at Inspired Teaching Demonstration School in 7th grade. However, he said middle school SGA wasn’t very effective: “They didn’t have much power.” He mentioned their event planning, but otherwise didn’t describe the student government as very productive.
Donahue is not sure of what to expect from Walls SGA, but mainly wants it to exercise power in the school. He said that he would “possibly” consider running, but characterized the elections as “all really a popularity competition.”
Keymah Bonham participated in a more informal type of student government at Paul Middle School. Students “advocated for a collective” at her middle school, but they did not have a structured student government. Bonham said she periodically had a role in the informal government. “Me and my friends would come up with ideas for our class,” she said, citing a year-end fundraiser as an example.
Bonham hopes that Walls SGA will have power of its own. “A lot of student governments don’t make change,” she said. “They just let the school do what they want to do.”
Bonham also said that she would consider running for a position as a class representative, suggesting a need for more fun in what she described as a “school, school, school” atmosphere.