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  • Hugo Rosen

Why We Should All Care About the SGA

2024 SGA members pose for a photo / Credits: Mychael Brown

Everyone at Walls knows the Student Government Association. We vote in SGA elections, dance at SGA-organized homecomings, and attend SGA-planned in-school food giveaways, game afternoons, and club showcases. However, SGA remains on the periphery of most of our daily lives. At any given time, the average Walls student probably doesn’t know or care much about what SGA is doing. 

Instead, we hear something like “SGA is hosting a pep rally” or “SGA is protesting budget cuts,” and we evaluate student government based on how well it pulls that thing off. Then, we forget about SGA until the next thing comes around. This is how school politics traditionally works, and it is wrong. The SGA has more to offer than you might expect. 

Many of us though, don’t even know exactly what SGA does.

SGA has two main purposes. First, SGA advocates the student perspective on schoolwide issues, like admissions or attendance policy, giving us influence over what goes on around us. 

Second, SGA works to create a school community. At Walls, a school with many cliques, there is definite value in things like the homecoming dance, the club fair, and pep rallies (all planned/organized by SGA), which give us a chance to interact with people we usually wouldn’t.

The SGA and the position of SGA president are powerful; my fellow officers and I regularly create substantive changes within our school. Last month, for example, I asked the administration for a meeting, where I brought up that DCPS lunches were consistently arriving late to school and that a urinal in the first-floor boys’ bathroom had been out of service for months. The administration contacted the custodial department and called the DCPS lunch provider. Both issues were resolved. 

As SGA president, I’ve spoken with DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee, Chairman Phil Mendelson, and several D.C. Councilmembers about Wall’s funding and other issues and weighed in on how to structure Wall’s admissions process for the incoming freshman class. Perhaps best of all, I’ve canceled over ten hours of class time for schoolwide activities. At SGA, such opportunities to create change come regularly. 

Because our SGA is powerful, we should take elections seriously. By voting for serious candidates whose policies align with our vision for a better school, we as students give ourselves a voice within a complex and cumbersome system where our concerns are easily lost within the slow wheels of bureaucracy. Thus, I encourage every Walls student to vote, and vote mindfully, in the upcoming June 2024 SGA elections.

Beyond voting, I encourage you to get involved in SGA, which is nothing without its representatives, who are a crucial force in SGA. 

For example, Representative Mille Wright’s (‘26) idea to hold a schoolwide Olympics is now set to happen next Monday, June 3rd.

Vice-President Felicia Ogunduwu (‘26) selected the theme for this year’s homecoming dance and organized many of the decorations.

By running for a representative position, you too can shape the SGA and, by extension, School Without Walls.

In order to be successful, SGA must be self-determined by students. Every year for the past three years, SGA has changed faculty sponsors, and each change has significantly impacted how SGA operates. This year, for example, the new sponsors, Ms. Piper, Ms. Pace, and Ms. Grant, overhauled our election system without student input. 

The new system is intelligently designed, and should remain in place. However, unlike in the past, it was instituted unilaterally, and lack of advance communication surrounding the new rules prevented some students from running for their desired positions by no fault of their own. 

SGA’s main purpose is to give us, as young adults, a say in how our school operates and, if we so choose, to change how our school operates. That is only possible, however, when we empower ourselves to be agents, and not merely passive recipients, of change. 

Future SGA leaders should ensure that all SGA decisions begin and end with student input. Anything else would defeat the point of student government.

One more suggestion to future SGA officers and members: take yourself seriously. If you do not take yourself seriously in high school student government, no one else will.

To everyone else, remember: we all have the capacity to vote for someone who will listen to us and work to represent our interests, To vote for someone unprepared for that level of responsibility, or to not vote at all, is to do yourself a disservice.

Every November for the past three years, I’ve asked you to “Vote Rosen for President!” I’m immeasurably grateful for the opportunity and hope my actions have lived up to my words.

As I leave, I will ask one last thing of you: take advantage of student government. Do this not for the admittedly abstract idea of school community, but for yourself. A strong SGA directly benefits every Walls student who wishes for some change within our school. In exchange for a small investment of time and attention, SGA provides a platform for all of us, as young adults, to amplify our voices and shape how our school, where we each spend at least 30 hours a week, functions.

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