On Thursday, January 12, around 50 J-DHS students convened in the auditorium. Why? It was the second meeting this year for the school’s Constitutional Convention.
An initiative led by the school-wide Student Government, the objective was “to reform the current Student Government to make it more equitable, accessible, and fair,” according to Mark Bratslavsky (‘23), the co-president of the current Student Government, which helped coordinate the event. Two meetings were held last year to discuss the student body’s thoughts on the current government system, and Thursday’s convention was this year’s second meeting which goal was aimed to figure out a new government system.
Although the writing of the constitution itself is still in progress, Bratslavsky was able to provide the completed preamble of the document: “We, the students of Jamesville-Dewitt High School, will uphold the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation for every student. We pledge to promote school spirit, communicate effectively, and make the school a positive environment for all. We vow to respect and honor the will of the student body and the ideals of our constitution.”
The event, open to all students, was a success. Bratslavsky says, “The vibe was formal but informal – we communicated through parliamentary procedure but everyone knew each other and were open to new ideas. At first, it was difficult to get everyone on the same page but we were able to compromise in the end.”
Participants in the convention also seemed to enjoy the meeting. Sophomore Addie Bufis says, “I really liked the Constitutional Convention, I thought it was really nice to hear so many peoples different opinions on what they thought needed to be changed within our school’s government system.”
Student Government co-director of communications Brian Tollar (‘25) felt that the meeting was important to hold for the school. “This is such an important time in our school’s history, because the constitution that is developed from these conventions will be used for decades.” Bratslavsky concurred, saying it’s crucial that “we listen to as many ideas as possible, so we can come up with a government system that the majority is satisfied with in the future.”
Tollar also stressed the importance of patience in the process, “We want to make the student government very productive and reachable, so every decision we make needs to be a thoughtful one. Writing an entire constitution doesn’t take a couple of hours, so we will have more conventions in the future. Although it may seem like a slow timeline, it is important to know we need to look at this from every angle and compare constitutions from other schools.”
If you were interested in participating but unable to attend, don’t worry: the process is ongoing, and ideas are always welcome. “We have not scheduled the next convention, but we again encourage anyone to join the next one and share their opinions,” says Tollar. Until next time, the participants of the convention will continue to research and devise an impactful and effective solution to the problems of student government.