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The Milton Measure

[Editorial] SGA Amendment Misses Mark

by on Thursday, March 10th, 2016

The SGA recently proposed a new amendment to its Constitution,
changing the clause about Head Monitor/class representative position requirements
from ‘one boy and one girl’ and the boarding monitor clause
to “One upper school student from a girls’ dorm, one upper school student
from a boys’ dorm.” Currently, students who do not identify as either
of the traditional binary genders (male and female) cannot run for office
without classifying themselves as a gender with which they do not identify.

A March 8th Milton Measure poll found that, of 204 anonymous upper-school
student respondents, 50% of students voted “Yes” to the
Amendment, 31% of the respondents votes “No”, and 19% of respondents
did not vote on the Amendment. According to this poll, the majority of
students agree with this Amendment, but a significant portion of the student
body does not.
The intentions of the amendment are noble, but one specific line stands
out as potentially problematic. Replacing the gender-segregated language
in the Constitution allows two students of the same gender to hold office
Regardless of your stance on the issue, whether or not you agree
with allowing two boys or two girls to be elected, this amendment changes
more than meets the eye. Many students who voted against the amendment
did so because they do not want two students of the same gender
representing them. Having a non-gender-binary representative is not the
main issue, according to a comment option on the poll. In this proposed
revision, the combination of two unrelated issues overshadows the more
important goal. Regardless of whether the amendment passes or not,
many people will be displeased with the SGA’s grouping of two separate
changes into one amendment: namely, that non-gender-binary students
can and should be able to run and, second, that two people of the same
gender can hold office together. The two changes should be separated,
so students who agree with one change but not the other can vote independently
on both.
Students should also consider another question when addressing
changes to the SGA: how is the organization supposed to represent the
student body? The SGA evidently wants to make sure it represents the
entire student body, inclusive of potential students and candidates who
identify as neither male nor female. However, allowing two students of
the same gender to be elected ruins the inclusion we are are trying so hard
to implement.
One anonymous student elaborated on this problem in a comment in
the poll, saying, “Listen. I’m a liberal. I’m going to vote for Bernie Sanders.
I support the LGBT community. I believe in equity for all races/religions/
sexes etc. However, there are nuances to this amendment I think people
are blind to. At first glance, it seems as though this amendment only
creates more opportunity and equality for students of non-conforming
gender identities. But in reality, the influences and choices of the Milton
community won’t change because of some arbitrary amendment to
the student handbook. I’d like to think that the Head Monitorship and
other SGA positions aren’t just popularity contests, but I know unequivocally
that they are personality contests. Loud, whimsical, funny students
— namely socially adept males — will be elected for both positions. I feel
comfortable predicting that in a few years, another amendment will be
proposed to end the gender inequality occurring from too many males
elected in succession. If I were the administration, I would shed the systemic
vestiges of Milton Acadmey’s [sic] former boy’s and girl’s school by
having one elected president of either sex to unite both male and female
students. Frankly, it’s an antiquated system.”
This student hits the bullseye in the description of the election. The
inconvenient truth of the matter is that seniors often vote for unlikely
candidates simply to mess up the election, underclassmen do not know
enough about the candidates to make an informed decision, and juniors’
decisions are not weighted nearly enough. The election becomes about
who can present themselves best in five minutes and not about who actually
deserves the job.
This board would like to propose three potential solutions to this
problem: first, providing job descriptions for each of the two roles, so students
run for a specific position rather than for the male or female job;
second, combining the votes for both jobs and choosing the top two candidates
of different genders from the popular vote; and third, having president
and vice president positions, so students can run for those instead of
male and female jobs.
First, the election should not be a popularity contest but should,
instead, be based on whether a candidate fits the job’s requirements. By
providing job descriptions for all class representatives and the head monitor
jobs, with different descriptions for each of the two, candidates can
choose which of the two they are best suited for, regardless of gender, and
run based on ability. Second, to avoid two candidates of the same gender
winning, as that result would not be a realistic representation of the Milton
community, the SGA could combine the votes for each job. Thus, students
could simply choose the two candidates, regardless of gender, that
they feel best represent them. Third, separating the jobs entirely would
eliminate the need for a male and female version of each.
Although the amendment came from a good place, the wording
was not correct, and it attempted too much. These proposed solutions
would allow the SGA to be inclusive, as it hopes to be, while making the
election more representative of the candidate’s abilities.

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Posted by on Mar 10 2016. Filed under Editorial, More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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