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The Milton Measure

SGA Debates Newest Gender Amendment to Its Constitution

by Caleb Rhodes on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

In the Roman Republic, leadership and power were split between two consuls. In the millennia that have since followed, this structure of two leaders has become ever present in our society. At Milton, we find these pairs in every facet of day-to-day life whether it be co-heads of clubs, peer group leaders, or co-captains of sports teams. There are instances of tri-heads, but in general, two is the magic number when it comes to splitting leadership roles, and nowhere else is the number two more consistently applied than in the SGA: two Class Representatives, two Day Monitor, two Boarding Monitors, and, most importantly, two Head Monitors. However, recently the SGA considered a radical new plan that would shift away from a two to a three Head Monitor system. Following last year’s amendment, the SGA has continued to debate, argue, and experiment over how best to represent the Milton student body.

The proposed wording changes in the SGA constitution were as follows. In article V, Officers and Duties, the head monitor would now include “One person who identifies as male, one person who identifies as female, and a third person of any gender identity.” In Article VI, Elections, the election of Head Monitors would involve “Before voting, all candidates will individually reveal their gender identity to one adult, appointed by the current Head Monitors. After voting concludes, the candidates will be ranked by number of votes. The top voted male candidate, the top voted female candidate, and the candidate with the next highest number of votes will be elected new Head Monitors. The gender identities of each candidate will not be explicitly revealed to the student body.”

A straw poll vote in the February 23rd SGA meeting yielded eight votes for pursuing this three Head Monitor system and two votes for pursuing a two-different-gender system that the SGA is also considering. Head Monitor Tyler Piazza (I), who voted against the three Head Monitor system and who supports a two-different-gender system, believes, “the push for finding a different SGA Constitution came from the observation that the SGA was currently dominantly male: nine males and five females. In particular, the current senior and junior class counselor elections resulted in a male-male representative.” Tyler went on to outline the three main reasons the three Head Monitor system would not work: one, the way the elections are structured would often lead to male-male-female Head Monitors; two, “adding a third person adds a significant logistical load to the Head Monitors;” and three, “having three people reduces any need to compromise” because two Head Monitors can always overrule the third.

GASP, who was consulted on the potential changes to the constitution, voted 9-2 in favor of a two Head Monitor system. One member criticized the amendment and said, “Speaking as a trans person, I believe it’s important that the SGA gain a better understanding of trans people and issues. Based on the language of the document, it feels as if people, rather than putting any effort into actually understanding what it is to be transgender, merely want to not seem transphobic.”

Supporters and drafters of the three head monitor proposal, including SGA Secretary JP Schuster (I) and Day Monitor Mark Bodner (I), believed their plan would have promoted greater gender representation and inclusivity while increasing the SGA’s effectiveness. In their statement on revisiting the SGA’s Gender Amendment, a provision of last year’s Amendment that must be met by 2018, they write that “This system ensures that the two majorities––male and female––will be represented by a head monitor, while also allowing non-binary students to hold the head monitor position without outing themselves as non-binary to the student body (if they do not want to).” A member of GASP who supported this proposal argues that “with a three person system, there is a possibility for a male, female, and GNC/GNB/GQ rep for each class, and this system will make sure that every identity is represented. With the two person system, there is a risk of having two male reps for instance, which would be unbalanced and unfair.” It is important to note that this amendment would not have changed anything about topics relating to Class Reps and that one of the concerns raised in the SGA was that this amendment was not a comprehensive solution that applied to every level of SGA leadership.

The SGA meeting on March 2nd was a contentious affair that highlighted the strong feelings of members of the SGA council on both sides of the issue. They addressed changing the proposed wording in Article VI from “reveal their gender identity to one adult” to “one counselor” and also discussed the protocol in the event of vacancies caused by the DC’ing of one of the Head Monitors. In general, support within the SGA over the three Head Monitor system seemed weaker than the prior week, and in the March 7th meeting, the SGA voted 12 to 0 against the three Head Monitor proposal and for a two different gender system that would apply to all positions except Boarding Monitor. Neither JP nor Mark were present for the vote. The SGA plans on sending out details to this new system before break and will hold a referendum after break when school resumes.

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Posted by Caleb Rhodes on Mar 9 2017. Filed under Featured. 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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