Keeping Up With the Stu-Fac Constitution

Over the last seven months, Stu-Fac has made campus news multiple times, as students and faculty have worked together to reflect student input in school policies. This year, one of the more pressing concerns has been the need to update the Stu-Fac Constitution, which was made apparent earlier this year during the interdorming policy controversy. To ensure that major school policies are not changed without consultation with the student body, current leaders are amending to the Constitution.
Student leaders first examined the process by which a policy is altered to determine what is included in the process. School President Caitlin Reilly ’19 said, “We realized the constitution was quite old and did not apply to Hotchkiss’s current state. We tried to build off of the old version, and we added to it to help the current-day needs. We strengthened leadership roles for students to give students [a stronger, clearer voice].”
Stu-Fac is a town-hall-style space in which students raise concerns, express hopes for change, and contribute to discussions of important issues at school. Student leaders also collaborate with administrators and faculty members on ideas that need to be translated into proposals. Zach Scrima ’22, Prep class co-president, said, “[I am able to use Stu-Fac] to represent [the Prep class] and their general thoughts and feelings about any subject matters that are discussed.”
The last Stu-Fac Constitution contained a scattered list of responsibilities and few established school principles. The school’s student leaders hope to make the new document more like a governmental constitution, laying out paths for student leaders to make proposals and outlining the appropriate power balance between students and faculty. In the new proposal, student council members’ roles and responsibilities will be clarified and a presidential impeachment procedure will be added. Pai and Reilly hope that improving the constitution will help facilitate student-faculty relationships. Pai said, “We are just hoping that it will help the people [who] come after us.”
Another topic recently covered in Stu-Fac meetings has been the possibility of bringing back student sleepovers. Before the 2018-2019 school year, policy permitted sleepovers. However, some dorm-faculty felt it was difficult to be responsible for more students than they were used to – sometimes there could be huge groups of students sleeping over in a single room. Many students have expressed their desire for sleepovers to be allowed again, so the school presidents have met with dorm heads as well as Mrs. Heather Perrenoud, dean of residential life, to discuss the possibility. The presidents have also met with other student leaders involved in Stu-Fac to create a proposal, which is almost completed. Scrima said, “As a student who has never experienced Hotchkiss sleepovers, it seems so bizarre that they existed just a year before. Most people I have talked to approve of the idea of bringing sleepovers back, so it is rather easy to picture their return.”
Dr. Art Gibb III ’85, dean of community life, says the status of sleepovers cannot yet be predicted, since they make it difficult for faculty to keep track of students and can be an unpleasant experience for students left out. Dr. Gibb understands that many students feel sleepovers can be some of the best nights at a place like boarding school and a good way to strengthen friendships, but he is not sure whether or not they will return. If sleepovers turn out to be impractical, Stu-Fac might be able to reach a compromise, however. Dr. Gibb said, “For instance, [we could allow] students to check in at 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night in any dorm and go back to their dorm at midnight. One of the most compelling reasons to bring them back would be [for] the upperclass proctors in lowerclass dorms who are missing out on being with friends; could we make that a privilege for upperclass proctors since that lowers the numbers involved? They are assumed to be more responsible, so this might [work].”
Pai and Reilly have been working on other changes, including the addition of study tables on the second floor of Main Building. Students have complained that, during study hall, and especially during midterms or final exams, there is not enough space to study in classrooms or the library. The goal is to open up the whole second floor of Main Building to be used as study space, though some details, such as who will supervise the space, need to be finalized.
During the last few weeks of the school year, the presidents hope to include some surprise auditoriums to engage the student body. They will also be deciding the prize for the Olympian-Pythian battle soon, which is something for all students to keep in mind as the final competitions of the year approach.
The Stu-Fac meeting occurs weekly in the Faculty Lounge on Monday at 7 p.m. As members of student government and faculty draft the new constitution, all students can attend Stu-Fac or talk to their class presidents for updates.