A Culture of Democracy: What it Means to be President

The student body presidential elections are supposed to stand as the landmark event in our school’s democracy. It’s our greatest institutionalized opportunity as students to affect the direction of our school. But in days and months past, students have been taking actions themselves to affect change at Hotchkiss.
All-school Presidents are arguably in the best position to affect school policy. However, the democratic process does not end there. The only question is, what can students do outside of elections to make their voices heard?
The answer is easy to find; in fact, it’s stuck to the wall three feet from the Deans’ Wing. The impromptu protest on Monday represents how quickly and willingly our fellow students will coalesce to advocate for change. Say what you want about our community – we certainly do not shy away from challenging authority. As a result of the school’s political turmoil this year, students are as actively involved in school policy as ever.
Without a doubt, there’s a culture of democracy at Hotchkiss. There’s an innate belief that every individual voice matters and that a group of people who unifies behind an idea can make a difference. This culture does not steer us away from conflict. Instead, it does something even better: Once the conflict is resolved, we are left with resolutions that are better than what we had before. Our democratic culture allows us to continually improve this institution and make it more reflective of what we students value.
The presidents’ job is to hone that democratic spirit and communicate our desires with the administration. Luke and Maggie, we have chosen you to be the conduits between the students and the faculty. It’s a job that comes with a number of challenges. In order to conquer the barriers of bureaucracy, you’ll need patience, understanding, perseverance, intelligence, and creativity. But the students of this school chose you specifically because we believe you possess those qualities. Your job is to take our democratic ethos and turn it into concrete change – no easy task, but we trust in you to do it.
So are student government elections the end-all, be-all of Hotchkiss democracy? The decision is ours. Our voices can only be heard when we use them. All signs point to a culture of democracy that has only grown in intensity and broadened in scope. Luke and Maggie, good luck. The future of our democracy is in your hands.