The Student Voice Committee Goes Silent


Fights, strikes, walkouts, and distrust. This year was meant to be a fresh start without a quarantine hangover, but if anything, the problems of last year continue to grip the MLA community. 

The student voice committee was meant to be – if not a cure- then a treatment for the issues that plague our school. Yet how many people attended these committee meetings, and when did they happen? When did the last one even take place, and how are they conducted? Most importantly, how much of the school was truly aware that the committee existed in the first place?

The committee lasted a grand total of one month, meeting a piteous four times, with the first one taking place in January of this year and the most recent one taking place in the middle of February. With each meeting, the rate of attendance only got worse. The first time the student voice committee took place only four students entered room 312 explicitly for the meeting – a dozen others were only there because that’s where they usually spend their 5th-period lunch. No students attended the second meeting, and the third meeting only included the previous group of students just wanting to eat their lunch. The only real outcome that can be directly tied to it had to do with the senior grade level Disney on Ice trip as well as the upcoming Main Event trip.

Needless to say, the outcome of this attempt was disappointing, to say the least, if it was meant to act as a remedy for school-wide issues. The biggest culprit for its failure was seemingly the lack of awareness outside of the senior high school level that it even existed. In all four of the meetings, not a single junior, sophomore, or freshman was present to give their feedback. The existence of the student voice committee was only really announced one time in the daily announcements and through school emails from Ms. Novy and posters around the first floor and Ms. Roasario’s room but nowhere else.

Lack of awareness isn’t the only reason why the committee failed, however. In a small survey asking the journalism class about if they knew or went to the student voice committee, 89% stated they did with 18% answering no. Most knew through 6th-period announcements, and a few heard from teachers or emails sent by admin. 89% answered that they did not go and 18% stated they did. When asked why they didn’t go most answers stated they didn’t feel like they could add anything meaningful to the meetings while one answered that “No matter how hard the staff tries to fix things it does not work.” It is important to note most of the class consisted of seniors and one junior at the time of the survey.  When Ariana Serrano, the battalion S-5 student in charge of taking pictures of school events across all grade levels, was asked how many students she believed were aware of the committee, she stated, “Maybe like thirty to forty percent of the school knew, and most of them didn’t even go because they feel like they’d still be ignored.” 


Pie Chart Showing how many students knew about the committee.
Pie Chart Depicting How Many Students didn’t attend

This claim can be corroborated by the lengthy but productive interview with Mr. Eagle, the grade level lead for senior events, and the teacher whose classroom was used for the committees. “I don’t think most students even know it exists, when it exists, or what time it’s at.” Eagle goes on to say, “What frustrates me is that during lunch or in class, students would complain about the school. Some very legitimate concerns, some not so legitimate.”

This begs the question of why the committee wasn’t successful, particularly with senior students, most of whom were aware of the committee’s existence. Was it that they didn’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions directly to the administration and instead confided in teachers they felt comfortable with to voice their grievances, particularly with Mr. Eagle? Or perhaps this can come down to the already-strained relationship between seniors, particularly, and administration?

So we can guess at the reasons the committee fell short, but what can be done to fix it? Well, to start off, more people need to be reminded of the committee. Announcing that the meeting is taking place at the start of every lunch period is a good idea. Cadet staff can easily remind cadets to go to the meetings during formation since they always happen every other week on Monday.

The way the committee itself is organized could also be reworked. CPS already has a guide available on their website on ways to run a successful student voice committee. Conducting research and coordinating plans are effective ways of improving relations between students and the administration for a successful committee.. Of course, these are large and time-consuming steps that are best implemented at the start or middle of a school year, and of course, the end of the school year is fast approaching. For now, there are small steps that could be taken to greatly improve the voice committee. Mr. Eagle suggested one or two student representatives from each grade level outside of cadet staff. These student reps could take in concerns, comments, or suggestions from fellow cadets about how the school can improve. In the words of Mr. Eagle “less military and more student government.”. This would be most effective with eager underclassmen who want to prove themselves as capable leaders making sure all grade levels are heard. 

Cadets are still unsatisfied with the state of MLA, but change isn’t impossible and the reasons the committee fell through can easily be fixed if there were another attempt at a student voice committee. There should be another voice committee. It is not impossible and in fact very achievable for both admin and cadets to meet halfway. There’s a reason the school is called “Marine Leadership Academy” and if we aren’t fostering and striving for leadership at every chance, then what are we?