Editorial

The time has come to drop student rep at city meetings

“Eighty percent of life is just showing up.” — Woody Allen

School board student reps Matthew Chubb and Ava Makowski

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

The time finally has come for the Wayland City Council to give up on the noble effort of having a student representative sit in on meetings.

There’s no question that there’s a valid reason for including the youth of the community take part in local government affairs, but there comes a time when the drive to have such a feature is too cumbersome and too difficult to implement. And you can blame good old apathy, a frequent culprit in too many failures to organize something inclusive for the town we live in.

Over the past two years, it has been more than difficult to get young folks to show up at the meetings and present their reports on what’s happening at the schools. Perhaps too many of these kinds of students are busy with other obligations, such as sports, theater, music or other activities.

Yet the student representatives at school board meetings don’t seem to share the problem of just showing up.

During the last dozen years I’ve been covering City Council meetings, I have noticed the student rep portion of the sessions has been hit and miss at best and “they no show up” at worst. It amounts to nothing more than an awkward silence when the that part of the agenda arrives.

It would be too easy to place blame on individuals. Other than apathy, I would suggest that city business also doesn’t seem to attract local youth like school business does.

At any rate, council members over the past several years have taken notice and I remember Mayor Jennifer Antel bemoaning the fact that it’s been difficult to get that student rep, regardless of who he or she is, to make an appearance.

Furthermore, I just don’t see how city officials can be as interested as the school board members are in school students’ news and affairs. Too often what they report when they do show up is old news, an oxymoron.

I am sorry to make this suggestion, but maybe the time has come to drop the student representative feature at City Council meetings, while keeping them in place for Board of Education. 

7 Comments

  • I don’t think you need to remove it rather it needs to become more widely known among students that this is an opportunity. I am currently a Pre-law student at SVSU and and Alumna of Wayland, I never once heard of this until after I graduated. Also, civic engagement in local government and participation is low among not only young individuals but everyone. What is needed is more education on local govenrment and how people can get involved. Its not the removal of students and young people the city council.

  • They need to be more informed on when the meetings are and what content the Board would like to see. They report what is going on and what the students are doing. If more is wanted, then tell them. It is no different than the Board members saying thank you to someone in one sentence and then sitting down. Are each and every Board member there each week? No. Perhaps the student reps need more guidance and substance from their leaders, not to end the program. Show them by example.

  • You talk about City Council representation going down for the last few years; yet publish a picture of the current student reps of the Board of education. Student shaming is not cool! Are the two the same? No but you assume reps are the same. Did you interview either student? Did you ask at the council meeting about this or the board? From the fb comments it seems to be two different set of reps. With the students involved in the DDA maybe they don’t have reps anymore., as someone suggested. Do you know? Did you ask anyone? I hope these two students pictured take this article as uniformed as written and are not bothered by the fact this article is crap! I just addressed the board in my first comment but same goes for council reps. Guide them instead of disparaging them.

  • It’s a bs position. If they really wanted student involvement they would have them attend the non public meetings. The public meeting is just a dog and pony.

  • I don’t think it’s fair to attack minors. And yet you provide no data. How many meetings have the students attended? How many have they missed? The only thing good about this article is that you acknowledge it’s simply your opinion, and we all know opinions are like assholes… Most of them stink, we all have them, and we usually don’t need to see anybody else’s.

  • I am disappointed in this article. Over the years each student representative has brought something different to the table. They are stepping up to serve their community where others have not. Our current student, like others before her, is very busy and has often sent the report in when she has had conflicts making her unable to attend our meetings. The Council appreciates her and her service. I believe having another voice at the table is valuable and I intend to continue to offer a seat to a Wayland Union school representative.

  • As I commented on Facebook, my son was previously the student rep for City Council. When he was participating, it was a completely separate commitment than the student rep(s) for School Board. The experience he gained as a student has proven to be instrumental to leadership opportunities in college and beyond.

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