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The Scribe: Editorial

By James MacArthur

The original purpose of having the Town Meeting was to ensure for everyone a say in the running of the town government. At Solebury, this democratic institution functions quite well. Unfortunately, however, the student body does not appreciate what they have.

At most other schools in the immediate area the form of government practiced is the student council. In this form only a few participate. However, these few are elected by their peers and are probably the best qualified for the office. Yet this is not nearly as democratic as our system.

In America, we have a bi-cameral representative form of government, not unlike the student council form of government. But this was formed not because there were too many people for everyone to have a say in the government but because it was impossible for so many people to gather at one time.

At Solebury, there are approximately 160 members of Town Meeting, most of whom cannot meet and discuss a question seriously. There are many reasons why we have not been able to achieve this. These problems must be met and solved.

The first of these problems is the diversity of age. A seventh grader cannot cope with the problems of school life as well as seniors can. Therefore, it is a rare occasion when a seventh grader raises his hand to speak except to make a motion for the adjournment of the meeting. In fact, the whole lower school is quite inactive in Town Meeting. This is not the fault of the younger students; it is more to the blame of the older ones, who have watched, and been a part of Town Meeting since its genesis four years ago. Their frivolous attitude has influenced the younger students to become members of the “Who cares” party.

To solve this problem, it is proposed that a new system be inaugurated. We propose two houses of government, a bi-cameral system instead of the uni cameral system which now exists. There will be a president of the Lower House and a president of the Upper House, with the president of the Upper House being the head of both houses. The Lower House will consist of the three lower grades and the Upper House, the three upper grades. The Lower House will meet the day before the Upper House, and all questions discussed and motions passed will be subject to ratification by the Upper House. The president of the Upper House and two others, whom the president shall choose, will go as members only to the meeting of the Lower House, and the president of the Lower House, and two, will go to the meeting of the Upper.

The second problem is the prominence of Town Meeting as a school activity. The main cause for prominence being lost is the irregularity of the meetings. A definite time must be set and maintained at all costs. Up to this time, athletics and drama have pushed Town Meeting out of the way quite regularly.

However, the worst feature of the Town Meeting is the meeting itself. Even though a new constitution was adopted and brought into use at the beginning of the school year, the meetings have not been as they should be.

To solve these problems, the following proposals are made:

1) The diversity of age.

Proposed Solution: A bi-cameral system with the Lower House having a president who is in charge of only the Lower House, and who goes with two others whom he shall choose to the meetings of the Upper House. The secretary of the Lower House shall present the secretary of the Upper House with the minutes before the meeting of the Upper House. The Lower House will not have committees of its own, but the members of this house will serve on the committees of the Upper House, but they will have their own faculty advisor.

2) The regularity of the meetings.

So that there will be no interference with the meetings, it is proposed that the lower house meeting be held on Wednesday and the upper house meeting Thursday, during the eighth period. This will require no scheduling of any other activities during this time that will in any way interfere with these meetings.

3) The meetings.

To coordinate the meetings, it is proposed that anyone who wishes to bring up a question in Town Meeting must give the moderator at least twenty-four hours’ notice. This is no way hampers the freedom of speech, which is the right of each member. It simply will made the meeting run more smoothly.

We believe that if these proposals are carried out, the student government will function as it should. There is always a certain amount of opposition to authority, but if people would realize that in this case their opposition is against themselves, it would die a natural death. The possibilities of Town Meeting as a “real” student government are manifold, but we must show the faculty and administration that we, the students, are serious about it.

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