Is the Student Council for me?
Welcome to Year Five! If you’re reading this article, I presume you’re either (a) thinking about running for the Student Council, or (b) have decided on running, and are looking for more information about the things that it does, or both. Whichever it is, I hope that this article will provide you new insights into the workings of the Student Council; clarifying misconceptions, and helping you make a more informed choice regarding the next two years of your life.
Given that you are all IB students with many constraints on your time, I’ve tried to keep this as short as possible. If you require any further or more up-to-date information, it may help to approach a current councillor.
Before applying to join the Student Council, you may be asking yourself, “What is expected of the Student Council?” or “What is the commitment like in the Student Council?” More importantly, I hope you are also asking “Why do I want to join the Student Council?” Hopefully the following points will be useful to you as you make your considerations.
Student Councillors are expected to be role models for the student body. High standards are set for their behaviour, and discipline, as well as their academics. Student Councillors are expected to be proactive, and to have the integrity and steadfastness to do what is right, regardless of popular opinion or pressure.
Furthermore, Student Councillors are expected to be humble Servant Leaders, with a heart of service. They are expected to have a passion for, empathy with, and loyalty to, the school and the people and values it stands for. Additionally, as a Student Councillor, your life will not be glamorous; you will be expected to engage in many thankless, behind-the-scenes jobs, and be diligent when pushed outside of your comfort zone. Please only apply if you believe you can meet these expectations.
The beauty of the CCA policy in ACS (Independent) is that you can take on as many CCAs as you want – so long as you can manage it. Do note that whilst the level of commitment can vary according to the role you wish to play, simply being in the Student Council still requires considerable commitment. You may have to attend meetings one day, and help the school facilitate a function the next. You may have to visit and liaise with external organisations one week, and organise an event the next. The intensity of these commitments varies over time. Understandably, this may pose a challenge if you intend to take up some other high-commitment CCA, or are struggling with your academics, so please decide wisely.
Submitting your Application
Once you have decided to apply, pick up an application form and submit it as soon as possible. Remember to check that all details are (a) filled in, and (b) correct. Also remember to attach the relevant documents and photographs as required. Applications can and will be rejected because of a failure to provide the necessary information. Contact the relevant people in advance if you are unable to provide the details needed.
With the large number of applicants every year, the selection process has to be rigorous and fair in order to choose the people most suitable for the Student Council. Broadly, the process comprises the mentoring phase, interviews, the selection camp, as well as an election by the student body.
During the mentoring phase, you will shadow a Student Councillor as he or she goes about their morning duties. Observations will be made on any tardiness, and your general attitude towards serving in the Student Council. Where available, you may also be called upon to assist the Student Council and the School in organising or facilitating an event.
Due to the abbreviated nature of the mentorship phase, interviews are held to give Student Councillors a better insight into your motivations and abilities. The Student Council takes interviews very seriously and seeks to give the most equitable experience to every applicant. Multiple interviewers will be present and the interview may be recorded for posterity.
As a personal tip, whilst interviews, by nature, have wide-ranging selection criteria, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of your body language and tone. Be interested, be earnest, be informed.
Organising a camp allows the Student Council to assess you roundly by placing you in situations of stress, or those similar to the ones you might experience as a Councillor. Various metrics and activities, varying year-on-year, will be used to assess you; be prepared to go out of your comfort zone and showcase your leadership potential.
Collectively, the mentoring, interviews, and camp will assess your suitability to stand for elections.
The final step to becoming a Student Councillor is standing for election. Whilst it may appear to be solely a popularity contest, this routinely underestimates the student population’s ability to discern between “popularity” and “competence”. Typically, you will see that the Student Councillors-elect command the confidence of their peers in their abilities and willingness to serve more so than anything else.
As a disclaimer, campaigning is likely to be the most stressful part of the selection process. Prior arrangements to campaign with your friends may not be possible as one person may not have made through to the elections phase. Competition, whilst friendly, is still a source of pressure. However, once you’re past this phase, Congratulations! You’ve made it to the Student Council.
Subsequently, both cohorts of the Student Council will gather to elect the leadership of the body. Candidates are nominated by their peers, and they will have to give a speech before the election proper. The number of people in the Executive Committee (ExCo) may vary, but as of late it has hovered around 7 people. Once elected, these 7 will pass through a selection process with the Senior Administration and Council Teacher-Advisors, who will assign each person to his or her post within the ExCo.
These posts are, namely, President, 3 Vice-Presidents, Welfare, Human Resource, and Secretary.
Serving the School Body
The Student Council is organised into several ad-hoc sub-committees to plan various events. They will minimally have one event in Year Five and one event in Year Six. This is on top of new initiatives they may wish to start, and other commitments and duties. These responsibilities can be broadly categorised into the following:
This is the most routine duty of the lot; you will have to report to school earlier, chase out the classes you are assigned to, and subsequently patrol in your designated areas, watching out for/ catching late-comers. Additionally, ExCo members may have pledge/ assembly duties, and will patrol over wider areas to check Councillors’ attendance.
As with school functions such as Founder’s Day, Honours’ Day, the Methodist Schools’ Get-together, and various other events, Student Councillors and Prefects will be called upon to provide assistance to the school. Depending on the event, this can include ushering, logistics, car-parking, among others. The frequency and intensity of these events largely depends on the importance of the event, and its place in the school calendar.
As student leaders, you are also expected to have a firm grasp of the school cheers, and be expected to mobilise the school to cheer during sporting events. This will push you out of your comfort zone, and you may encounter a reluctant crowd. However, the role you play is vital in helping boost the morale of the players on the field, and, whilst it may be tiring, it will certainly be worth your while.
The amount of effort required for event-planning really depends on the nature and scale of the event. Some, including Project Infinity and the ACS(Independent) Youth Leaders Conference (ACYLC), may also require liaising with external organisations. You will be required to put in effort to attend meetings and planning sessions, as well as rehearsals and run-throughs that are necessitated by a good and well-planned event. You will also take on various roles in these planning committees; and may even have the chance to start your own initiative.
Past events include: Orientation, ACSFactor, Prom, Teachers Day, Custodians Day, ACYLC, Project Infinity, ChillACS, PC Lessons, Anglolympics, Cross-Country, the Graduating Leaders Appreciation Dinner, Student Council Investiture, ACSpeak, Student Council Selections, and Leadership Training. In the 2013 – 2014 term, we also initiated the IndepOnline platform, as well as our internal Film Squad outfit, and our own contributions to the House system in ACS (Independent).
There is a lot of room for experimentation and the resources to realise your own initiatives are freely available to you. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to try!
Other Ways to Serve the School Body
If you are unsuccessful in your run for Student Council, don’t be too upset. There are many ways in which you can contribute to the School Body, some of which may include working with the Student Council. For instance, Orientation Group Leaders and facilitators for ACYLC will be selected from the student body. There are also numerous leadership positions available in school, whether in class or in CCA.
For the 8th IB batch, there were also a group of students who banded together to bring new initiatives to the school, such as anonymously giving personalised helium balloons to every student on the last day of school in 2013, as well as creating a very noticeable pathway filled with motivational messages to encourage the cohort amid IAs and EEs and whatnot. As long as you have the heart to serve, you will find a way to serve.
Year 5 and 6 will be a very exciting and fun time for you. If you find it in yourself to lead through service, I am sure the Student Council will be an excellent opportunity for you to develop your potential. However, please consider carefully your motivations for joining the Student Council, and weigh out the trade-offs you are making with a good understanding of the consequences of your actions.
Regardless of whether you join, please remember that as an ACSian, you still have the potential to be a Scholar, Leader, Global Citizen; a catalyst for change, for God and humanity. Remember to always look up and never be daunted by failure; as we all know, The Best Is Yet To Be!
All the best, and remember to have fun!
Lee Kay Howe served as Vice President of the Student Council (2013-2014)