EDITORIAL: Give Students voice

EDITORIAL: Give Students voice


Students’ voices have been drowned out of decision making for most of RHS’ recent history. Begging the question, do we even have a voice anymore?

This disempowerment of students comes in a period of mass exodus from RHS to schools that are perceived to offer more to the students. More freedom of choice. And yet RHS decision makers continue to make choices for the school that, from the student perspective, have been seen as more reasons to leave or to discourage future generations from coming.

One of the most recent decisions that students were left out of, changing ROAR to mandatory priority period and closing common areas for good, was made to control student behavior on campus. The change has been almost universally despised by students all over the spectrum. Those who used ROAR for its intended purpose have now been stripped of the benefits it brought them. And those who used it for ulterior purposes have lost nothing, thus begs the question. What did this change really do for student behavior? 

The point is that this change impacted students in a way that could have been avoided had student input been considered. 

Students are rarely asked for their input in a way that will actually get results. A single email to students with a survey hidden in the sixth hyperlink of the ninth email of the week is not good enough.

And more often than not, it feels like whoever is making the decision is asking for “input,” so they can say they asked rather than actually seeking sincere input on their most recent brainchild. 

We are not saying that every student needs to be asked individually. Or implying that if more action is taken, every student will even care. But the students that care, the students that know they’re being impacted, the students the school is trying to keep and draw in… Those are the students who need to be included. 

This issue of student voice is deeply ingrained in why RHS continues to hemorrhage students. We are not empowered to have an opinion or to care about our school or community.

We are told to shut up and sit quietly. 

Time and time again, we see classes cut despite the school’s ability to offer them, like the Expository Reading and Writing Course – ERWC which was cut to limit the choices students have in their senior year. We see changes to aspects of RHS that are beloved by students changed with no reasons or options given. We see bandaid solutions for problems that require more nuance rather than the recently heavy-handed, quick decisions we have received, like the previously mentioned changes to ROAR. 

We are told that changes are happening. 

We are forced to deal with decisions made by people who do not experience RHS the same way we do.

We are never asked to be a part of the solution.

However, this runs deeper than just the decisions made at the administrative level. Student organizations such as Student Government perpetuate this same issue. 

For example input for dances begins and ends with the theme and court. Simply a bone which has been thrown out to students. 

But this small gesture still leaves many in the dark, and outcast from being able to participate as the one of the only events many students will get is Homecoming/Casaba court and even then there are only eight winners from a court of 40 people. Meaning less than 3% of students are actually impacted. 

Dances can be improved if we were asked to give feedback. But we are not.

Events can be improved if we were asked to give feedback. But we are not.

The continued disappointment is not helped by the defiant choice to not open the doors to more input from students who may be able to shed light on how to make events better. 

Students can give valuable input, if they are asked. But they are not.

While, admittedly, this is on a smaller scale than the previously discussed issues at the administrative level. It simply goes to show how little weight student voice carries.

How really every choice that impacts us is being made by a small few with only slight gestures made to appease the masses. 

Why are we not being asked “how can these things be improved?”

In the current public view, it seems as though they don’t care enough to ask us what we think. 

But despite this negative public perception, they continue to leave us wondering what’s going on behind their closed doors.

Furthermore, when students are asked for input – whether from administration or Student Government – their voices are often ignored because the decision-makers involved do not like the feedback they are getting. 

The voice of the greater is ignored. 

The decision-makers at RHS are not willing to kill their darlings which has only worked to hurt, not just their credibility in the eyes of students, but the entirety of RHS’ culture.

Recently, RHS and the Alumni Association have spent some time and lots of money to renovate Admin’s front lounge, hallway and the external library windows. This update was a vast improvement and was done to restore the history and culture of RHS. Giving the school a facelift, for lack of better words. 

But the update also lacks an understanding that we, as RHS, shouldn’t be relying on our past to maintain the present culture. We should be allowing the school culture to evolve with its students and their current accomplishments.

Additionally, this update, while making the school look beautiful, exemplifies the exact way in which the school approaches the ever-looming issue of our less-than-beautiful campus culture. That being, make a change that very few asked for and call it a day. It shows that we, the perceived “old school,” are stuck in the past.

All of these recent decisions have a common theme. 

No one asked us what we, the students, wanted for the school.

No one asked us how we thought we could help RHS grow as a school.

No one asked us what we, the current generation of RHS, want. 

Instead, Administration, Student Government and the leaders of RHS continue to make unilateral decisions with little to no care for us, the students living the experience. 

It is no wonder the school is suffering from an epidemic of students transferring out, both current and incoming, a plague of vandalism, and, worst of all, classes filled with apathy. The school does not care about our opinion, so why should we care?