The KO administration implements numerous programs and initiatives to improve student life and the school overall. All with good intentions.
However, it is clear that while some succeed and leave a lasting impact on students and the community, others do not.
A crucial role of the administration is to determine which initiatives to pursue and which to abandon.
An example that springs to mind is the attempted implementation of a midterm schedule this winter, which stretched over six weeks and generally inflicted unnecessary pain and suffering on students. A KO News survey collected over 200 student opinions about the schedule. Overall, those surveyed concluded that the schedule exacerbated normal exam-related stress and made the weeks leading up to Winter break even more overwhelming.
To its credit, the administration took student outcry to heart, recognizing that, while well-intended, this year’s schedule was a failure.
Faculty members have already begun the, perhaps difficult, process of fixing the exam schedule.
Recognizing one’s failures is something that we, as students, are told constantly. “Failure is normal, something to be expected, something to learn from, etc. etc.” It is admirable that the administration practices what it preaches.
An important component of the midterm “situation” is the presence or lack of student involvement. One of the main reasons students disliked the schedule was that it was thrust upon them. They had no voice.
KO had not utilized midterms for several years and the decision to bring them back was made by adults and did not involve students at all. Of course, this decisions wasn’t malicious in nature.
However, the schedule would have certainly benefited from student representation and feedback.
Perhaps recognizing a lost opportunity, in the wake of the midterms and the survey, the administration began to seek out student voices and has begun to integrate student and faculty feedback to create a more effective and less stressful schedule.
Another example of one of the administration’s abandoned initiatives is the ban on phones in advisee group earlier this year. In the majority of cases, it’s safe to say that the enforcement of this rule has fizzled out.
Students don’t abide by the rule and advisors are reluctant to enforce it. From the beginning, the ban seemed poorly-thought out, considering that students’ laptops can function in the same ways as their phones.
In this sense, KO’s programs and initiatives are subject to a certain amount of almost “democratic” pressure from students. Students tend to support good policies and oppose bad ones. This trend, of course, is not always the case.
And this is why students should only have a partial say in how KO is run, why we have an administration at all.
Unpopular proposals, can end up benefiting students and the community overall, despite initial pushback.
One such example is the lunch duty program initiated last year. While certainly unpopular, students have by and large accepted the responsibility by now and the issue isn’t one on many students’ minds.
In exchange for students “putting up” with these sorts of obligations, the administration is generally responsive to students’ concerns and allows students to pursue their own initiatives.
Teachers, for instance, were flexible and allowed the school walkout on Friday, April 20 to run smoothly, sacrificing class time to enable students to follow their passions and utilize their voices to stand up for an issue of great importance.
KO also respected students’ voices after announcing the discontinuation of the captain boards in September.
Through a survey and various other means of advocacy, students vocalized their opposition, stating that the boards represent a positive and time-honored Kingswood Oxford tradition, and the school listened.
Maybe one of the reasons that the school’s administration is relatively responsive to students’ opinions is that KO specifically aims to empower students to not only hold opinions but to express them. As a result, in most cases, the school tends to respect student input.
Ultimately, the difficulty lies in determining which initiatives are unpopular but necessary and which are unpopular and unnecessary.
Toeing the line can be difficult and failure is, perhaps, to be expected.
However, student involvement and feedback should be a factor in major decisions moving forward.
New perspectives are always helpful in fully understanding the potential and often unintended effects of a program, which will ultimately produce better decisions in the future.