Confidence In No Confidence

New Student Government Proposal Hold Administrators Accountable


Photo credit: Harry Lowitz

Arjun Kalra speaks about the vote of no confidence proposal during Student Government.

Parker is an “embryonic democracy.” A democracy is a government that gives power to the people. In the latest step towards giving the people (a.k.a. the students) more power, junior and Senate Head Arjun Kalra drafted a new Student Government proposal.

On February 17, a Plenary was held, and after the regular questions, comments, and amendments periods, voting procedure to pass the Vote of No Confidence Proposal began.

The proposal passed by 89.55%, meaning that the ability to hold an administrator accountable for an action that goes against the school values will be permanently written into the SG constitution.

Like past Student Government proposals, this one aims to fill a gap that Kalra believes exists in the SG Constitution. However, the exact goal of the proposal, should it pass, would be something that Parker has never done before. The Vote of No Confidence proposal is about giving students a say when they feel administrators need to be held accountable.

“The purpose of the proposal is to help keep the administrator responsible for their actions.” Kalra said. “The Student Body has teachers and administrators above them, teachers similarly have the administration above them, but administrators don’t have that same kind of oversight. The idea of this proposal is to exert power over that process to create oversight specifically for the administrators.”

Kalra said that the administration’s handling of an incident several years ago gave him the feeling that the students should have a formal tool to pursue redress or explanation from administrators. 

The proposal outlines a change to the Constitution that would enable students to make dissatisfaction known about a member of the school’s administration after an “egregious act,” to hold the administrator accountable and to make others aware of the incident in question.

In the case of an administrator or the Dean of Students (who technically is not an administrator) committing an “egregious act,” a student could draft a formal complaint that would be discussed with the Cabinet and then taken to the rest of the upper school student body to be discussed during Plenary. 

To prevent overuse of the vote of no confidence, there have to be at least three clauses in the complaint drafted. This could either be three separate students experiencing the issue with the administrator, or three repeats of the same/similar incidents. The aggrieved student(s) could choose to stay anonymous through the whole process, revealing their identity to one member of Cabinet at most. 

The administrator would be given time to correct their actions, but if the Cabinet felt that sufficient progress had not been made, the conversation would come back to Plenary. According to Kalra, this decision is made when, “the aggrieved party is satisfied.” Should the student(s) feel unsatisfied with the work the administrator had done, though, a vote of no confidence would be held with every member of the upper school voting on whether or not the administrator is capable of doing their job. If the vote passes, a formal complaint would be sent to the Board of Trustees, as well as the information surrounding the circumstances being sent to the student body and the faculty

On January 27, a Plenary was held and On January 27, a Plenary was held and Kalra briefly explained the proposal. However, Cabinet foresaw this as a complex enough issue that only an introduction would not suffice. After Kalra’s introduction, Plenary transitioned into Small Groups, so that students could talk about the proposal.

Small Groups were led by student facilitators as well as students who were members of Cabinet. Every group was asked the same set of questions regarding the proposal, mostly about their opinions and what they thought the pros and cons were. Students had a range of opinions.

“I don’t like it, necessarily, but I see how it could be effective in certain situations,” an anonymous student said. “I don’t think it would cause any issue if it were passed.”

“I understand the concerns, but I think it is an important mechanism to have in the Constitution,” sophomore Beckett Nikitas said. “Even if it is never used, it is a lot easier to have something in place for an unforeseen event rather than have to react to something that we didn’t see.”

Nikitas is one of the students who views the proposal as important and helpful. “It is an important step to make sure that the student body has a voice in the event that something should occur where we feel it necessary to display our frustration with the administration when they are not properly responding to something,” Nikitas said.

Upper school students hold different opinions about whether or not the proposal will benefit the Parker community. Upper school students hold different opinions about whether or not the proposal will benefit the Parker community. Not every student is in favor of the proposal.

“I think it’s a very interesting proposal, but I truly believe that it gives students too much power,” an anonymous student said. “I think Parker allows students to make a lot of changes and do a lot of things, but I think this just extends a little too far out of our reach. We are only teenagers and shouldn’t have the power to make such a life-altering change for an adult who messes up or something.”

“The student body has no power to remove a person from office,” Kalra said. “The language and the dissemination of the information are what really give the proposal its teeth.”