The Wagner Presidency

Carter Wagner Prepares for 2020-21 Student Government

The+Wagner+Presidency

With the new school year comes a new year of Student Government, and senior Carter Wagner will look to bring a new perspective as Student Body President. Last spring, Wagner was elected president after an unconventional and socially distant election season.

The new Cabinet has met three times over the summer. They have discussed how to make Student Government work with the restrictions of COVID-19 and specifically how Student Government will have to function remotely.

Plenary will be on Thursday afternoons, as is shown in the new remote learning schedule. “We were fighting a little bit to make sure that Student Government had a spot,” Wagner said. 

Wagner described the goals he and Cabinet have when it comes to making Student Government work this year. “First off, it’s how to make sure students are engaged and then, after that, how to make sure Student Government is productive,” Wagner said.

For Student Government to prosper, there needs to be Student engagement.”

— Carter Wagner

One program that will be placed is incentivizing coming to plenary and engaging in plenary, possibly with raffles and prizes. “For Student Government to prosper, there needs to be Student engagement,” Wagner said.

To make that student engagement possible, Wagner thinks that this year’s Student Government Media Manager (SGMM), junior Mia Bronstein, will help manage the technology aspects of virtual Student Government. 

Even with tech support, Student Government Faculty Advisor Jeanne Barr believes that there’s a major obstacle to doing plenary virtually – quorum. “We need 2/3 of the Assembly present on a Zoom to have an official vote, and we didn’t come close to those numbers last spring,”  Barr said. 

Wagner hopes that there can be a new focus on Small Groups and committee meetings. “I think the pandemic is kind of giving the Student Government the opportunity to redirect a lot of attention out of plenary,” Wagner said. 

“I’m concerned that with students at home, they won’t have as many on-ramps for getting involved and exercising the muscles associated with community engagement and instead just sort of go along with how the adults are shaping things without them,” said Barr.

Cabinet has discussed how they can interact with and support @fwpananonymous, an Instagram account created to give students a platform to anonymously share incidents of racism in the community. The @fwpanonymous Instagram account has 177 posts, all illuminating “a culture of silence, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny within Parker’s walls” as described by the letter sent from the account owners to the administration. 

For a long time, Student Government has been a part of the toxic culture at Parker. I am determined to make Student Government a part of the solution.”

“For a long time, Student Government has been a part of the toxic culture at Parker,” Wagner said. “I am determined to make Student Government a part of the solution.”

Some people have proposed that the @fwpanonymous letter that detailed demands for the administration should be passed as a Student Government Proposal. While that idea is up in the air, Cabinet has expressed interest in hosting a town hall meeting with the administration or making internal changes so Student Government can be more equitable. “A quick, easy thing that I want to do is just move cabinet time from early Tuesday mornings to a time that is more convenient for people, especially people who live far away,” Wagner said.

In his platform, Wagner expressed interest in speeding up the proposal process. He wants to be very “deliberate and careful” when drafting each week’s agenda, as well as properly planning out proposals so they can be passed within two weeks of plenary, which he hopes will boost efficiency.

Barr is opposed to the plan. “Nothing bothers me more than the Cabinet rushing a vote when the assembly doesn’t get it,” she said.

In addition to making the proposal process more efficient, Wagner also would like to encourage more external proposals, which make changes outside of Student Government. Former President Matthew Turk agrees. “It would have been helpful, I think, in terms of just morale in Student Government to have more external proposals,” Turk said.

Several new proposals are already being worked on for next year. Wagner is working with the new Directors of Cross-Grade Communication (DOCCs) on a proposal unofficially named the Tampon Availability Proposal. 

Wagner also hopes to draft a new civic engagement curriculum. “The way I’m writing it currently is kind of similar to how Cookies is run by the Curriculum Committee. This will be civic engagement run by, say, the Social Justice Committee,” Wagner said. 

In Wagner’s presidential election platform, he outlined plans for several Cabinet reforms. He wanted the SGMM to create an engaging social media presence for Student Government, the Board and Education Council representatives to begin presenting on their progress at Plenary, and for 360 Review Council Head senior Bodie Florsheim to implement this new method of Cabinet oversight.

Due to last year’s remote learning period, rising freshmen are coming into Student Government with limited knowledge of how it works. Wagner is working with the DOCCs to carefully integrate freshmen into the assembly.

Wagner is inheriting a pending proposal that former Student Government President Matthew Turk ‘20 was interested in passing called the Senior Month Proposal. It does not have Wagner’s support. The proposal was discussed last year but never officially voted on.

“I thought that the administration’s involvement in Senior Month sort of lowered the student activity in implementing Senior Month,” Turk said. Last year Turk established the student-run Senior Month Task Force, which he hopes will bring the student body’s point of view back to the proposal.

“Now is not the time for Senior Month,” Wagner said. Wagner thinks that equity will be very hard to achieve when finding jobs for students, especially with the complications of the coronavirus.

When reflecting on Turk’s presidency, Wagner commended his predecessor’s leadership and behind the scenes work. Wagner wants to continue making the constitutional reforms that Turk and last year’s parliamentarian junior Eli Moog worked on.

“I think that Carter, in general, is a creative person that wants to get the job done, so I respected what he was trying to do with his campaign,” Turk said.

“He ran a great campaign to position himself as a seasoned hand with insider know-how,” said Barr, “while simultaneously tapping into traditionally unrepresented parts of the student body.”