Forum Council 2013-14


CHS art teacher Steve Coron asks Forum Council representatives, during their first meeting, how they want this years meetings and presidential elections to be conducted.

Natalie Potter and Allegra Corwin-Renner

As students opened their lunches and settled into their seats, new and old faces crossed the threshold into a world unknown to the rest, student politics. On Sept. 12, the Forum Council held their first meeting of the year in art teacher Steve Coron’s room. As a new year starts, several new ideas and questions are brought the forum council, as well as several old ones. There is one question that is addressed every year: who will be forum council president?

With that on the table, questions were flowing in. “What positions do we want to have?” After several ideas were suggested and shot around, the forum council came to one decision that would affect the rest of the year, a presidential “race” would be held. After that, the suggestions of a vice president, secretary, or treasurer were left up in the air for further discussion after the “race”.Now the hard part, who wants to be forum council president? But before that Coron reminded the forum council reps that if they run for presidency they are choosing to give up a vote. With this in mind Hannah Shevrin, Graehm Fazio, and Allegra Corwin-Renner, all CHS seniors, were all excited to run for the presidential position. The only pair running for co-presidency were CHS junior, Jeff Ohl, as well as CHS senior Cassidy Durkee, who previously was the forum council secretary.

Next was the question of how will they be elected. Suggestions that were thrown out were: trying to include the whole student body, possible campaign, and a suggestion just the representatives vote. With time at their heels the idea of having a long presidential race was easily shot down. However having just the representatives vote was unanimous, but to involve the student body, each of the reps would go to their forums and announce the Forum Council presidential “race”. Then the forum would vote and the next time Forum Council meets will decide the Forum Council president(s).

As candidates running for a presidential position, a platform speech was encouraged. Each candidate got up to the front of the room and presented their goals if they were elected Forum council president. Fazio said that he’d like to initiate a buddy program, “I would really like to involve the freshman into being more included in the school environment. I thought of this platform that’s related to what we had at Greenhills…I’d like to do something similar to that [Greenhills buddy program] with the freshman, showing them around, like where we’d eat, clubs you could get involved in, forums you’d like to switch into if you don’t like your forum etc.”

Fazio talked about getting the school to come together more, Shevrin took the more political side of things. “ I know how to facilitate the conversation and I know what it is being productive and constructive and I am really interested in having the student body more connected to the administrative hierarchy in this school,” said Shevrin. Much like the other candidates, both Durkee and Ohl are interested involving the student body in school event run by the forum council. Unlike the other candidates, Durkee and Ohl believe that because they are a junior and senior pair, it would be easier for ideas and discussions to transition over to next year.“ the past it has been hard to have a consistent leader every year. It would be really cool to have a more solid base to go to year after year and then maybe we could have more volunteering projects that could continue over the summer,” said Durkee, “Also all the other people are seniors so just to have a younger person that has been an underclassman more recently,” added Ohl.

One week later on Sept. 19, the forum council met again to decide the president for this year. As forum council reps discussed with the other reps, from the same forum, and as each of the candidates said a few last minute words, the votes were cast. With a 6-5-4 outcome, Shevrin became the forum council president for year 2013-2014 with Ohl and Durkee as co-vice presidents.

Listen to Sevrin’s presidential speech Hannah Shevrin

Forum Council Past and Present

While serving as Forum Council Staff Advisor for the past three years, Steve Coron has seen big changes in what Forum Council does and how it operates. As staff advisor, Coron lets the students run the meetings as much as possible. He is there to answer questions about what forum council is allowed to do and how they can do it. “I’m also trying to establish a way to hold meetings that are effective and efficient and open and respectful for everyone,” Coron said, “As the advisor I want students to feel like they have a voice and find appropriate ways to speak about their school and what happens at their school. It may not be huge, but there are things that [students] can effect.”

One of the bigger responsibilities that forum council has taken on in past years has been organizing and regulating Multi Culti. “This was a big one that Forum Council took on last year and the year before about how much material we are wasting,” Coron said. But  last year’s forum representatives were not only concerned about the environment. Coron added, “The students have really taken leadership in that in guiding forums through their decisions on what is a culture, and what should it be.”

Part of last year’s process of revising Multi Culti was to research how Multi Culti at Community has changed over time. Forum Council found that in past years there had been no decorations and that tables of food had been set out in the hallways, not the classrooms. Although students had no intentions to copy what Multi Culti has been in the past, seeing how it had changed changed their own mindsets about what Multi Culti could be.

After much discussion, council representatives voted to encourage forums to use fewer decorations and that no decorations would be made from the large sheets of paper that in past years had been many Forums’ main source of decoration. By limiting decorations the council intended to reduce the amount of waste that the feast produced and also have forums focus more on learning about the culture they were representing. For the past few years Coron has been taking pictures of the dumpsters after Multi Culti and because of decisions like this one, Coron has seen the amount of waste drop dramatically. “I feel really good about that not because it was my idea but because they really took hold of that on their own,”Coron said.

How Forum Council operates this year will be based on how this year’s student representatives choose to run it, but Coron hopes that this year more representatives will feel able to freely express their own opinions and those of their forums. “I hope we can say at the end of the year that we learned a few more things at meetings about how to be more inclusive,” he said. “In the past people have been shouted down and felt like they couldn’t speak their minds… I think we’ve changed that culture.”