Opinion: CESJDS needs a student member of the board


Cartoon by Nathan Szubin

A student board member is necessary in order to be a representative for the voice of the student body.

Simon Albert, Reporter

The valuable and unfiltered perspectives of students are a crucial part of our CESJDS community and deserve a place in more productive conversations, where we have the ability to influence larger change. Therefore, we need to add a student member to the board of directors who will encourage a more open environment for difficult discussions and will help to cater to students’ needs. 

The board of directors constructs the strategic vision for our school, specifically in relation to budgeting, the quality of academia and broadening relationships with the Jewish community. The board has a diverse assortment of specialists and members of the community, which allows the body to clearly set the vision of our school while taking multiple perspectives into consideration. 

However, one of the board’s blind spots is the student body’s perspective. Although the board of directors frequently surveys the community, the students’ viewpoint can often get lost in the noise. The board ensures that they send pulse surveys often, but from a student’s perspective, little change is happening. A survey can only get you as far as a computer screen, whereas the power of a conversation can entirely change someone’s perspective. 

Students are not specialists like other members of the board, yet they have ideas and insight as to how to better our school from an on the ground viewpoint. From a student perspective, the school does not properly address some issues such as course selections or the current COVID-19 pandemic. Oftentimes, students need a more distinct avenue to share their perspectives with the individuals who can actually make a change in our community. 

JDS has a student council which works meticulously to solve problems at our school, containing members from each grade. However, every change that the student council pushes for has to be filtered through the Dean of Students, Roz Landy, who addresses it with other members of administration. While the administration carries out projects in the moment, it is the board who creates JDS’s vision and policies at a larger scale.  

Adding a student member on the board comes with specific challenges that could discourage them from applying such as accepting the responsibilities of a fiduciary.  “A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of another person or an institution, putting the interests of that person or institution ahead of their own… being a fiduciary thus requires being bound both legally and ethically to act in the other’s best interests,” Board Chair Ayala Nuriely Kimel said. 

One suggestion is for the student member to accept a partial responsibility on the board which would alleviate the pressure of legal duties. For example, a student member may not get a vote on the annual budget, however, on other topics such as special programming or the course offerings, a student would get a vote. While the ethical obligations are still in place, it reduces the pressure of legal decisions. 

There are still many unanswered questions around the possible addition of a student member on the board, such as what grade the student would be from. Seniors leave school at the end of the first semester, so would they still be eligible candidates for the board position? What would a typical term look like for a student member? Despite these lingering questions, what is certain is that JDS needs a student member on the board.

More surveys will not change the fact that students do not feel like they are being heard. JDS needs to take action to prove how much they value students’ voices by instituting a student member on the board.