ASB is in the process of reforming congressional meetings with the intention of promoting collaborative discussion, according to ASB member Charlie Eggleton.
From now on, all congressional meeting attendees will sit together in the middle section of the theater, and a forum will begin after initial ASB reports.
“The changes in the seating are being made to promote inclusivity at the congressional meetings,” Eggleton said. “Previously, we had ASB sitting separately from the club presidents and class representatives, and it gave the congressional meetings a segregated atmosphere, so we decided to change the seating to have everyone mixed together in the center section.”
According to ASB adviser Carson Rietveld, ASB intends for congressional meetings to be a place of discussion between ASB, administration, and the student body. Rietveld said that ASB will strive to focus on receiving feedback on topics significant to the student body rather than simply making announcements.
“For whatever reason, the congressional meetings turned into a space where ASB gives announcements and everyone collectively approves clubs,” Rietveld said. “We have so many ways to share announcements these days, from social media to broadcasting, and ASB students were wondering what they could do to make the meetings feel more worthwhile.”
In order to foster a more collaborative environment, the ASB executive committee plans to prompt specific questions at each meeting and invite students to share their opinions. According to Eggleton, ASB will ask second period teachers to hold brief class discussions to brainstorm feedback for ASB, which class representatives will then share at congressional meetings.
“The goals of these changes are to increase student voice, participation, and promote inclusivity during these meetings,” Eggleton said.“The meetings have pretty low attendance traditionally, and they haven’t really been serving their purpose, which was supposed to be facilitation of communication.”
However, Eggleton and Rietveld said that congressional meetings had fulfilled their intended purpose in certain instances when students took advantage of the meetings to voice their concerns to administration.
“ASB was thinking about direct strategies they could use to bring that level of weight to each congressional meeting,” Rietveld said. “We want each congressional meeting to be a space where we get student feedback, and we can do this by having a specific purpose for each meeting.”
According to Rietveld, the new congressional meeting format has already exhibited signs of success this year.
“After our first congressional meeting, it did seem like a fair number of people did talk to their second period class, and we got some really useful feedback,” Rietveld said. “We will be using the next congressional meeting to discuss what we heard from the community and what we will be acting on.”
ASB solicited feedback on dances during the September congressional meeting, the first of this school year. The next meeting in October is planned to include discussion on homecoming and the homecoming court.