Public Opinion On The “Student Life Agreement”

On Thursday, September 26, 2019 a High School-wide community meeting was held in concern to the newly created “Student Life Agreement.” At the time of the assembly, many students were unfamiliar with the background of the “Student Life Agreement,” a document based on students’ concerns on claims of racism and peer disrespect in Grace. The “Student Life Agreement” states that all students must act respectfully to one another and take part in no action that could, in any way, be considered “hate speech.” 

Over the course of the past few weeks, students have been developing their own thoughts regarding the value and overall practicality of the “Student Life Agreement.” The following is just a small sample of what the community is thinking.

Jasper Yang ‘20 — “I think it’s too early to tell what the impact of it is, I mean it’s started a lot of conversations, but we still have to see how the school board and student disciplinary committee will handle violations of the agreement.”

Zach Bernstein ‘21 — “It’s going to have a direct impact on the consequences of racism and how people will act.”

Luke Roshkow ‘21 — “I think it will have absolutely no impact on anything in the school. I hope it does, but to be honest, it probably won’t.”

Kumare Vulcain-Sowkey ‘21 — “I think it’s important that the school has this document.”

Henry Pallesen ‘21 — “It’s definitely a good start. I wish that it was a little more concrete. I’m glad that we all signed it though.”

Bella Johnson ‘22 — “The document is a good way to keep the community on the same page and to make sure [the school] is a place to feel safe and welcomed.”

Ava Andrews ‘22 — “I think it’s important that the school is taking steps, whether that be small steps in this case or large steps, and recognizing the feedback students are giving the administration.” 

Willa Bradshaw ‘23 — I think it’s very fair. I think it’s good that they [Grace] made people sign it very fast.” 

Naaz Valvani ‘22 — “I think Grace is already doing a good job about confronting the issue up front with the students and faculty. I think the Student Life Agreement is necessary for all Grace students and faculty to follow.” 

Dr. Schmidt — “I’m really grateful that this form was created by the students and not the faculty because kids are already used to adults telling them what they should do and hopefully that’s not the case with this.” 

Ms. Carpenter, Dean of the Class of ‘20 — “When I saw a draft of it, which was at the end of last year, it made a lot of sense and was student-led as an initiative. It’s already had an effect on the school as a result of kids violating the agreement. The feedback I received from the first proceeding was that everything was front and center, that the issue was about penalization and hard consequences, and sometimes the issue is about teaching and learning and understanding. I’m super glad that the students were mindful and thoughtful about the events that occurred. I think that the students who violated the agreement faced the proper consequences. I think the Student Life Agreement was instrumental in making the decision of how to punish children acting in violation of what it stands for.” 

The majority of opinions from Grace students tell a scattered narrative. Some agree with the enforcement of the “Student Life Agreement” as a means to hopefully make Grace a more racially conscious environment. Although students feel that the agreement will inspire an important conversation about racism within our community, there are still those who believe that the document won’t have much impact on the school, since the consequences of its violation are vague and inexplicit. Hopefully, the “Student Life Agreement” will be able to benefit Grace, though only time will tell if the agreement can change a narrative of racial bias, whether implicit or explicit, within our community.

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