South Senate passes new legislation

by Aidan Lieberman, Freelance Editor
graphic by Amanda Fu

Earlier this school year, South Senate passed three bills and two resolutions in an effort to improve student wellbeing. The three bills were signed into effect by Interim Principal Mark Aronson on Feb. 26. A fourth bill was recently passed by the Senate and signed by Aronson on April 6.

Bills, which become acts once they are completed, require approval from the principal because they change the current school rules. Resolutions are an expression of the Senate’s opinion and do not need approval; however, the principal can choose to sign resolutions to show support. 

One of the bills passed, the Break Regulation Act, states that teachers must give students a minimum break of five minutes in each class. The Senate felt that short breaks can help increase productivity. Breaks give remote students the ability to spend time away from their computers and they allow in-person students to socialize with their classmates. 

The Guidance Counselor Spreadsheet Bill requires guidance counselors to post their availability on a master spreadsheet, which will be updated at the beginning of every school year. Most guidance counselors chose to link their “” page, a website to schedule appointments.

The Student Feedback Act strongly encourages teachers to create a suggestion box for students to leave anonymous or semi-anonymous feedback for their teacher.

Sophomore senator Zachary LeBlanc said that the Feedback Act is currently not being used to its fullest potential.

“If it was utilized correctly, which I have not seen a lot of, the Feedback Act could really help improve individual classes and the school as a whole,” he said.

The fourth and newest bill, the Asynchronous Work Posting Act, expects teachers to post Wednesday’s asynchronous work by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday. 

Senate President junior Brendan Weissel said that due to the recent increase in affinity group presentations on Wednesdays and because teachers have been giving out more work, this act gives students the ability to manage their time more effectively.

 “The whole point of asynchronous days is to give students some free time and time to get their eyes away from the screen,” he said. “This is another way to help students plan their day, maybe do a fun activity. For example, tomorrow I’m actually going golfing, and I’m going to do my asynchronous work tonight.”

The Distance-Learning Camera Policy Resolution affirms that students cannot be penalized for keeping their cameras off in breakout rooms. 

Sophomore senator Wasan Rafat said that the policy could help students feel more at ease during classes. 

“When you’re in a breakout room and you’re just talking or doing work together, [having cameras on] can make students feel uncomfortable,” she said. 

The Assisting in Grading Policy Resolution requests that the Senate be given a voice in any future grading policy changes that may occur. The administration is not obligated to consult the Senate before changing the grading policy, but the Senate expressed their desires to be included in the conversation nonetheless. 

LeBlanc said that although the resolution itself does not hold much power, it could be helpful in the long run as it provides a student perspective. 

“A lot of the way that school is built is based on teacher view and administration view,” he said. “It’s important that students have a voice.” 

This resolution did not receive Aronson’s signature. 

“I did not sign this resolution because it is not my place to speak for the district in these matters,” Aronson wrote in his email to students on Feb. 26.

Weissel said that the Guidance Counselor Spreadsheet Bill was the most imperative. 

“Trying to find the guidance counselor information was difficult, and if you need to meet with your guidance counselor in a timely manner, it’s rather important,” he said.

Rafat, LeBlanc and sophomore senator Lily Paltrowitz all said that the Camera Policy Resolution was the most important, as many students had concerns regarding having their cameras on in class. 

“It’s a relief for a lot of students who were nervous about that before,” Paltrowitz said.

Freshman senator Taban Malihi said that there is no single best piece of legislation.

“They’re all equally important. It depends how they are each implemented,” she said. 

Sophomore Jason Wong said that he particularly liked the camera policy. 

“I like the fact that they made a rule that you don’t have to keep your camera on for credit,” he said. “It’s pretty nice that you can keep your privacy.”

The Senate has had a productive year; they passed more legislation than in years past. Not every proposed bill was signed. One bill, the Social Spaces for Hyflex Students bill, was rejected. 

If passed, it would have created designated areas on school grounds for students to talk to each other without disrupting students participating in online classes from school.

“Even if we can do this, students will still need to be supervised, masked and seated six feet apart, somewhat limiting what social gains might occur for students,” Aronson wrote. 

Weissel said he understands why the bill was rejected, given the current safety protocols implemented at South. 

“I understand that it’s more of a city health thing,” he said. “We’re going to talk about it again when the weather gets nicer.”

Although the Senate was not formally granted a voice in future grading policy changes, senators will continue advocating for a uniform grading policy at South as they believe it to be the most equitable solution to current grading policy concerns, Paltrowitz said.

“We thought that it would be more equitable for departments to have a uniform grading system so that all students can have an equal chance in classes,” she said.

Rafat said that these bills and resolutions reflect the Senate’s commitment to serving the student body. 

“We’re always trying to do whatever we can to help them,” she said. “Any feedback they have is so appreciated.”