How Student Forum Empowers Student Voices

Image+provided+by+Canva%2C+November+18%2C+2021.

Image provided by Canva, November 18, 2021.

Student Forum is a group of various students that provide student input for the school administration. They meet once or twice a month, often changing locations. The last time the group met was inside the small gym.

“We need to know from students what the school experience is like, and how we can do better,” says Ms. Nebo, who is in charge of organizing the Student Forum. The only way to join the Student Forum is to be nominated, with focus on nominating “key groups” on campus. 

Students can self-identify and choose what group they belong to, because there is just “so many different things one person could represent.” One’s group might be the club one is a part of, one’s grade level, or one’s racial background. One’s group might even be your gender or sexuality status. One’s group is something that is personally defined.

Both students and teachers can nominate others to join the Student Forum. Students are encouraged to find people they identify with, and nominate them. “We’re focused on making sure all groups are being represented and celebrated.” 

 

One of the main reasons Student Forum is nomination-only is because the Forum deals with many “sensitive topics” where permission from parents is needed for students to participate. A huge part of discussions this year is about mental health for students. Student Forum wants to normalize mental health among students and create a safe space by employing different strategies in the classroom. 

“Some of those strategies are breathing exercises and grounding activities*. We are creating a space in the classroom where if someone needs to take a time-out, they can.” 

Another reason that Student Forum is nomination-only is because students have to follow group rules, and keep the meetings private. Students sharing their personal experiences is an important part of Student Forum, and everything discussed must be confidential.

“We can get into really sensitive topics, where somebody has to take a big risk in sharing their experience with the group.” Experiences with sexual harassment, homophobia, racism, and other types of aggression have been shared in Student Forum. It is important that a safe space is created for students to express themselves.

 

“Student Forum has put together panel discussions in the past, where we have invited the superintendent and assistant superintendent. We’ve also had an audience with the vice mayor, where we talk about issues related to the community.” Student Forum is also working closely with the Wellness Center, which is about supporting mental health, and the Culture Keeper Program, where students of different cultures share their experiences on campus. 

Ultimately, the purpose of Student Forum is to empower students’ voices. People must share their own experiences to make a safe school environment for everyone.

 

*Grounding Activities are relaxing physical or mental activities that help calm your thoughts. One example would be taking a walk.