Editorial: ASB: Take steps toward inclusivity

Every March, student candidates hoping to become ASB Officers swarm the quad during brunch and lunch, hang pictures of their faces on classroom windows and promise to represent the student body by bringing change to Lynbrook. The election season brings hope, but this feeling quickly fizzles out when each newly-elected officer team fails to effectively address the same problem that arises every year: inclusivity. Instead of sticking to the same traditional approaches, elected ASB Officers should implement creative, new measures to change Lynbrook’s culture, specifically by redefining that being a Viking is more than just participating in Homecoming and dances.

Every year, potential ASB Officers tell the student body that they will increase opportunities for everyone to become involved. These basic ideas win votes but do not produce concrete change. While ASB has made some progress by adding recognition awards and talent shows to target a wider audience, the real problem is its continued focus on rallies and dances as central components of Lynbrook spirit.

“I do not enjoy or feel welcomed at these events designed for outgoing, extroverted people,” senior Angela Steinmetz said. “It is always the same people that go to each event and stand in the front of the crowd. ASB needs to provide opportunities where everyone feels comfortable joining in.” 

ASB has the right intentions in trying to support distinct students. ASB’s Recognition Commision focuses on reaching out to different individuals and groups on campus and finding unique ways to highlight who they are and their role in the community. Some projects include a bulletin board near the ASB classroom that highlight “Clubs of the Month” and “Student Spotlight” recipients. They also work to promote a positive and supportive atmosphere through events like Winter Wellness Week and Coffeehouse Talent Show, which brings students together. 

These events focus on students outside of the typical rally and dance audiences. Unlike traditional events, they cater toward students who may not love rallies as much and prefer to sing, play a musical instrument or watch their peers perform in a warm and calming atmosphere. Additionally, the Social Commission has started to incorporate different activities at their dances, such as movies and video games. Although small, they are not insignificant. Stations like these cater to students with different interests and ensure that they can enjoy a dance as well, something that our school needs even more of.

However, despite efforts from select commissions, ASB as a whole has not made sufficient progress toward addressing people’s concerns. One reason is because the additional awards and activities do not receive equal attention and support in comparison to large, social events such as rallies and dances. “Student Spotlight” winners don’t receive as much attention as Homecoming Choreographers; video game stations are spurned while the pit at a dance is loved.

To truly improve, ASB needs to make broader changes to existing events and commission responsibilities. ASB should allocate its attention and resources more evenly by making sure that all students feel that they are truly spirited members of the Lynbrook community — because they are. The diversity in our student body is valuable, and it should be reflected in our events. ASB, Associated Student Body, events should represent the entire student body, not merely students in the class or their friends who enjoy dancing and shouting at rallies. 

Unlike traditional class-versus-class setups, the Homecoming Rally this year used a new, refreshing format. Instead of forcing students to compete with one another, the student leaders encouraged classes to work together and “defeat the villain.” Some students dislike competition and would rather play friendly games. In this scenario, ASB did an exceptional job of focusing on a wider audiences and its needs. The response was positive. Students embraced the dynamic, despite the change in traditions. In the future, ASB officers need to propose and execute more ideas like this that make a real difference, even if they bring significant change to the current system.  

Ultimately, the student body must seek to redefine what spirit means at Lynbrook. When promoting school spirit, ASB should embrace activities beyond their own events like those of clubs and sports. The Public Relations Commission should not only advertise and make posters for ASB events but also broadcast other student activities such as sports games and club competitions and opportunities. If even half the number of students who showed up to rallies attended an athletic or club event, it would show a great amount of support to the students competing and representing their school. ASB should take initiatives like this to shed more light on deserving students.

Another solution to ASB’s inclusivity issue is to become more welcoming to all students by increasing transparency and making all students comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions. ASB students all want to better other students’ experiences, not to seem intimidating. However, from a distance, this may not be clear to some students. 

“Since ASB is their own class, there is not much communication between people in ASB and people not in ASB,” senior McKenna Shieh said. “When I was an underclassman, I was afraid to speak to anyone in ASB because it always seemed like they had more ‘authoritative power’ than the rest of the school.”

For many students like Shieh, ASB can seem intimidating, distant and unresponsive. Additionally, after an election, the vacuum of communication can make students question what is happening. 

When officers get in the system and realize how many people are involved in making the decisions, their views shift,” Assistant Principal Brooke Chan said. “People come in with their own position and agenda but then realize the different parameters and what goes into finalizing decisions. Figuring out how to really enact change in spite of that is the hardest thing for many students.” 

Currently, students outside of ASB do not get to see this process. A typical proposal for a new idea starts with a discussion in the leadership classroom. A commissioner or officer proposes an idea, and the class assesses it. They ask questions, debate the viability of the plan and make suggestions to strengthen it. Then, Leadership Adviser Jason Lee looks it over. If there are any issues, the officers may meet to discuss them with the administration. Often, if ideas require a large budget or are not practical, they must be approved by the district. 

This whole process is long, so ASB needs to inform and guide the student body with every step of the way. For example, if anything comes up that hinders the execution of a campaign promise, students should have up-to-date knowledge. To promote absolute transparency, ASB should dedicate a section of their website to update students on their pending events, successful events and especially failures, as well as the processes that come with them. They could also make a video about the internal mechanisms of their class or the steps they take to get their projects approved. Often, students are disappointed when candidates do not follow through with their campaign promises. However, if students knew the reasoning, they would know about how and to what extent ASB is taking steps to address the student body’s concerns. When students feel informed by their leadership, especially when decisions are being made, they will naturally feel included in ASB.

Through their current actions, ASB Officers have proven themselves to have the right intentions; however, there is a long road ahead. If the newly elected ASB Officers work hard, take risks to redefine spirit and keep their students informed, it is possible for them to succeed.