Student Council Members Are People Too

By: Elka Wiesenberg  |  September 26, 2019

By Elka Wiesenberg, SCWSC Vice President 

Student council members are people too. Sometimes it feels like people have forgotten this fact. Yes, I am in a position of power, and yes, I represent more than myself, but at the end of the day, I am a human being with very real feelings.

After joining SCWSC, my world came crumbling down. Not because of the actual position’s responsibilities or working with the school, but because of the student body I had committed to spending more hours of my life on than myself — the student body I stepped up to represent.

Since being elected, my name has been mentioned in many articles, whether good, bad, or neutral. I have had countless conversations, deliberations, and questions about how to handle issues that arise in my position. Not a single decision was made lightly and without serious consultation of other knowledgeable people, whether colleagues or mentors. 

SCWSC was brought to student court for not renewing or giving club status to three clubs that did not apply on time — a pertinent qualification of becoming a club. The decision to not extend deadlines was not an easy one, but it was made with care, despite the difficulties and my personal desires to help foster these environments. This was not a decision made because I do not strongly believe in the clubs and their missions, but a decision made because of the necessity to set a precedent of deadlines and rule-following. Alternative ways to achieve many goals set forth by would-be club presidents were offered, and it was difficult and demoralizing to have to go to court against the very people we set to represent, just to defend ourselves.

Then the article about the College Democrats came out. This involved even more discussions and hard decisions, and SCWSC’s name was brought into it without a statement or affirmation that these were, indeed, the facts. I personally had always felt there should be a Democrats club and fought for it, and no one on SCWSC ever wanted otherwise. If The Commentator had asked SCWSC, there would have been a very different article.

Tonight, for the first time since middle school, I felt small. I felt defenseless. I was a victim.

At a club event, which I attended as a student, to support my friend’s club, I was bullied.

When I first came in, I was talking to a friend about SCWSC winning the trial against the three clubs that had brought us to court that morning.

“Is it really a win though,” a woman sneered from across the room, “if you’re really just preventing an important club from being on campus?”

“We obviously had our reasons,” I tried to politely explain, but she wasn’t listening.

I’d like to stress again, it wasn’t about my personal beliefs. This was about upholding the rules, and the students who served on the court agreed with this. I was solely being blamed for a decision that was made democratically and according to the student constitution.

The club heads of the event I was attending made mention of partisan issues and referenced the Republicans and Democrats clubs.

“What Democrats Club?” a woman jeered, looking pointedly at me. All eyes on the room fell on me, and I uncomfortably hid my face. 

“Love you, Elka,” a woman laughed. 

“We all love Elka,” a friend of mine inserted, trying to diffuse the tension. He looked at me sympathetically.

“Not today,” the woman who made the original Democrats club comment said. “We love Elka, but not today.”

“The Hate on Elka club,” another woman joked.

It wasn’t funny. My face was flushed, and warm tears built up in my eyes.

Don’t you dare cry, I instructed myself.

“Feminist,” the first woman taunted, putting air quotes up to imply my lack of respect for my own gender.

The tears spilled, and I turned my face away. 

“That’s enough,” my friend defended me. But the damage was done.

I was humiliated. Worse than that, I was shamed in a public setting. Was I a bad person for trying my best in these impossible situations? For trying to balance my morals and my responsibilities?

No, I wasn’t. I am not a bad person, and I do not deserve to be treated like one. Neither does any other member of SCWSC, nor any student council member, nor any human being. Because that’s what we are: human beings. So think about that, the next time you approach one of us to ask for details about student trials and scandals we’re tired of being harassed about. Think about that, the next time you want to criticize our actions. Think about that, before stomping all over me and making me feel small. Just think. Maybe you’ll think again.

Photo: SCWSC Logo