OPINION: Improving the Morris Hills SGA

Joseph Laux, Contributing Writer

The Morris Hills Student Government is the organizer is the beating heart of Morris Hill’s student activities, such as prom, Homecoming, and Battle of the Class. The organization, with its SGA advisor and SGA elected representatives, is crucial to the link between the student body and the Morris Hills School Administration. 

I am currently the President of the Class of 2023 here at Morris Hills. While there is no doubt that we have had relative success in running events, the SGA can definitely be improved. Taking in new ideas, such those listed below, can help it become more efficient and democratic.

Formalize + Expand the SGA 

Like our sister school Morris Knolls, Morris Hills should elect between 3 to 5 delegates from each class for representation on the school-wide level. Mrs. Foley, the Morris Knolls SGA Advisor, said that Knolls has 5 SGA officers, 4 Sets of 4 Class Officers, and elected delegates to the SGA from each class. While Knolls and Hills each equally have 16 class officers, Knolls has one more SGA officer and also elects delegates from each class for school-wide representation. Mrs. Foley explained that these elected delegates make sure that “each class is equally represented” at the meetings. At hills, while the four class officers usually show up to SGA meetings, they can be overshadowed by a number of additional people who attend the meetings. In addition, with more positions, Mrs. Foley further explained that the class officers rarely have to help run SGA events, and can therefore focus on running their respective classes instead. While the unelected members of the SGA at Hills sometimes volunteer for events, they are under no obligations. While for me the workload put on by the SGA is minimalt, I feel the current system discourages the SGA from running more events. An expansion of the SGA, combined with the already numerous number of people who attend our SGA meetings, could make the institution more productive and better the Morris Hills environment.

Institute Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a better process than the traditional first-past-the-post voting in which the person with most votes wins, even in plurality situations. RCV is a voting system in which the winner is decided by clear majority support 100% of the time. If you want to learn more about RCV, Ballotpedia has a great guide on the voting system. RCV is a more democratic way of voting, as it allows all voters to have a say in who the final two candidates are. A voting system change will also eliminate the ‘spoiler’ effect and encourage more students to run for positions. A ranked choice election would not be difficult to run either. Rankedvote.co has easily usable software to conduct a ranked choice election (it costs very little too).

Create a Town-Hall Like Debate

The ability to publicly speak is integral to becoming a leader. Now is the time for Morris Hills to establish separate debates which classmates can attend for grade level and SGA elections. Candidates vying for each position will have 15 minutes to debate each other on issues voted on by their classmates. The hour of class time needed to do this  would be worth it as it would let all students know that their elected leaders can speak effectively and have a coherent plan in place for the class. 

While in Office, Establishing Fundraising Targets

Fundraising standards should be placed upon class officers. When the officers sign their contract at the beginning of the year, there should be a fundraising minimum determined by their class adviser. This should be a binding agreement. If the class officers fail to meet their target by the election date, they should be barred from running the next year. Fundraising targets will keep these officers accountable, and make big ticket events like Prom less expensive.

Rising seniors going into officer positions their senior year should also be held accountable. Rather than having to meet a fundraising target by the start of election season, they should have to meet a fundraising target by the end of December. If they fail to meet this target, a snap election will occur in January to determine new officers for the senior class. 

It should be stated that those currently involved in SGA at Morris Hills are doing a fine job.  If these listed changes were to take effect, they could do even better which would benefit the entire student body.