A More Perfect (Student) Union

The time has come to establish a student union in the GUSD


Rafayel Hovhannisyan, Staff Writer

A union is defined as a club, society, or association formed by people with a common interest or purpose. They’re usually formed, not only to represent, but also to protect the group of people associated with it.

Unions have been a prominent part of any workspace since the Industrial Revolution. These groups are formed in order to protect the workers that identify with the unions. For example, in our District we have the Glendale Teachers Association, which makes sure that all GUSD teachers are fairly represented and protected from unfair treatment. However, while teachers, administrators and other school staff have union representation, students do not.

A student union would compromise a group of students, who don’t only represent the Advancement Placement (AP) and Honor Roll students, but also the students that are in regular classes. In fact, the main function of a student union should be to protect the students in these regular classes.

While this is not to say that students in higher-level classes won’t be getting an education, in our school system, they seem to get the most advantages and recognition. Due to the grit required for passing or even taking those classes, these students have more of a voice and more opportunities. In other words, while they should still be represented, they are not the group that the student unions should be formed to solely protect.

With this in mind, a student union will not have too many requirements that would make it impossible for students in regular classes to participate. It would be a collection of students that have an interest in student academics, discipline and student rights. There would be a vote among students for who would be the speaker at School Board meetings, and they would express their thoughts on how to implement programs into schools. Student union representatives should be included in the voting process, or at the very least, they should be allowed to argue for or against programs which they find unfit or fit.

As students, we only get very little decision-making space through our Class Councils. The Associated Student Body (ASB) does play an important part in students’ daily activities, whether they’re approving school spending, organizing school events or designing posters, but they still do not get to represent the student body in terms of academics. 

Every year, new programs are implemented to “help” students with activities. Most students are not even aware of the details of certain educational programs, like PBIS or CPM. They’re just supposed to accept that this is the only way that they can learn and go along with it. For this reason exactly, we need to establish a student union, a group of concerned young people who should be present when important decisions are made, regarding educational and disciplinary programs.

It makes sense to have students help decide how their education should be implemented. They should be educated in different methods of teachings and have the option to suggest educational and disciplinary programs that they think would be beneficial to the school. 

Not only would a student union impact the educational and disciplinary spheres, but it could also represent students who feel discriminated against for their gender, race, sexuality or religion. This is even more important given the recent resurgence of civil rights groups. There has been a push for more diverse literature to be taught in English and less historical whitewashing in Social Studies. These are agendas that students have been trying to push for a long time, with little or no success, due to their lack of representation in the decision making process.

As humble servants of the education industry, it is about time for students to have a voice on the School Board and be taken seriously by the adult members.

If the education industry truly cares about students and their opinions, they should allow the formation of student unions, in order to represent the student body better. After all, we are what keeps this industry running.