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Student Government Through

Constitutional Reform

-- Number Two

In the previous number, the necessity of a solution to the problem of Student Government was proposed more vociferously than had formerly been done, and the path to such proof was similarly outlined, so that the time has come to discuss in detail the dangers of the class system.

The informed pedant could not but note that any argument regarding this topic must be based upon a solid and uncontested definition of the system so maligned. The class system is but the outdated form of an organization which once stood upon a pedestal. Its purpose, which can be reliably traced to the writings of Horace Mann at the dawn of mandatory education, is only the separation of students in such a way that they might not suffer interference from the actions of those at higher levels of academic progress. In a school of one classroom, the separation of students into age groups was not to be avoided: should the students be grouped together in a single group rather than into such separate classes, the pedagogue might suffer from an inability to create an objective system for grading exams or other types of work. But, in the school today, or in any larger school, scientific separation of students into groups, not according to their time spent studying, but according to the status and extent of their various pursuits, makes far more sense. To judge students by the number of years studied, without regard to the quality of that study, serves no purpose but to attempt the representation of a series of similar persons, those sharing similar levels of physical development. Such a step seems as little sensible as the thought that a well-endowed vocalist, having studied for five years, might have similar capacity in musical terms to the singer who was hardly given any skill in that arena. Moreover, the class system is one whereby students are separated into such groups -- those made up of students of concurrent age but incongruent in mental ability and in interest in academic pursuits; it is the system which places value on these groupings, and it is the system by which most student governments, and most student competitions, are controlled.

The classes, separated in that manner, bring into before the considerate thinker several hateful dangers, with which I shall deal in turn, to the satisfaction of even the most disbelieving intellect. These dangers include, in the forefront,-- the likelihood that hatred might arise between the members of these classes; the tendency that persons of differing interests within each class might find themselves summarily dissociated from the common government of that organization; and finally, the necessity that competitions between these classes shall remain hypocritical and unnecessary in nature.

And so I shall first deal with that initial point, the possibility that hatred between classes might arise, in such a way as to prove disabling to either one's advancement, and so that such friendships as might have grown between the members of these classes could be terminated due to these insane clashes. Examples of such conflict abound, for in some sense the classes may be equated with nations -- each nation being a separate conglomerate, each having been founded on the basis of some passing and indefinite characteristic, in the former, age, and in the latter, geographical position. The Greeks fought the Trojans, though both shared a common system of morality, so that friendships were skewed and destroyed in the process; the Trojans were destroyed, the Greeks arrested into a dark age; this hatred between the two distinct nations caused both to suffer to no end. The Romans fought the Carthaginians, and though eventually the Romans came to dominate the Mediterranean, the intervening period suffered similar punishment. And, since the classes in the sense of our discussion could never destroy each other, that stage of final domination as arrived in both examples could never occur; as a direct consequence, the injury to all sides would not cease. The class system causes all to suffer; even the American Civil War might serve as a valid example of what such an arbitrary system would produce.

It might be put forward by those less far-seeing that such strong and inevitable conflict could never occur in the current incarnation of the system. In any method thus based upon age, there is a danger of such conflict; in any system where contests are continually staged between the various groups, the danger multiplies; and so the dangers brought on in these unending stages would eventually grow to an uncompromisingly heavy weight, and break forth in open strife. Were one class made to contest with another for Monetary or other such compensation, the classes would naturally suffer from rivalry among them; this rivalry is both unnecessary and inhumane. If one class wishes to win a contest of donation, similar to the canned food drive of the week just past, then it is only natural human avarice that might propel one class to steal the cans of another or "mistakenly" miscount the numbers or weight of the food; it is such horrible crime that the class system spawns.

And also the class system itself would be undermined, pushed toward the ignominy of Anarchy, by the fact that classes in any school of this one's size or greater are mixed in the process of academic study; incoming freshmen share neither the same teachers nor the same prior experience, and so they do not share the same academic studies -- by the very nature of the school itself, conflict might be spawned by efforts to enhance the state of the classes.

Publius II


This page created for The Subterranean Crusader by John W. Earl. Last modified January 28, 1996.