Democracy in action

Editor’s note: The Buncombe County Early College recently asked students to write an essay on how democracy affects them as individuals and how it should be reflected in the school’s constitution, which students are helping create. Xpress has already published Ariel Betancourt’s essay in its entirety (“Education and Democracy,” Jan. 31); here are excerpts from four other students’ work.

David Zabriskie

Democracy is front and center in all of our lives. We count on it to guarantee us our rights, like freedom of speech or the freedom to worship what we believe in. We take for granted the right to complain about the makeup of our government, whether … Democratic or Republican … or even if we think the whole system is next to worthless. But the truth is, we usually don’t think about what gives us these rights. The system may have some serious flaws, but we need to remember that this system, which we constantly berate, is the same one that gives us the right to berate it. …

While we must obviously adhere to the democratic standards set in place by our society, we should never accept those standards as our personal ideals just because they are the standards, and we should never try to force society’s standards or our own ideals onto another.

Jordan Miller

Democracy. In the modern world, this word carries a lot of weight. It is also as varied in meaning as in practice. While democracy may mean freedom and liberty to some, to others it is just an expansion of a dictatorship and grants no new liberties or rights. …

Although our system is flawed and in many ways broken, it is possible to change the system. This kind of upheaval would take an overwhelming support of the people, but it can be done, and something to this effect was seen in the recent congressional elections. …

This brings me to the most important and encompassing occupation of government: adaptation, the ability to adapt and serve the needs and the will of the public. In this way, if the system fails then that is partially our responsibility. …

In order for a government to be successful, its constituents must understand not only how it works but their role in it. The purpose of education is to prepare young people for the world, but in the words of Buckminster Fuller, “What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature, they have lost their innate capabilities.”

Lauren Bonura

We are very privileged to have a democracy here in America, and I am delighted that the student body of my school has been given the opportunity to have our voices heard as we construct our constitution. …

Students deserve the right to be heard. This does not only mean the freedom to say the things that we are thinking, but that we should be listened to and have our comments/opinions respected. … If we have our own thoughts on something, we should have the right to express what we are feeling and thinking and know that … our thoughts are being taken into consideration.

Patrick Duffy

Many times in our world today schools are portrayed as prisons, whether in movies (where students are shown in the tight confines of a bleak, archaic hellhole), in the media (where they are shown as [hotbeds of] violence and drugs), or by students who complain about too much homework and not enough freedom. Schools are always shown as places where nobody wants to be.

At select schools throughout the United States however, they are trying to dissociate themselves from all those negative connotations. … One such school is Buncombe County Early College, [where] students and teachers alike work to create a learning environment that will be enjoyable and beneficial for everyone involved. BCEC is committed to having a school where students can set their own rules and create a solid foundation for students to come. We decided that it would be in the school’s best interest if we crafted an amendable school constitution that would state how things should be run in the present and in the future. …

A direct democracy, though more difficult to run, would assist in ensuring that all students were happy with what was happening. Having a representative democracy would be much easier to run and would help to minimize extremely irrational ideas by condensing what multiple students thought and wanted to happen. …

I think the student court is a phenomenal idea that could provide a fair way to hear why a student did something, what their thinking was, and if they had a particular, logical motive.

As for term limits, I think that if someone is doing a good job, they should be in office until the student body votes them out. Most students think that it would be a great idea to have term limits so no one person would hold power too long, but if they are doing well, then why not?

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