Task Forces at Work

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Isabel Lewis ’21

What are you going to do about it?

This interesting question has weighed on the minds of students and faculty alike since it was posed by Head of School Katie Titus during her opening speech of the spring term. However, for the most part, the Mercersburg community remained unaffected throughout the school year, and no change was visible to the average student. This changed, however, on Wednesday, April 10, when Ms. Titus addressed the student body and presented the formation of new task forces that are currently active this spring. The six different committees–Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Time; Irving-Marshall Week; Substance Use Policies; Technology Policies; and Minor Infraction Policies–will discuss the issues faculty and students are having with these matters and aim to improve their area of focus.

These task forces are part of the strategic design process in an effort to better incorporate faculty and student opinions into the future of the school. When Ms. Titus introduced these task forces to students, she said, “I know students want to have their voices heard, but maybe we didn’t do a good enough job of presenting and creating mechanisms through which students feel like they could participate.” She mentions that this is only the start of receiving direct student input, calling this the “pilot program.”

According to Ms. Titus, the task forces meet once a week during assigned lunchtime meetings. The task force members will discuss their charge and come up with suggestions to give to the governing body overseeing each area. For instance, the Student Life Office is one of the governing bodies, overseeing the three policy groups.

Many students across campus are getting involved in the task forces. Jack Kothari ’20, who is in the “time” task force, felt it was his responsibility as a student to take part in making these changes in the school. He says, “The administration is giving the students the opportunity to ‘do something about it,’ and it is our duty to take this opportunity and run with it.”

Ryan Bland ’21, who joined the “Irving-Marshall Week” task force, chose to participate because, as a Marshall officer, he felt the most recent week of competition between the literary societies was lacking in the spirit that it had in past years. Bland says, “Because of my close connection to the week, I have lots of opinions on how it can function in a better way for our community.”

The Mercersburg community is fairly optimistic about the success of the task forces. Director of Student Activities Trini Hoffman says, “I do think having the task forces will help to implement new ideas and ways of thinking about what we do here.”

Similarly, Kothari adds, “If students get involved, I am confident that progress can be made and the whole community will be better for it.”

The task forces are a step in the right direction for the community. As long as students are aspirational and faculty are understanding, the changes the community wants to see are just over the horizon.

Isabel Lewis ’21 is from Greencastle, PA. Her sister, Grace ’20, is also a Mercersburg student. A version of Isabel’s article first appeared in the Mercersburg News in early May 2019.