Candidate Statement: Mazelle Etessami '14

1. For what position are you running?

I am running for the position of Junior Prefect.

2. What makes you feel that you are qualified for the position? Please describe any leadership experiences you’ve had, if applicable.

This past year I have been fortunate enough to serve as the representative for our grade on Prefect Council. Given the fact that I am now accustomed to both the expectations and consequent responsibilities that being a Prefect entails, I think that I am adequately qualified for the position. I also feel that I have a very approachable personality; which, seeing as a Prefect’s duty is to be a voice for their peers, is necessary in order for all ideas to be heard and considered. I have also led our community in an attempt to be more aware of the many forms of diversity by pioneering the way for student attendance at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference. This has also led me to be a Co-founder/President of a club increasing awareness and appreciation of everyone’s differences (YOLO). I feel that this has allowed me to be more in tune with the diverse array of desires, opinions of our class. Lastly, I am someone who has, and will continue to work tirelessly to balance all the desires of my classmates, as well as those of the faculty and administration. As a responsible student and caring peer who has close relationships with many teachers, and administrators, I feel that I would be able to uniquely impact our community and represent our class well.

3. How do you feel about the Honor Board and what has led you to feel this way?

I feel that some of the most important aspects of the Honor Board are things that are often overlooked: it’s a balanced group of people and a truly helpful, corrective body. Yes, when one speaks about the Honor Board they often emphasize the fact that it has student representatives, as they should. However, through my experience with the Honor Board this year I have come to appreciate how cohesive it really is. While students make up the majority of the board, in order for the board to adequately mirror the ratio of students to adults at school and to also to give students a voice (seeing as they know of the constant stress and problems of going here,) two teachers, two deans and Father Young also sit on cases to ensure expert opinion is also taken into consideration. I feel that it provides the student that comes before the Board the most cohesive group of people making the decision about their future. Furthermore, it must be stressed that the Honor Board is a corrective and not a punitive body. Both the students and adults that sit on cases want the student to finish the process better than they started off, and I feel that the Board’s recommendations reflect that. However, I think that there is an obvious disconnection between the Board and the student body, and that something needs to be done about this. The Honor Board is fantastic and necessary for our school; yet, in order for there to be a more general consensus its positive aspects, I believe there needs to be more transparency. Whether there needs to be a form of media to educate and emphasize the details and importance of the Board, or simply to have open forum meetings discussing the outcome and how it can be prevented in the future, open and constructive conversations, rather than mindless gossip, are bound to improve the system.

4. Please describe one thing in Harvard-Westlake’s community you would change. Also, how would you use the influence of the position of Junior/Senior Prefect to change our community?

Given the fast paced nature of our school it is often difficult to adequately convey one’s wants to a Prefect, and more importantly to get feedback on their progress. As a Prefect my job is to represent our class, as an equal. The student body has many incredible ideas, most of which are not properly heard and addressed. The solution I propose for this is to have open forum meetings. If once a month Prefect Council was open to the student body so that voices could be heard, and to provide both parties to ask questions and get answers, many things could change. Rather than having an ideas box, an open forum would allow for a two-way interaction fostering important conversations between Prefects and students. This way, the student body could be assured that their ideas, and desires are actually being addressed. We are all equals; there is no reason some of us should get a louder voice than others. Consequently, as a Prefect I understand that I will not be able to change the school or the systems it follows. Yet, since we are constantly in such a stressful environment, I would like to use my position as Prefect to try to bring some fun to our intense environment. Building upon ideas mentioned in Prefect Council, sophomore and junior retreats which would bond the class and give us some time off to just have fun should be planned. I will try to implement more random spirit days, such as days where KHWS would play music in the quad and days when the lounge would be transformed into a literal “lounge” filled with beanbags and free food which would allow for more relaxation. All in all, one of my main goals next year would be to increase student-Prefect interactions and to make the school environment more enjoyable for everyone.

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