Alum defends actions as Student Body President

I want to take this opportunity to address what was said in the April 23, 2008 editorial entitled “Ask us what we think” and the May 28, 2008 article entitled “Former Student Council member reacts to criticism” written by my friend and former classmate Gil Imber ’06.

Both articles make irresponsible, factual errors, and both articles strongly imply that I was central to the decision to implement the new student government. The anonymous author of the newspaper’s April editorial “Ask us what we think” writes: “The decision to create this new body was made by the faculty and the student government of 2005-2006 and reduced the number of representatives from 22 to 14. Andrew Segal ’06, Student Body President at the time, said that it was unnecessary to have the student body vote because they had already decided to put the new government through.”

In a similar vein, Imber ’06 writes that the new student government “was a concept bred out of closed-door meetings between Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra, Honor Board Chairs Billy Whitaker ’06 and Dani Koo ’06 and Student Body Presidents Andrew Segal ’06 and Tessa Williams ’06.”

This is simply not true. The decision to create the new student government was made in the year before I became president of the student body by the 2004-2005 presidents, chairs of the Honor Board and Mr. Salamandra.

In fact, though it may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with the situation (and apparently some who are familiar with the situation), I opposed the new student government when the idea came up for discussion when I served as president of the junior class during the 2004-2005 school year. The new student government was supposed to be implemented in time for my senior year; however, the architects of the system decided to delay its implementation by one year in hopes of smoothing out some inherent kinks.

Williams, my fellow Student Body president, Whitaker and Koo, the 2005-2006 chairs of the Honor Board, and I were supposed to usher in the new system. However, the decision to put the new student government into effect was not ours to make – and I can’t stress this enough.

I am happy that the authors of both articles have gone through the trouble of engaging the topic at hand. Indeed, criticism, dissent and an aptitude for reevaluation are all part of what makes the academic community at Harvard-Westlake so vibrant.

I am also happy that these articles were brought to my attention, lest their fallacious assertions go unanswered.

Yet I would like to conclude with a few requests. Firstly, let’s be more professional with rhetoric. Imber says “I discerned a tenor of totalitarianism exuding from the administration.” The administration is no junta, and though Imber is simply trying to demonstrate a point, I believe his efforts are undermined by his flamboyant rhetoric.

Secondly, when peoples’ supposed opinions are cited with no specific quotations, I would ask that authors verify the veracity of said opinions prior to publication. The use of misinformation is poisonous and unprofessional, and furthermore, it can be detrimental to the critical project at hand.

— Andrew Segal ’06
Student Body President, 2005 – 2006