Age of Apathy

The general apathy with which our grade is approaching the role of the leaders at Harvard-Westlake is surprising and disconcerting.

One of the most prominent manifestations of the rise to school supremacy is the primary election of six Head Prefect candidates. However, there was a slight problem with this year’s primary: there was none. Only four students found the inspiration to even throw their hats into the ring, only one of whom is a student government neophyte.

I don’t know about you, but my money is on Jennie Porter to take the top female spot. Now before I get the cuffs thrown on me for violating the “no gambling” clause in the student handbook, know that this is a pretty safe wager, seeing as she is running uncontested.

Now, I’ve got nothing against Ms. Porter; she’ll make a fine prefect. But is Porter’s platform really so rock-solid that no one had an alternate opinion on how the school should be run? At least the boys had one newcomer to throw some intrigue and fresh blood into the election, but the fact remains that, as a whole, our grade is quite indifferent to how the school is run. Sure, we love to complain about the actions of the prefect council or the perceived injustices inflicted by the administration, but next to no one had the initiative to try and bring about some change. If we don’t do anything when given the chance, we do not deserve to bitch and moan about the governing system.

We can’t summon the enthusiasm for a position that presides over everything at our school, which leaves little hope for school spirit next year. The last two senior classes have left big shoes to fill, with grade-wide theme days and a general sense of camaraderie providing the foundation for a functioning school social scene, but I have a hard time believing that on the last day as a class, we’re going to sing songs in a tearful circle like last year’s seniors did. What makes our class so much more apathetic than those of years before? The fact that we have been shedding members like a Wall Street firm for the past couple of years certainly hasn’t helped. The biggest incident of class diminution was the infamous cheating scandal, which scarred our grade and left us several members fewer for our troubles. With that controversy, we as sophomores were effectively branded the black sheep of the upper school community. Perhaps we pled guilty to this charge and receded into our respective friend groups, leaving an amorphous blob of a community in its place.

Maybe the bleak college admissions outlook has led to our indifference. We have heard too many times of the glut of applicants in our grade, and the scarcity of spots at top institutions has made us dial down our aspirations. If you’re not getting into Harvard, then what is the point of racking up extracurricular points such as prefect positions?

A key part of the Harvard-Westlake experience is the individual competition and ambition that forces us to run faster, reach farther and bring out the best in ourselves. It seems, though, that we have instead lain down our arms, resigned ourselves to our fate and renounced our rightful places as the next role models of the school. It is up to us to keep up the tradition of excellence for which our school is known. The alarm is sounding, but no one is answering.

The jocks have surely done their part to cultivate school spirit. Three CIF titles in the most recent athletic season and girls’ soccer’s state championship have certainly given us something to rally around. And the prospects for next year are perfectly titillating: boys’ and girls’ basketball both went deep into the state tournament without one senior starter. The Fanatics will most certainly be busy next year. All we as a class need to do for next year is follow these squads’ leads. Individual talent and ambition are no less abundant this year than in classes past, but we need to work together as a unit to prevent 3700 Coldwater Canyon from ending up the socially barren wasteland it could become with a factionalized, unenthusiastic senior class.

The bell is ringing; the time for action is now. And, in the words of John Donne, ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for all of us.