Student Forum is a moment when students speak and faculty and staff listen. Held each year, Student Forum gives students an opportunity to share their thoughts and questions about life at Branksome Hall. A panel of faculty and staff are present, representing areas of the school including academics, facilities, guidance, athletics and more.
Student Government Prefect, Calista Mortimer helps to organize Student Forum, which she notes is her favourite event at Branksome. “Student Forum is a dedicated time and space to create bridges between students and the administration in order to work towards positive changes within the community,” she explained.
At Student Forum held this November, feedback from students ranged across a variety of subjects, from suggestions about mental health resources to uniforms, and from course selection to enhancements to the Lower Field. One of the reasons the Student Forum is so constructive is that students come with suggestions in addition to their comments and questions.
“This year I shifted the forum to be less solution-oriented and more suggestion-oriented so students could bring issues forth that society may be facing and [for which] the world may not have a solution. This means we work together to address the complexity of a situation without a quick fix,” explained Calista. When students offer a suggestion, faculty and staff have a helpful starting point from which to consider the potential change.
All of the suggestions and concerns are recorded and distributed so that this information can be taken into consideration and action taken on suggestions wherever possible. As one example, at a past Student Forum, students expressed their wish for more vegan and vegetarian food options, and now the school cafeteria has a dedicated vegetarian station with new options available every day.
These forums are well attended and provide an opportunity for students to practise articulating their opinions in a constructive way. “I have attended every single forum since seventh grade and have always adored it,” said Calista. “One cannot expect change without voicing the need or want for it.”