The Gunn Administration and the Big Bad Wolf of Responsibility

Gunn Administration,

You have been hereby charged with the crime of gross negligence and immense stress overload of Gunn High School student body. Your punishment? Well, apparently, as of yet, nothing. You have definitively ruined the coming weeks of over 150 students–with many more waiting for the news–and there have been zero repercussions. After all, it was just a mistake, right? Just an “inconvenience?”

I think dealing with mistakes is a rather simple concept. You make a mistake, you fix it. So why is it, then, that when students open up a Schoology message from the principal, the students are told that the responsibility is on them to work out a compromise with their teachers? That there is even an implication that students should be made to complete the same work they would have done otherwise with the additional AP retakes is unreasonable, and frankly, insulting. It is insulting because it disrespects the student’s time and personal freedom as well as disregards the administration’s responsibility to take action. While at first, the emails sent out by various administrators may seem caring and helpful, reading into them reveals little more than a kind face, and certainly not a helping hand. Herein lies the main grievance that many students hold with the Gunn administration: they just don’t do anything. They don’t take responsibility. They don’t take action to enforce new ideas. They don’t confront the general student body. They say things. They say they take responsibility, that they are sorry. They say that the teachers will be flexible. They say that the students are heard, that they feel for them. But it is never something done. Actions speak louder than words, which would explain why the Gunn administration offices are so quiet.

To be clear, I am not advocating for Gunn students to be removed of any involvement from the process of action–far from it. Students should be brought to the table. But we weren’t. So here we are, wondering how we can possibly convince our teachers to let us not take finals or reschedule tests because of a mistake that we didn’t cause. Oh, yeah, let me reiterate that point again. We didn’t cause this mistake. In the other myriad situations wherein the Gunn administration caused general dissatisfaction or polarization within the student body, (zero period, grad cap decorations, brown bag lunch, new schedule formation, the list goes on…) the issues were multi-faceted, with many parties having various interests at stake. Here, in the midst of a APgate, the disaster can be traced back to a single group: the Gunn administration. I realize that proctors and other individuals were involved in the administration of the AP tests, but at the end of the day, the Gunn administration is ultimately responsible for the supervision and AP test service. They failed to provide an acceptable testing service at no fault of the students, and now the students are left to effectively fend for themselves. The Schoology message sent to seniors literally told students to compromise with their teachers, as if the students had some sort of obligation to sort this mess out themselves. As I have just summarized, they don’t. The Gunn administration does. If I were to spill a drink on someone, I would clean it up. I don’t get to put napkins in front of them and walk away.

Stress is a large part of Gunn’s culture already, and there is so much talk about how we are going to “de-stress” Gunn High School. There are a great many stressed students who now have more stress in addition to AP retakes due to impending conversations with teachers. If every teacher was the nicest, most accepting and kind person that ever existed, this policy would be just fine. Sadly, we do not live in a utopia, as evidenced by the fact that the current Gunn administration is still employed. There are teachers who are not so kind and understanding–this is not a specific shot at any one teacher, just a general statement to be understood. These are teachers, some of whom I am in direct contact with, that will not be offering any sort of flexibility, or the “flexibility” that they do offer is minimal or given with disdain. The ball of “de-stressing” Gunn is in your court, Gunn administration. Show us that you can do something with it, not just tell us to.

So, Gunn administration, on whom the responsibility for this disaster solely lies, please come to the stand. You are in the public eye now, and it’s your move. You can fix this mistake that you caused. You can take real action, actively listen to students, and bring them to the table. You can offer an honest helping hand and give students the tools they need to succeed academically, not just expect them to navigate alone the dangerous waters of teacher negotiations that you created. You have the power to ameliorate this problem and to take responsibility in the true sense of the word. Or you can do what your track record would have us believe you would: nothing. Make it a great end of the school year–or not–the choice is yours.

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