Voices of student government heard through resolutions passed at AASG conference

Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 10:03 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - From kids voting to classroom debates, there are a handful of opportunities for teens to express their political views and concerns to each other and to their teachers.

Outside the classroom, teens struggle to have their voices heard and they have no ability to vote until senior year of high school at the earliest. But, for those in student government they have a chance to truly discuss the issues that impact them the most.

During the Alaska Association of Student Governments fall conference, many topics came up and multiple resolutions were passed. By looking at these resolutions, we can better understand the concerns of our students and they can have their voices heard.

While many other topics were discussed, four resolutions passed by the Alaska Association of Student Governments (AASG) helped us understand their perspective and the conflicts between them.

Passing with unanimous support was Resolution 4: Establishment, Rights, and Voting Privileges of Student School Board Members. This resolution focused on the recent action of the Mat-Su Borough School Board which voted in favor of limiting student representation at school board meetings. In response to the Mat-Su School Board’s vote, AASG supported actions that would reinstate student representation in the Mat-Su school district and further protect student representation in school boards across the state.

On the topic of book bans, there was noted opposition but resolution 13 opposing book bans was passed. In this resolution students cited the near 320 percent rise of books challenged in 2021. They also called out some school districts in Alaska for banning books including popular titles such as The Great Gatsby, Catch-22 and Invisible Man.

On the note of self expression resolution 15 focused on the desire of West Valley High School graduates. Specifically their desire to decorate their graduation caps. AASG cited the policy of school elsewhere in the state and nation and the support of West Valley’s principal in an effort to pass the resolution. It passed unanimously.

Finally, when it comes to bathroom policies, a resolution supporting transgender students ability to use the bathroom they identify with was passed with some opposition. Primary points made by students included the loss of funding faced by states that prohibited transgender students from choosing their bathroom, policies in other states, and health research from Harvard University.

While all of these topics are important to our students, it is clear the discussion isn’t as one sided as many believe. We can also see our students tend to favor more personal freedom in their life choices and they do not condone regulation or suppression of school materials, or student representation.