Who decides Bellarmine’s policies? Students, faculty/administration, or both?

Recently, the student handbook and policies have created confusion in the student body and tension between students and faculty. The cause of this tension is many students are under the impression that policies only a faculty and administrative decision. At the same time, there is a bigger story leading to how policy at Bellarmine is made and how Bellarmine could make policy in the future.

In an interview with Cari Harrison, Dean of Students, she described how policy at Bellarmine is established . Policies must be in compliance with the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and then reviewed by our school attorney.

“We’re not a little island on our own,” said Cari Harrison, explaining that although policy directly affects those in our community, many outside voices influence it.

Afterwards, the administration team has a voice on the final draft before becoming official policy enforced at school. Many students disliked this process because it had no student voice in the decision-making process despite directly affecting them.

“Personally, I would like our policies to have more [student] voice,” said Cari Harrison.

Because of this, a new body in the Association Student Body was created recently, called the Student-Faculty Senate. This body’s goal is to receive students’ voices in policy to minimize tension between students and faculty. As a result, many students and faculty alike are excited to see how this body can positively impact the community.

Despite the hope the Senate brings to the community, the newness of the body comes with some growing pains. David Añel, a previous representative to the Student Senate, spoke about some of the difficulties the senate had in the past.

“For the most part [we] struggle with communication with the administration and also with the students,” said Añel.

Combating these issues is taking steps to alleviate these problems. Corinne Harrison, a senior representative of the Student Senate, talked about some solutions, such as a petition for vegan and vegetarian options in the cafe. She also spoke about attending Principal Advisory Committee meetings so that the student’s voice is involved in policy-making.

As Bellarmine continues to welcome more students on campus, its policy should also receive student opinions and voices. It is impossible to abolish the student handbook at the moment, but students can speak up to make changes for what they want to see right now. It starts with reading the handbook and having conversations not only with classmates but also with teachers and coaches. Creating an inclusive climate and culture requires everyone to get involved and work together.