Landslide schoolwide vote returns Constitution to the second floor lobby


BP Photo by Evan Beller

OLD: The school’s original Just Community Constitution, signed by students in 2003, was returned to the second-floor stairway lobby on Feb. 23.

By Tali Liebenthal, Community Editor

Although it wasn’t welcomed by speeches and the playing of the National Anthem, on Feb. 23 the Just Community Constitution was restored to the center wall of the second-floor lobby, after a Just Community vote of 119 to 14 at the end of Town Hall on Feb. 18.

The giant framed document, signed by faculty and students in 2002, resided on the main wall of the second floor lobby opposite the spiral staircase until October 2020, when it was moved for an admissions event.

Next it was stored in the administrative conference room for about nine months, after which it was placed on a wall in the administrative suite near the front entrance to the school. This appeared to be its final destination at the time.

The proposal to replace it at the geographical center of the school was brought by junior Evan Beller, who thought that the administrative suite was not prominent enough for such an important document.

“The Shalhevet Just Community Constitution is a large part of the school but currently resides in a location that is not easily visible and is mostly unseen, ” wrote Evan in his proposal.

He also spoke about it briefly at Town Hall before the vote.

“The Constitution is often brought up when discussing the school and its history, an object of such importance should not be hidden away,” Evan said. “The Constitution should be proudly displayed for all students to see on the second floor, not shoved to the side in the executive suite.”

After leaving the second floor, it was replaced on the second floor with a colorful painting entitled “The Tower,” by David Meytal. Then last May the painting was also taken down, and replaced by a mural of stickers arranged in the shape of a map of Israel for Yom Haatzmaut.

Evan said that part of what inspired his proposal was complaints that he had heard from other students about the sticker mural.

Having it downstairs doesn’t sound like the right move right now, because we really want to show what we are about.

— Evan Beller, 11th grade

“It was supposed to be a temporary art installation for the Yom Haatzmaut event last year, but it ended up staying there for about eight months I believe,” he told the Boiling Point. “I’ve heard a lot of complaints about students disliking the placement of the new constitution, and just really not enjoying the new art installation.”

Before it could be voted on, Evan’s proposal had to be approved by the Judicial Review Committee under rules added to the Constitution in 2020, which decides whether or not a proposal is about curriculum, or religious or secular law, topics excluded from Shalhevet democracy.

The committee is made up of student, teacher and administration representatives, and its meetings are private. But Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Abraham Lieberman, who is the faculty’s representative, said no one at the meeting was opposed to it.

“I think everyone was in favor of it, it was overwhelming” Rabbi Lieberman told The Boiling Point. “The discussion surrounding it was not even long.”

The proposal came before the Just Community on Feb. 18 at Town Hall, led by Agenda Chair Jack Sanders.

“My proposal is to move the Just Community constitution back from the administrative suite to the second floor to replace that temporary mural,” said Evan when introducing his proposal at town hall.

“Having it downstairs doesn’t sound like the right move right now, because we really want to show what we are about.”

He said the majority of the Shalhevet community supported his proposal.

“People on Agenda really liked it, I didn’t really face any opposition from it,” Evan said. “It seemed like everyone was on board with it.”

Ironically, except for Evan’s brief presentation the discussion at Town Hall that day did not touch on the Constitution. It was about Hashkama Minyan, which the Judicial Review Committee had ruled could not be voted on by the Just Community. The Boiling Point Editorial Board had requested that the students vote on whether Hashkama should be open to all students, and the Agenda Committee decided to discuss it even though it would not be voted on.