JP Kids: BPS student rep ‘thrilled’ about Arroyo’s voting plan

April 26, 2013
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Dan Chu, the student representative who sits on the Boston School Committee, expressed enthusiasm about At-Large City Councilor Felix Arroyo’s plan to give the student representative voting power on the committee.

Arroyo, who lives in Jamaica Plain and has announced he is running for mayor, filed a hearing order in March to explore that possibility.

“I was thrilled when I heard of this plan,” Chu said in an email to the Gazette.

He said that the Boston Student Advisory Council has been trying to get the student representative a vote on the school committee for almost four years. Chu said it is “a bit awkward” not being able to say anything when the vote is called during meetings.

“While my opinion and thoughts are being heard, I wonder if they have any actual impact from time to time if there is no vote to back them up,” said Chu.

But, he said, he would have skipped voting on the controversial school-assignment plan this year.

“If I had voting power, I would have abstained until further research was done,” said Chu. “I know that many people, including myself, felt that the plan was rushed due to the mayor’s insistence.”

Chu, a Dorchester resident who is a senior at Boston Latin Academy, worked with the Boston Student Advisory Council for three years before becoming the student representative. From September 2011 to May 2012, he acted as the alternative student representative. Towards the end, Chu started attending the committee meetings regularly because Carlos Rojas, the student representative at that time, had personal issues. Chu became the student representative the next school year, which the alternative representative automatically can do after spending a year in that capacity.

“My father had taught me at a young age to always give back to the community—he was a community organizer—and I felt that this was the best way for me to do so: by representing them at the school committee and making sure student voices are heard,” Chu said about why he wanted to become the representative.

He added that being the student representative means that about 57,000 Boston Public Schools students rests on his shoulders.

Chu said he wants students to receive the best of every deal that passes through the school committee, which he noted is there to serve the students first.

“In order for this to happen, their voice must be present,” he said.

Chu, who recently turned 18, plans to attend the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to study computer science.

“I hope to go into game design or cyber security,” he said.