Students Express Issues For SMOB to Address

Every year, Howard County Public School System offers middle and high school students an opportunity to vote for their next Student Member of the Board of Education (SMOB). There was a SMOB convention on March 22, where the SMOB delegate nominated two candidates, and voting will take place on May 4, 2022. The purpose of a SMOB is to represent HCPSS students and listen to their options and issues. What issues do students want the next SMOB to address?  

On the left is sophomore Abisola Ayoola and to the right is junior Oliver Song. Both candidates are Wilde Lake High School students

In a recent interview with junior Yunah Kwon, she expressed her views on some issues that she feels strongly about, including unsanitary bathroom conditions, students’ mental health, and diversity in the education system.  

Kwon believes that a lot of these issues have not been addressed because the SMOB has a lot on their plate in terms of issues that they find more prevalent. 

“The SMOB could improve the process by bringing certain issues to the table and prioritizing them before the Board,” Kwon expressed. 

Sophomore Srinidhi Gadiyaram shares slightly different views regarding what issues she thinks are important. “I feel strongly about the issue of peer pressure. Additionally, the inconsistency of some teachers in either teaching styles, grading, or overall assignments,” Gadiyaram said. “Peer pressure mainly isn’t an issue that is or can be addressed because of the consequences that come with involving yourself in those situations.”

She also believes that these issues are not often addressed because there is a stigma that students who report these incidents are often looked down upon. To address these issues, she advises students to report these experiences anonymously to ensure that they will feel safe and will not receive any backlash. 

Both Gadiyaram and Kwon agree that speaking with Student Government Association representatives or school counselors are good ideas if a student has any concerns about a school issue, policy, etc.  

In terms of the role of the SMOB, Kwon believes that the SMOB should make efforts to understand students’ views and give them a voice. She elaborated that a SMOB should branch out to minority students and really offer every student an opportunity to express their opinion. She believes that hosting town halls and open forums are simply not enough because they do not capture students’ options, which is something that the current SMOB is doing. 

“The SMOB also has a duty to inform the Board of Education about students’ personal concerns and start discussions about issues that students feel strongly about,” Kwon stated.  

Gadiyaram believes that the SMOB should always be accessible to students so that students can feel heard. She noted that the SMOB should be reliable and comprehensive with their decisions because their actions carry a lot of weight. Ultimately, she believes that the SMOB has a significant role to play in representing all students of HCPSS.  

“They should feel confident enough in their own answers to be able to assist Howard County as a whole,” Gadiyaram said.  

Despite Gadiyaram and Kwon’s views, they both encourage people to vote for the next SMOB member as they will be the representatives for all HCPSS student voices and be the voice that higher officials will listen to.  


For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.