Ben Borgers

Class Council: “Brutally Honest”

May 29, 2022

On March 2nd, 2021 — over a year ago — I was stressed out of my mind.

In the fall of senior year, my friends and I all won Class Council positions. We had managed to snag every single position — president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and tech board. Not that high school Class Council had any sort of significant power, but we liked holding these meetings and injecting some silliness into them.

On March 2nd of last year, someone was brutally honest to me. As a group, we’d been running the meetings with too much fun and not enough seriousness. We were messing with people on Zoom as they were talking, making inside jokes, and acting clique-y. We had a superiority complex.

I went into overdrive. Once they told me this, I could completely see it. We were great friends who had found a public platform for our jokes. The honest feedback was right.

The next part is a blur to me: I reached out to a third of Class Council personally, trying to get their honest feedback. I sat my friends down and told them what people had said, and we wrote an apology that we gave at the next Class Council meeting. We would go forward in a way that was more inclusive, step back from flaunting our power, and encourage people to participate by being less brash.

But looking back, I still feel uneasy. I’m not sure that I did the right thing.

As soon as the first person was honest with me, I had an agenda. I knew that I wanted us to apologize to the Class Council members, because I didn’t want people to think that we were bad people.

When I talked to person after person, I was digging for something: instances of how we’d acted wrongly. I pushed people to be “brutally honest.” I thought that otherwise, people wouldn’t tell me how they really felt.

But I wonder whether, in doing that, I told those people what I was digging for and so they leaned into what they realized I wanted.

In fact, a couple people flat-out said that they didn’t see a problem with what we had been doing, but I left out those people’s feedback when presenting the situation to my friends in order to form a more streamlined narrative.

I made it clear to my friends that I thought that this was a big deal. And that we should apologize, as a group. And what else were they supposed to do? It’s very hard to push back on a friend who’s saying “we’ve done wrong and should apologize.”

And so, I was responsible for this whole reflection and the apology we made. I think that I have a strong bias towards making people happy — or actually, I think that I find it unbearable when people don’t like me. So when I heard that some people didn’t like us, I was on a laser-focused mission to right the situation.

But looking back, I let that instinct win instead of stepping back. To a certain effect, I reacted instead of responding. I distinctly remember feeling like I needed to solve this problem as quickly as I could, which was probably a warning sign.

In the end, I’m not sure how to feel about how I reacted. Perhaps it’s good that I took some people’s feedback seriously, but I also think that I overreacted in a fit of panic. So to those fellow Class Council officers — and most importantly, good friends — that I pulled along with me: I’m sorry.