By Ariel Moyal
It was 2 a.m. when Alameda High’s Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) club president, Amy Liu, received the phone call that eight of her fellow club members had been caught drinking after hours at a club-sponsored state convention. Clad in pajamas and her JSA blazer, Liu joined the others in the lobby.
“I was furious,” said Liu, “ and I was disappointed.”
The effects of this incident, which took place late in the fall, have been both individual and school-wide. Dean of students Eric Shawn was unable to comment on the discipline of the students.
As a school, students from the clubs have reported increased trepidation by teachers about chaperoning club field trips, as well existing restrictions being enforced on all club field trips in general.
Liu has struggled after the fact to maintain the club’s long-standing reputation. The AHS Junior Statesmen of America is a school chapter of a national organization for students interested in government. “The one thing I pride myself in JSA is holding a high standard of honesty and integrity, especially being involved in politics,” Liu said.
The Alameda High School chapter of JSA has been revered as a highly proactive and involved group. Some of the club members not involved in the drinking incident were “really angry,” said Liu, and others were disappointed. As a club, there have been discussions about the consequences for the students involved as well as for their club in general.
“ I definitely wasn’t angry,” said JSA member Mia Eichel. “ I think we all understand that there are temptations that come with such little supervision during an event like that.” Instead, the disappointment from the club stemmed from the lack of forethought on the part of the students involved as to how their actions would affect the club as a whole.
Club members have felt pressure to “rebuild [their] reputation and make it clear to other chapters that drinking at conventions is not the club’s intention,” said Eichel.
The club has since worked to prevent a reoccurrence by instating a no-tolerance policy for alcohol use at conventions. “It detriments the well-being of the club,” said Liu. They have also banned convention privileges for anyone involved. They were, however, allowed back to club meetings, but have not decided to rejoin the club.
For a while after the incident, Liu felt worried that the club would not survive. “ I was really frustrated. But I think the club has grown stronger since. This next convention, we are sending a record number of people.”
“The club has changed. I think we’re more focused and serious about what we want our club to represent and accomplish,” said Eichel.