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The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

Youth Commission pushed back after city council fails to communicate

Students applying to the newly founded East Lansing Youth Commission have faced delay and lack of communication from the City Council. 

On Sept. 27, the East Lansing City Council passed Ordinance 1524 to found the Youth Commission. The reason behind creating this commission was to include youth voices into decision making that will alter the future of East Lansing as a whole.

This commission will be made up of nine teens who are residents of East Lansing or attend ELHS from the ages of 14 to 18. The individuals who are accepted on to the commission will serve a one year term. They will meet once a month to voice their concerns and suggestions on the behalf of the youth of East Lansing directly to the City Council. 

Announcements regarding the commission have been continually sent out to students’ school emails and have been advertised in community spaces. However, behind the scenes, communication hasn’t been this clear, placing a delay on the initiation of the commission. Reena Natla (11) is one of these applicants who is actively facing lack of communication from the City Council.

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When Natla first heard about the interest in creating the commission, she was immediately intrigued in taking part in what she could to aid the youth of her community. 

“I’ve always been interested in getting to be a part of the community and advocating for people who look like me and who are my age,” Natla said. 

After attending a focus group on Apr. 17 at the Hannah Community Center, Natla was informed that council members would reach out to her to follow up after the meeting. After a few months, Natla realized that she had never received any messages from the City Council.

“I realized in July that they hadn’t reached out whatsoever and I [thought] that was kind of interesting,” Natla said. “And on top of this, they didn’t give us any contact information for us to reach out to.”

In late August, it was brought to applicants’ attention that the City Council needed to, once again, review a document that outlined the creation of the commission. When this document was reapproved, applications were sent out to the youth of East Lansing in late September. Natla filled out an application, and recalled it being easy to complete, but felt frustrated by how much it was pushed back. 

“I applied through this online application that was pretty simple,” Natla said. “They were just asking why you applied and about your extracurricular stuff, so it was a pretty straightforward application. I just don’t like how delayed it was.” 

On Oct. 4, the City Council sent out an email to Natla and other candidates for the commission to establish in-person interviews. The email stated that a response was needed by Oct. 6, which Holyn Walsh (11), another applicant, felt gave applicants inadequate time to respond. Many individuals, like Walsh and Natla, did not see this email until after the required due date.

Since Natla wasn’t able to attend an interview, an email was sent on Oct. 17 with embedded questions for candidates like her to fill out in place of an in-person interview. Natla completed these questions with in-depth answers and submitted them to the City Council for approval. As of Nov. 7, she has not received any further communications from the council on the results of this interview. 

In the same email, applicants were asked to attend a city council meeting, but the request came with short notice and included little information. Natla wasn’t able to attend and found out at a later date that the meeting was canceled after searching the archives of the website. These archives are not easily accessible to the general public. 

As someone who has been interested in the Youth Commission from the very beginning, Natla appreciates City Council members holding an interest meeting early on, but wishes that they had a timely schedule after this for the actual creation of the commission. 

“I wish that instead of holding the interest meeting, then having us wait a while, they would have had the interest meeting and then had a set plan for the stuff that happened afterwards,” Natla said. “Going forward, I really hope there is a more set schedule.”

Even after all the delay and absence of communication, Natla is still excited about the opportunity to help advocate for the youth of East Lansing. However, she carries some concern going into it. 

“Going forward, I hope it won’t be like the meetings just getting canceled randomly because I’m a busy person,” Natla said. “I’m still interested in advocating for those around me, but I am a little hesitant because it is kind of unorganized.”

Disclaimer: This article is purely based on student experiences because Portrait faced a similar lack of communication from city council members in regards to the Youth Commission. After first reaching on Oct. 11, we have not received a response from the city council as of Nov. 7. We have sent follow-up emails and calls in addition to this, in which communication back was promised by city council members, but we have not received said information. 

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About the Contributor
Belle Potter, Staff Writer
Belle Potter is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore. Belle's favorite thing about journalism is being able to accurately share and tell the unique stories of all the students and staff she has the pleasure of speaking to here at ELHS.   When she's not in the newsroom, Belle enjoys swimming, makes jewelry, drawing, watching movies, and hanging out with her friends.

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