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ChatGPT Town Hall Generates Mixed Reactions from Student Body


On Tuesday, September 19th, the newly assembled Town Hall team hosted a controversial Town Hall about the role of ChatGPT in school. 

The Town Hall took place in multiple locations, with students grouped across grades and advisories. Many students’ opinions on the event varied based on where their Town Hall took place. “My group had a lot of engagement and debate,” remarked one student who attended the Beit Knesset Forum. Meanwhile, another student who had hers in the gym said, “Everyone kept saying the same things.” 

The one conclusion that students came to was that the program lacked a sense of purpose. “The conversations were nice, but I didn’t really understand why it was happening,” a junior who attended the Beit Knesset meeting stated. “It felt pointless,” concluded another. These students agreed that if the Town Hall led to concrete policy change, they would have had more positive reactions. 

Social Studies Department Chair and member of the Town Hall Team Max Lazar responded to these comments stating, “I don’t think we thought there would be a lot of clarity by the end.” Lazar continued, “[The Town Hall] lets [the teachers and administration] know what students think about this and how they are using it.” To that point, Lazar considers the Town Hall to be a success because it prompted a passionate dialogue among the student body. 

When asked whether the Town Hall could possibly result in a permanent ChatGPT policy change, Lazar said, “I could definitely see a change happening, but I can’t tell you when that would happen or what that change would look like.” He specified that since the technology is constantly evolving and still in its early stages, it would be unrealistic to expect the school to change its policy in such haste. However, Lazar mentioned that the English and Social Studies Departments are already doing research to see how the generative A.I tool could be best utilized in a school setting. 

Lazar concluded by asserting that the idea of trying to “catch people” using ChatGPT is a waste of time. Instead, he believes that the school should be asking itself, “‘How do we adapt to something like this?’” 

Despite the mixed reactions and inconclusiveness of the first Town Hall of the year, it undeniably sparked conversations from students and teachers alike.

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