Buffalo Grove, Stevenson students turn the debate to tanning
Stevenson High School student Samuel Alder addresses the Buffalo Grove Village Board on Oct. 22 during the annual "Civics Session" between the trustees and student councils from BGHS and SHS. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:42PM
BUFFALO GROVE — Deep in election season, teens from Stevenson and Buffalo Grove high schools put aside their thoughts about the economy and foreign affairs to debate the issue of tanning.
Eleven Patriots and 11 Bison gathered at Buffalo Grove Village Hall Oct. 22 for the schools’ 2012 Civics Forum, which has been an annual event for more than 20 years.
“I thought this was something that they would definitely have an opinion on,” explained Zach Crandall, the BGHS instructor who helped organize the forum.
The forum was launched to give students the chance to debate an issue before Buffalo Grove’s Village Board. The students defend their viewpoints against the trustees, who take on the opposing position as each side makes its case.
Debating the safety of tanning beds, one group was instructed to propose an ordinance that would prohibit minors from artificial tanning, often referred to as a “fake bake.” The other group had to prove why this was a bad idea.
After the debate, Crandall reported that he was impressed how students addressed the complexity of the subject, which touched on health issues, municipal economics, parenting, gender stereotypes and the role of local government.
“This was one of the better ones that I’ve seen,” the sixth-year instructor said. “The trustees seemed pretty impressed by the points that were brought up.”
The group supporting the “fake bake” ban said tanning beds are no more dangerous to minors than to those of legal age, but they argued that teens can be more prone to making poor decisions.
“The health risk should overshadow the desires of some people,” said Sabrina Zalova, a Stevenson senior.
“There will be a backlash,” added SHS senior Yamini Chandra, “but over time, they will realize that this was a good thing.”
The opposing group pointed out that, unless the fictitious ordinance generated a wave of support in surrounding communities, it would serve only to hurt the 10 Buffalo Grove businesses that offer tanning beds.
“They could just go three minutes down the road to another tanning salon,” said Nikhita Luthra, a SHS senior.
Stevenson senior Juliana Snarski argued that a ban also wouldn’t address the core of the issue.
“The government is banning tanning without trying to fix the underlying reasons for why they’re going tanning in the first place,” she explained.
To make their arguments, both sides weren’t afraid to show some toughness and challenge the trustees.
At several points, as one trustee would yield the floor to a colleague, a student would jump in, asking to address a comment the board member had just made.
Crandall said he was impressed by how both sides pushed their points.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kids to make a presentation to the board,” he said. “They were not intimidated. Hopefully, it gave the board something to think about. It looked like they were taking it to heart pretty well.”