Oracle After Hours: How fair are Student Council elections?

Aria Jain, columnist

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The start of a new school year—sports, activities, and the student council elections—really kicks me into high gear. However, with all of the opportunities South has to offer, it gets me thinking about the fairness of these activities, especially the objectivity of the student council elections. 

Each year, students from all four grades can choose to run for a position in student council. They must receive at least 50 signatures from their peers to be on the ballot, running for the position of their choice. Then, with the picture and the name of each candidate, students vote for which student they believe is most ‘qualified’ for that specific position. But with only the names and pictures of each candidate, how do students know what the candidate’s goals and beliefs are?

To me, the elections are essentially popularity contests, based on who people know rather than merit. When I see the ballot, I vote for the students that I recognize because I do not have any other information to base my decision on. Yet, I do not believe that is the true spirit of student council. The elections should be based on who voters deem to best embody a leader and who believes in the qualities they value. Although the current election system gives everyone a chance to run and vote, it does not give an equal opportunity for candidates to express their reasons for running and beliefs about how to improve our school. 

It is important for the candidates to have specific goals and values because the students we elect will represent us. If they are only in their position because they were well-known, they have not proven that they will best represent the student body. It is beneficial to have students in office who reflect their class’s ideas in a positive way because more will be accomplished throughout the year. 

At the same time, this election process is only used for sophomores and above. Freshmen candidates running for president and vice-president have to give a speech about why they should be elected. While these speeches may fall on mostly deaf ears, they at least get ideas out in the open. This may finally encourages voters to think about the true purpose of the election. Once they actually consider why these candidates want to be on Student Council, and students begin to think about the real point of the elections, the more of an impact candidate opinions will have. 

Another element of freshmen elections is that the ballots are done on paper rather than email. I find that this aspect of the election makes it more personal than filling out a form online. It makes the voters really think about who they are voting for because, after seeing them give a speech, they are able to put a face to the name. With the freshman voting system, the real point of student council is accomplished. 

I hope that in the future, all elections for all grades will adopt the system the freshmen use and every position will get a shot to share their views. Even though organizing all the students from one grade together to listen to students give speeches can seem unnecessary, it is part of the ‘spirit’ student council has built. It also makes the participants and listeners feel more included in our student government. The increased feeling of inclusion will help the student body to be more enthusiastic about the elections and take the candidates’ vision to heart. Instead of the elections being a popularity contest, I want the students at South to really think about who deserves their vote before they cast their ballot.

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