It seems all-school elections have become driven by who makes the most TV references, teacher-related jokes, and unrealistic promises, rather than driven by a process that truly evaluates who would best serve our school by being on council.
Don’t get us wrong – we have no problem with Ruby ’11, Rachel ’11 or any of the all-school winners, and, fortunately, in addition to being funny, we do believe they are capable. But our all-school election system – one that propagates jokes and recycled ideas about yogurt machines, hand dryers or anything else – needs to be changed.
In class elections, speeches still elicit a few laughs, but the speeches tend to be more serious and less ridiculous. Students running for class offices aren’t pressured to create an appealing persona in a few minutes, because their classmates already know them – their personalities, extracurricular activities, and, knowing Marlborough girls, probably their GPA and first choice college as well. A funny speech is simply secondary. The candidates can focus less on being a comedian and more on explaining what specifically they want to do as a class council member.
But in all-school elections, your personality, responsibility, and overall reputation outside of those three minutes count for nothing. Out of the 530 girls who vote in all school elections, only 90 or so really know the person up there. That means momentary charisma wins the race. We don’t blame the voters for this, either. If we didn’t vote based on which candidate makes us laugh the most, than what would be the basis of our voting?
We understand that the school does not advocate campaigning, and that’s not what we’re proposing. Having posters up about the candidates would most likely do nothing more than kill a few trees and result in students being blinded by glitter glue. And that kind of campaigning won’t add substance to the election.
We do, however, need to educate the student body about the all-school candidates in advance of elections. Candidates could visit class meetings where students could ask questions about their ideas. We could also create an online forum linked to student portals where candidates can post serious ideas and students can ask them serious questions.
We’re sure there are plenty of ideas for how this can happen. So maybe that should be the most serious issue this year’s council should focus on – fixing the election process.