As indicated by hallways are plastered with promises to “improve your high school experience,” provide “positive changes for YOU,” and “make this school better for all” by “representing fully the student community.” The election season (and all its accompanying baggage) is officially well on its way.
Although the Board of Elections (BOE) has made several big changes this year, the election procedure continues to be a confusing, ineffective, and extensively restricted process that yields an equally confusing, ineffective, and extensively restricted Student Union (SU). The SU, shortly after the election of their new President and Vice President, becomes an organization that we, as the represented students, choose to either adamantly criticize or peacefully ignore, but almost never to fully support. Rather than continuing to define the SU as an inherently toothless establishment, it is time for us to reassess the way we elect our leaders and the role of SU in our school. Ultimately, we want to believe that student representatives can convey our ideas about our school community to a receptive administration, but we fear that the system is stacked against them.
The problem often begins with the very people deciding to run, candidates who are usually searching for another big-name title to stick on to their resumes rather than for the opportunity to challenge the school’s biggest flaws. The administration has been so unresponsive to attempts made by the SU that perhaps leaders seeking real change are discouraged from running.
The administration offers little flexibility to new and innovative ideas. It has made it clear that it does not need or expect the SU to make significant changes within the school. In recent discussions regarding hot topics such as the dress code and the leadership policy, student input seems to be valued less than ever. The administration consistently puts its foot down without even taking the time to consider student opinions. It seems that a conscious decision has been made to put an end to open discussion and compromise with the SU.
So although we acknowledge that the administration puts up a serious barrier challenging the SU, we need candidates who will fight against the brick-wall. We want to elect leaders who will force the students’ concerns past the administration’s unresponsive exterior. The question, then, becomes which of our candidates is willing to push the boundaries, and ultimately, what will be their results?It doesn’t help that SU platforms are generic and uniform throughout the races, all of them promising open communication and a focus on the student body: vague and abstract claims with little basis on concrete plans. With all the candidates offering more or less the same school bliss, we end up picking the most recognizable name on the ballot — if we choose to vote at all, that is. Students seem to be more involved in the election process this year thanks to Facebook, Twitter and Formspring pages, and hopefully this will manifest itself in the form of an improved voter turnout in May. In previous years, voting only occurred at asingle ballot location by the bridge, but it’s now also been expanded to the fifth floor along with computerized ballot-collection to increase efficiency. Students who were previously discouraged from voting due to longlines and a lack of privacy will hopefully now have more opportunities to do so.