Student Council elections are merely a popularity contest

Akari Shimura, Contributing Writer

A few weeks ago, Schreiber held its annual student council election.  Posters with catchy slogans plastered the school walls in preparation for the main event: the speeches.  The day of the event, promises of change rang through the gym in front of the entire student body. But did they actually make a difference?

High school is composed of cliques. Parties, if you will.  As in any election, these groups often vote for one candidate —typically the candidate who is friends with most members of said group.  In other words, popularity, not the speech’s content and rhetoric, translates directly to votes. Often, candidates that show real potential but are not part of “mainstream” high schools society, but are instead belittled and unfortunately disregarded.  Meanwhile, those with a large friend base are usually guaranteed a position on the student body council.

“The election is more of a popularity contest, rather than an evaluation of the contender’s speech,” said junior and contestant Melody Sagastume.  “Teenagers tend to vote for their best friend over anyone else.”

Popularity contests in high school are inevitable even more so than biases in elections.  In a sense, a strong candidate will thrive if he or she has support because students do not take candidates’ potentials into account when they go into the voting booth and elect members to the student council.  Some argue that the unjust voting results from student ignorance of changes that student council brings.

“As a member of student council for four years, I know what happens during meetings and how events occur while the average student doesn’t,” said senior Michelle Lammers.  “I think because the students don’t really know what changes are happening, they don’t feel a need to pay attention during the election. This results in people voting for their friends.”

Even before they enter the booth, even before they enter the gym to listen to speeches, students have candidates they are going to elect in mind.  Very minimal changes, if any, are made to each person’s list.

The candidates are fully aware of the situation plaguing student elections.  In response, they demand change.

“As a candidate, I gave a lot of thought to how I would like to represent the student body to the school administration,” said freshman Aaron Siff-Scherr.  “In terms of popularity, I think  it’s unfair that every successful candidate had to rely on a base of people to get elected.”

In national elections, voters have access to statistics with which evaluate the candidates’ honesty. These numbers are the rawest and most honest indicators of a candidate’s values.  However, in high schools, no such records are kept. Voters are forced to trust a candidate’s promises, and to evaluate their character based on the speech.  Naturally, what a candidate says during the three minutes allotted does not define them as an effective or ineffective candidate.  Thus, it makes sense that students vote for the candidate  with whom they are most familiar and personally like; it is the only attribute that they gauge by personal experience.