This year, Leadership implemented a new election system intended to improve class participation in the democratic student government. These changes to the election process include candidate conventions, live speeches and mandatory voting.
The largest change may be the candidate convention this year. Associated Student Body President, Geneca Licuanan, says, “All of the grades between incoming sophomores to incoming seniors had to go to a mandatory assembly during flex time in the theater, and they were introduced to ASB candidates and class council candidates.”
Leadership advisor Melissa Perino says, “A couple years ago when I took this position, the officers weren’t even making speeches. So they weren’t required to even make a speech and so that’s why we agreed it was a popularity contest, because if you don’t even stand up to say what your platform is, then how can students be making an informed decision?”
Last year, candidates recorded speeches that were emailed to the student body; however, this did not ensure that all students realistically opened the link or viewed the videos.
Additionally, Perino says, “We heard students saying things like ‘I’m not really sure what a class president does, so I’m not going to vote, I’m not informed,’ which is why we had the mandatory candidate conventions, to inform and then [we had] time embedded into the school day for them to vote.”
For the candidates, this was a mostly welcomed change to the election process. Sophomore Anna Zhang, a candidate and winner for ASB Treasurer, says, “The main difference is connecting with the students more and having them understand the candidates and the whole thing is more inclusive for everybody because last year we just had speeches sent out on video… [and] nobody really knew who the candidates were.”
Another major change was the mandatory voting implemented for each class. In the past, voting was optional for students who wished to go to the voting booth during lunch on their own time. However, this changed, according to Perino. She says, “The history teachers who were interested in spreading the enthusiasm for the democratic process agreed to allow us to have voting in their classes.”
Students from the freshmen, sophomore, and junior classes were mandated to vote during their history class. This ensured 100 percent participation in voting versus the previous voter turnout, which was approximately only one third of each class.
Freshman and recently-elected sophomore class president Ellen Batsuuri says, “I think [mandatory voting] is really going to help because in the past we’ve had very few students vote … But there is also that side that maybe they’ll pick a random person or they weren’t paying attention.”
Licuanan says, “Also just being aware that there are class council meetings once a month for each grade and just knowing that there is more class council involvement within the class.”
The election process has improved in recent years. Sophomore and now junior class president Michele Daningelis says, “It gives you the opportunity to put yourself out there and talk to a lot of people you wouldn’t normally talk to.”