Call for a proper democracy

Last year, The Standard Editorial board called for the reform of the Student Council (StuCo) presidential election. We recognize that our previous editorial came at a date too late to be considered by StuCo. However, with the new year underway, The Standard again calls for the further democratization of the election process.

This editorial board believes that in order to find the most suitable candidate for presidency, a popular vote needs to replace the current procedure that only allows the 20 elected grade level representatives to cast their votes.

Yes, the current process is a decision amongst individuals who are privy to knowledge of the candidates’ working habits and dedication, but it is far from ideal. The process magnifies the margin of victory or defeat and rewards candidates who can make successful coalitions within the council. However, it does not necessarily determine the best leader for the High School.

The impact of introducing a popular vote to the electoral system will provide more transparency to the inner workings of StuCo. Representatives would be more inclined to share their successes and shortcomings with the students, and the direct relationship between the entire student body and representatives would no longer terminate after grade level representative elections. Candidates would no longer be just a face, but rather, we hope, a set of ideas and policies.

While this editorial board acknowledges the basis for an internal electoral process and values the fact that the candidates should come from within StuCo, we merely want to broaden the electorate. At the moment, there is a dichotomy in what representatives know and what the students know. Much of what the representatives do occurs within the inner workings of StuCo. Thus, in order to ensure the student body has an equally holistic view of potential candidates, The Standard urges StuCo to consider endorsing presidential debates, where the entire  high school would have the opportunity to pose questions to the candidates.

These presidential debates would unveil the goals of each candidate in the clearest possible manner, giving the entire high school a chance to raise relevant questions for each of the candidates.

Although officially termed a “debate”, the purpose of this electoral tool would not be for the candidates to argue with one another. Rather, debates would be an opportunity to provide more transparency for each candidate, doing away with scripted and empty speeches, and forcing real, tangible issues to be discussed by each candidate.

This new process will foster a greater sense of responsibility and zeal between the representatives and the rest of the  high school. Representatives will be inspired to use their leadership skills to communicate with the students in ways that are otherwise not happening. The result: A greater foundation of integrity for the council.

As it currently stands, both the follies and victories of the candidates are privy only to the inner circle of council members. A general election holds each candidate more accountable for their goals and what they hope to accomplish.

This new structure is a two way street. In giving responsibility to the students to elect their president, students would be more responsible for voicing their desired changes in the High School. Further student involvement would facilitate unity behind StuCo, turning it into an even stronger channel of student voice.

Elected by the people, the presidential position is legitimized – a leader of 486 students, not just 20 individuals. The best way to do that is by turning over the decision to a popular vote.

We believe, perhaps idealistically, that every student would like to make their high school a better place. Fueled by this desire to improve, we feel that the student body will be fully aware of the importance of the decision they’re making. We trust the students to make the best possible decision in filling a position that represents their collective voice, just as we trust in StuCo to see the merit in our request.