The Student-Faculty Disciplinary Board (SFDB) is one of the most valuable student-led organizations in the school. As an Editorial Board, we believe the perspective that the SFDB offers in disciplinary matters is indispensable and therefore a crucial part of the community.
However, integrity, one of the most important characteristics of an SFDB member, is currently lacking in its election process. The measure of an individual’s integrity should be the single most significant factor in the election process for the SFDB. Yet, this year, the only factor that went into the voting process was the names of the candidates.
On October 21, students were sent an email containing the link to an online ballot for SFBD elections. The directions included the following statement: “Please take a few seconds to vote for who you think would best represent your class on the Student-Faculty Disciplinary Board this year” leaving us with the question: Should it really only take a few seconds for students to make an informed decision based upon the moral strength and principles of an individual? A few seconds is not sufficient to select representatives with the power to influence decisions that will have long-lasting implications on those who go before the board.
Not to mention, the electoral window was open for less than six hours, which minimized the voice of students resulting in a 88 percent voting turnout average across the High School.
The ballot consisted solely of the candidates’ names, no description of their experience on the board nor what qualities we should be looking for in a candidate to represent us. How can we, as a student body, possibly feel compelled to vote for individuals who have the power to judge the gravity of our academic breaches and magnitude of our consequences when we have such limited information about them?
One of the pillars of the SFDB is to promote a community of trust. This Editorial Board would argue that not disclosing more information about the candidates is distrusting.
The shortcomings of this ballot system encourage students casting their votes to gravitate toward their friends.
The process is also exclusive to new students in two ways. New students who are candidates have no way to convey their qualifications to the electorate, coming at an almost unrecoverable disadvantage in such a vote. Additionally, new voters have little context for what the SFDB is, or what principles they should judge the candidates on.
All aspects of the election process should be both fair and extensive considering that the SFDB representatives hold substantial power within the school.
The decision to eliminate the essay portion of the application trivialized the process. The SFDB application must be comprehensive enough so those applying are prepared for the responsibility.
In order to instill integrity in the SFDB election process, we need a full biography of the candidates in the form of a paragraph of written information from each. In addition, a clear written explanation of what the selection should be based on should be included on the ballot. We would urge the inclusion of a description of the job position on the email or Google form and a list of qualities that we should look for in our representative, such as “integrity” or the “courage to act.”
While we acknowledge extensive campaigning would result in a popularity contest, there must be some balance between voting based on no information, and voting based on a candidate’s social reputation.
Not only were candidate profiles non-existent, but also the process for candidates to reach the ballot stage of the application process was ambiguous. The student body has a right to know what factors went into narrowing down the candidates from each grade level to the number that appeared on the ballot.
The SFBD written application included questions based around “core values” and disciplinary problems. These are factors that are apt judgments of candidates’ qualifications to be a representative. However, the student body did not have access to candidates’ responses to these questions, and these factors were not even mentioned during the student-voting process.
In order to legitimize the voting process of SFDB, the appropriate qualifications of candidates need to be publicized along with parts of candidate’s application, establishing credibility to one of the most important student organizations in the school.