Support Kweller Prep, sponsor of The Classic:
MANY OF this year’s SU candidates found themselves campaigning for their spots without anyone standing in their way. Junior Lianna Rada, sophomore Marina Aweeda, sophomore Agastya Vaidya, sophomore Caitlin Cassidy, junior Angelina Liu, and sophomore Raya Kazdan ran unchallenged for the positions of Senior Class President, Junior Class President, Junior BSAC, Junior SLT, Public Relations, and Treasurer, respectively.
Despite being unopposed, these candidates had to campaign and make speeches like the other candidates. Most of their campaigning simply involved reaching out, relying on their words over large posters and numerous Facebook posts to introduce and promote themselves to other students.
“I had to still prove myself worthy of the position and get my ideas out there, so the people [would] know … what I’m going to do for them,” Marina said.
The lack of competition proved to be a double-edged sword. While assured of the position, essentially limiting the stress factor of campaigning, these candidates found that they had less opportunity to receive recognition. During the SU debate, unopposed candidates had to shorten their prepared speeches due to the time constraints of the event. “It was a little upsetting because I put a lot of time and effort into writing my campaign speech only to give a fraction of it,” Angelina expressed.
“[Running unopposed] did save me a lot of stress that I probably couldn’t afford any more of this year,” she added, although she did feel guilty for not giving the voters a choice in the election.
This was an issue among most of these candidates. “I would feel more validated as a candidate the students voted for,” Lianna confessed. “But I am lucky to have run for such an important position unopposed.”
The phenomenon of unchallenged candidates for the SU Board isn’t exactly unfamiliar. However, the trend of a lack of participants in elections points to some concerns about the SU elections.
Some students said that they were unaware of the numerous positions avail – able to them, their roles, and how they are able to pursue leadership responsibilities in THHS.
Prospective candidates for positions deficient in competition may not be the most experienced, but are voted in simply because there is no other alternative. “We have been discussing ways to increase the appeal and visibility of the Student Union Executive Board and its efectiveness in getting the students’ voices heard,” current SU President senior Karen Su commented. “I hope that more students will take these elections and these positions more seriously so that they have a way to make a positive change.” Coordinator of Student Activities Sarah Oberlander said, “We need to promote the positions more and get more people to run. We need experience, but there are no other options.We need someone who’s done a lot, knows about the SU, and knows how to communicate with the student body.”
“I think [the amount of unopposed candidates] reflects a lack of interest among the student body to participate in school politics,” junior Howard Tai said. “However, I also feel that the students’ academic workload and their commitment to other activities/projects also contribute heavily to the lacking candidate pool in elections.”
Some students felt that one way to increase participation in SU races was to explain the roles offered more clearly, suggesting more emails that stated all the positions. “I think if it was clear what each candidate can do and is responsible for there would be more incentive because there would be a clear method on changing things and having a voice,” junior Jensine Raihan remarked.
Although students recognized the need for more education about elections, junior Delphine Zheng believes that for more competitive elections, a large responsibility is placed on students to have more enthusiasm for afecting change.
“I don’t believe running for a position needs more promotion because if you truly wanted to affect change in the school, deciding to run for a position reflects your enthusiasm to make those goals become reality,” Delphine said.