Platforms: For Looks or For Real?

The search for Andover’s next Student Body President is well under way. The race has been narrowed down to twelve candidates, (who were profiled in last week’s Phillipian), and Uncommons is presently plastered with both campaign signs and colorful life-size posters. For student voters, an important factor in choosing candidates is their platforms. No candidate knows everyone in the school, and the platforms are the only way for everyone to see which candidate is the best. However, while most of the platforms more than adequately represent the student body, no candidates have fully discussed how they will implement these platforms. This is probably not their fault, but the election process needs to be changed so that candidates are required to explain more detailed plans for execution of their ideas. The candidate who has the best plans to carry out his or her great platforms is most fit to be elected, not the one with the best ideas. I would first like to commend the candidates on their generally outstanding platform, covering wide ranges of possible improvements and solutions to inconveniences of every day life at Phillips Academy. Ryler Roller and Underwood updates, online selection for grades and overnight forms, later Friday night sign-in, and a reevaluation of the current bandwidth policy were among the most common ideas. I was particularly glad to see that increased student-student council and student-faculty communication were two of the most highlighted proposals. On these two issues, candidates did discuss their plans. Some proposed a Student Council weekly newsletter or a free-flowing Student Council forum to improve Student Council accessibility. One candidate proposed more frequent student-faculty dinners. These are all viable solutions. Unfortunately, in many other important issues almost all of the candidates did not sufficiently discuss how they would implement their ideas. These twelve are not to be blamed, for they were neither told nor expected to write about their specific plans to put into their platforms. According to candidate Ishan Kapoor ’09, it is has long been understood that, when writing platforms, candidates only make a list of their most important goals for next year. The definition of a platform, after all, is simply “the definition of a policy of a group.” Anyone, however, can make a list of ideas that favor the students. Few people, on the other hand, can carry out these ideas effectively. Beyond personality and humor, this ability should be apparent in our next President, yet no candidate has been able to demonstrate whether or not they have this aptitude. Many candidates, for instance, vowed to try to give us later Friday night sign-in if elected. How do they plan to convince the administration to change the current policy? I like to think that 10:00 sign-in is not simply arbitrary and that the Adminstration put thought into the choosing of this particular hour. Their reasons were most probably solid. It will be a difficult challenge to get this time changed, and I am curious to see if anyone can think of a realistic way to get the administration on our side of this issue. I am not asking for a detailed step-by-step plan; this isn’t, after all, a national election. I am only asking for a few sentences or a paragraph on how they will make this platform a reality, not an overly idealistic appeal to voters. Hopefully for the next election, the system will be changed so that these expectations can be met. Instead of just having the candidates simply write platforms, they would be asked by the current President to take them to the next level, explaning how these platforms would be put into effect. Having the candidates do this would separate the dedicated from the lazy and the realistic platforms from idealistic. In the government, for instance, if a Senator does not meet most of his or her promises in a term, he is simply not reelected. Andover doesn’t have reelections as a way to motivate and to oversee the candidate and it shouldn’t, but if our next President is not fit for the job or simply gets lazy, we all become misrepresented. Higher expectations for the explanation of platforms and perhaps even the scheduling of earlier preliminary round speeches will further ensure that the next President is the right one. It should no longer be acceptable to have just imaginative ideas, and our next President will hopefully convey the importance of platform explanation. to the next group of candidates. This election so far, however, has been a great one. A new Lower, I am actually quite impressed by such the emphasis placed on the election. Qualified candidates are plentiful, and the voter turnout was very high. It is hopeful and probable that the best President for all of us is still in the remaining twelve; however, I am skeptical that it will remain so without more proof on who, in fact, is the best for us.