On Wednesday at All-School Meeting, the co-presidential candidates participated in a forum in front of the student body. In their last opportunity to convince the students of their eligibility, the pairs each delivered opening and closing statements and answered two directed questions: one from the opposing pair and one from current Co-Presidents.
The goal of the forum was to provide the student body with a concrete basis on which to vote, veering away from traditional speeches, which encourage popularity and humor to be the deciding factors in the election.
While the forum was certainly useful, students were left to cast their votes with little opportunity to directly engage in open and unrestricted conversation with the candidates, a problem that must be addressed.
The forum was just one example of the regrettable lack of a two-way dialogue between Student Council and the student body during the month-long campaign. In the debate hosted by Student Council on Wednesday, February 26 between the final six pairs, questions from the audience were rushed and sparse, and many hands were left raised in the air.
In electing our representatives, the opportunity to question candidates is essential. Prior to voting, observation was the extent of student involvement in this year’s election.
Dan Wang ’14 and Alex Tamkin ’14 recognized the need to provide students with answers. On Thursday, February 27, they created a Facebook page for candidates to have an open discussion with students in a less structured and formal way than the official election events. Within 30 minutes of the page’s launch, multiple incisive, lengthy questions had been posed by various students, according to Wang. As the page was spontaneous and the candidates were not yet ready to take on the additional burden, the page was deleted later that night.
We propose that in the future, Student Council can work to create a spot for interaction between students and their co-presidential candidates that is visible to all. For instance, an open online forum would allow candidates to understand concerns of the student body, opting to either answer questions directly or to address them in public events like the debate or ASM.