Imagine this: your phone buzzes with an email notification from the Dean of Students, email heading: First Round Co-Presidents. Led by a “VOTE HERE” hyperlink, a list of Uppers pops up on your screen. Familiar names are dragged up, followed by ones heard in passing, and others are dragged to the bottom, submitting a vote only slightly better than random.
Within our more intimate, high-school setting, the hypothetical scenario described above is likely to have just happened. Many voters are influenced by their personal relationships with candidates, and, by extension, overlook the actual important qualities needed in a co-president. While its effects do not necessitate cutting personal relationships out of the process of voting for a candidate, personal relationships should only be one of many considerations made in order to be a responsible voter.
With some voters participating in this kind of favoritism, many of the other necessary qualities needed for successful Co-Presidents are neglected. While it is true that Co-Presidents differ in personality, leadership style, and objective during their term, the ability to represent the student body remains as the core purpose of the post. Sui Yu ’23, one of the current Co-Presidents, described their role as a liaison between the administration and students, noting the importance of the job.
“One of the main responsibilities of a Co-President is going to be building that connection [between the] student body [and administration]. When you have one-on-one meetings with Dr. Kingston, Dr. Esty, and the entire Dean’s team, they’re really looking to you to advise and counsel: ‘This is how the student body is feeling right now. This is what the student body needs. And this is how we can move forward, this is how we can address this specific issue,’” said Yu.
Between limited time in the position and challenges during the process of realizing plans, the station of a Co-President can be an extremely taxing one, requiring passion and commitment to execute ambitious campaign promises. Ultimately, when it comes to voting, one should not be relying on what policy changes or what ideas––no matter how flashy or lofty–– candidates bring to the table. Instead, it should be a conversation centering around the two following questions: “How do I want to be represented” and “Who should I pick to represent me?”
Rather than dictating your vote simply based upon the ‘word on the street’ or a brief skim of candidate platforms, students across campus should, instead, take greater amounts of time into their consideration. As voters, students should realize the significance of their vote, knowing that a Co-President election goes beyond the perceived “popularity contest” that seemingly obscures the real importance of voting. When students receive the email from the Dean of Students to vote on the final four, consider what you want in addition to who the candidates are. A voter that votes for the best Co-President instead of their best friend is also voting for themselves and their own best interests.