Student Council elections return to Haven

Student vote is a variation of a ranked-choice voting system.

Gabriel Ball, Contributor

The fast-moving world of politics has arrived again at Strath Haven. As the Pennsylvania senate and gubernatorial races kicked into high gear, so did the Student Council Elections in Strath Haven High School. In the period from mid-May until June, students were given the opportunity to run for positions on the student council including president, vice president, officer, and school board representative. The election process is a multi-stage system including interviews with senior officers, a teacher rating system, and a popular vote conducted by the student body.

To get a deeper understanding of the process, The Panther Press spoke to senior Sawyer Bock, the current Student Council President. 

Part of signing up for this job is to represent the student body.”

— Sawyer Bock '22

Bock explains that during these elections, students launch their candidacies by filling out an application form and writing a page-long student biography about themselves. The biographies are subsequently posted on Instagram by the student council, along with the biographies of the other candidates. These biographies will be available for viewing by any students who wish to research the candidates. 

After individuals apply for candidacy, they meet with senior student officers and the current faculty advisers, Ms. Esposito and Ms. Szeliga. This meeting allows these advisers to develop an idea about each candidate’s character and level of responsibility. The legislative responsibilities of the Student Council President include being in charge of helping to plan school-wide events like dances, communicating with the student body, meeting with administrators, and organizing fundraisers. Given the significant amount of responsibility, the advisers want to ensure that candidates would be committed to the position before they are allowed to run. Candidates who seem to be serious about accepting the responsibilities of a student council officer may then start campaigning. Bock explains that advertising is a key aspect of running for office.

“I had little to no experience on social media so my strategy was to make some small social media posts to raise awareness about my campaign,” Bock said. “I then created the slogan ‘Bock Rocks’ to expand my candidacy.” 

Candidates are permitted to use appropriate banners, posters, and flyers to promote their candidacy. Campaign promotion is allowed on school grounds, however there are limits to the location and frequency of these forms of advertising. For example, candidates may not place campaign material on any artwork or murals. 

After this period campaigning concludes, the student vote occurs. The vote is a variation of a ranked-choice voting system. On the google form which serves as the ballot, all of the candidates are listed. Freshmen, sophomore, and junior voters select four individuals who they approve of for the position of officer. Unlike a ranked choice voting system, each individual selected receives one vote. The student popular vote counts for one-third of the eventual decision. 

Around the time of the student vote, the teachers also provide input on the candidates and who they think is a good fit for the job. Taking into account the student vote and teacher input, the senior student council officers and advisors will then finalize the results of the election. 

After this process concluded and all of the votes and scores were counted, the resulting elected student council officers were announced on June 6. Next year’s president will be Aashna Pandey, with Ella Grossman and Tyler Debusschere as vice presidents. The newly elected group has 16 officers including the president, vice presidents, and the school board representative, Supraja Sudarsan. Although many candidates could not be offered a position, those who want to participate in student council planning and have their voices heard may still join the student council general assembly as a representative next year. 

Bock emphasizes that the elected candidates’ most important job is to work for the students. 

“Part of signing up for this job is to represent the student body,” he said. 

Though it was conducted in a school setting, the election represents the spirit of democracy and representation which serves as the guiding principle of the American form of government. In this election, students’ votes were their voices.