The Online Student Newspaper of Bethel High School, Hampton, VA 23666

Bear Facts News

The Online Student Newspaper of Bethel High School, Hampton, VA 23666

Bear Facts News

The Online Student Newspaper of Bethel High School, Hampton, VA 23666

Bear Facts News

It’s time to rethink the Student Council election process

H. Redfearn
Image of student campaign poster.

When SCA elections occurred in the beginning of October, few students seemed to know voting was taking place, much less who was running for office. What went wrong?

At first glance, the election data suggests decent student engagement with the polling process for the SCA elections. Only 4% of freshmen participated, but 76% of sophomores, 94% of juniors, and 65% of seniors voted during the designated days.

Infographic created via Canva. (M. Baranyai)

However, this data is misleading. This year, students voted for candidates for SCA at the same time as they voted for the homecoming court. On the voting forms, a significant number of students indicated they were undecided on the questions pertaining to SCA candidates. 

Our investigation uncovered that most students voted because they wanted to weigh in on the homecoming court, not because they knew much about the SCA candidates. 

“I only knew who I voted for president because I had class with him,” Tyler Chitwood, a senior, reported. “I did not know anything about the [other] candidates in advance.”

Other students made similar observations. When asked about the SCA elections, most just mentioned voting for the homecoming court.

 “I only voted for the people I knew for homecoming,” Gioni Pittman, a sophomore, stated. When asked about SCA candidates, he said he “did not know any of them.” 

How did this happen? Faculty sponsors indicated that the election process this year was similar to polling in years past at first. 

“We were not given a lot of personnel, so we did what we did from previous years,” Sierra Jones, the Junior class faculty sponsor, stated. “The administration came back and helped clean up the process.”

Students had to email their faculty sponsors if they were interested in running for office. After establishing their interest, students were subject to a small background check. During these checks, administrators looked at student grades and behaviors to make sure the candidates were on track for success and good representatives for the student body. 

“I liked how they vetted the candidates because it [elections] can turn into a popularity contest,” Jones revealed. “I liked the communication especially with the juniors.”

After candidates passed the background check process, they were given time to campaign, but this is when wires seemed to get crossed. At first, each class followed its own timeline for campaigning and elections; each had different deadlines and different campaigning tactics. 

“Administration thought we were on the right track, but they helped it be more cohesive,” Jones stated. “Some of the classes were going at different paces, so they kind of wanted to, especially…[with] homecoming on top of it all, so it got a little muddy in the water. They wanted to bring it all together.”

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To streamline the SCA election process, the administration set a new time frame for the SCA elections in the last week of September. They set the date for less than a week away: October 2nd and October 3rd. By that time, the sophomore class had already completed voting, so the voting for this group had to be reopened. 

Compounding the tight time frame was the way SCA elections merged with elections for the homecoming court. Class sponsors created Google forms that allowed students to vote for both of these at the same time.

Elections provide a chance for candidates to form relationships with voters, and for voters to express their views and make sure their voices are heard. The election process this year unfortunately did not provide students with the opportunity to engage in these essential processes. 

I think it is important…to have student elections at the end of the year. Before they end the school year, they will know their student officers for next year.

— Sierra Jones, Junior class faculty sponsor

At the heart of the issue was a lack of clear directions. Class sponsors overseeing the elections received delayed or contradictory instructions, which at turn made it difficult for candidates to campaign and engage with their constituents, the students of Bethel.

“I think it is important, especially for the upperclassmen, to have student elections at the end of the year,” Jones stated. “Before they end the school year, they will know their student officers for next year.”

This may well be one possible way forward. When communication falters, problems start to arise, and student voices are muted. 

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Comments (4)

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  • S

    snoadminNov 16, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    SNO Test comment.

  • AnonymousNov 10, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    Good on you for staying dedicated to this article, looks really professional like a writer who has years worth of experience.

  • T

    TalorNov 8, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    I think this is an amazing article, It is very detailed and great for our newspaper

  • A

    ashaniNov 8, 2023 at 1:40 pm

    i think this is a very effective article for our newspaper and can help the areas we need to improve in our community