On June 3, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors submitted their ballots in homeroom, marking the end of the race for a position in the 2015–2016 student council. Kicking off the week before with posters covering the hallways and candidates handing out baked goods, various campaigns by the candidates attempted to enlist student support by all means possible.
Prior to this year, there have been no restrictions on the candidates’ self-promotion. However, this year, student council limited posters to the dimensions of 20 inches by 30 inches. “[The student council] runs the election process and was the group to set limits regarding sizes, shapes, or quantities [of the posters],” said Diana Lygas, Dean of Students.
Brian Li ’17 was the vice president for the class of 2017 this past year and ran unsuccessfully to be the president of the student body for the 2015–2016 school year. Li’s campaigning technique involved getting students’ attention around the halls. “The larger posters were definitely better for catching people’s eyes,” Li said. “The key for a good poster was getting your name out there, so you didn’t need to have so much information or so much pictures on your posters, but make sure people saw your name.”
Noah Chen ’16, who also ran unsuccessfully to be the president of the student body, also put up posters, but didn’t view it as a particularly essential component in his campaign. Chen said, “I don’t think there’s one part of my campaign that really overpowers the other ones. I think it’s how all the parts work together to make an overall picture.”
Besides posters, Chen emphasized sitting down and having conversations with students as well as tactics such as handing out candy. Likewise, Li handed out brownies and cupcakes with flags stating his name and the position he was running for.
Social media was also a tool that many candidates used to publicize their candidacy. Hamza Nishtar ’18 ran successfully to be next year’s vice president for the class of 2018 and posted multiple campaign images on Facebook. He said, “When using social media, I think the best strategy is to try to appeal to people’s humor … If you tell a good enough joke, everyone will share it around.”
There are various aspects that influence prospective voters’ choices on election day. Campaign promises are not as effective as giving out food, according to Drake Marsaly ’17, who did not run for office. “The most effective part of a campaign is bribing people with candy … or baked goods,” he said.
“Most people vote based on … who they’re friends with,” said Amanda Van Dyck ’18.
The elections this month were not the first of the year—the class of 2018 freshman elections took place in the fall of 2014. During this election, some students took offense to some campaign posters, specifically two large ones used by Sofia Manekia ’18 in her campaign to become the president of the class of 2018.
One of the posters showed supermodel Kate Upton with the caption “Hey boys,” and the other showed actor Channing Tatum with the caption “Hey girl.” “The main complaints were … [that] I wasn’t appealing towards the LGBTQ community … If I could do it again, I think I would try to reach out to as [many] people as I could … and change my posters to fit everyone,” Manekia said.
Manekia also received some complaints about the large size of her posters, which precipitated changes to poster size limits this year.
Isabelle Sohn ’16 was the president of the class of 2016 and was just elected as the vice president of the student body. “I went up against a lot of people. I think we all had a pretty decent chance of winning,” she said. “I honestly can’t pinpoint anything that necessarily [would] have made me win. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.”