[Editorial] Give Up the Vote
by The Milton Measure on Friday, April 24th, 2015
Teachers can’t vote in head monitor elections. In theory, however, they would be the most qualified voters. They have seen the greatest number of head monitors lead the school, so they know which qualities make for a successful leader and which do not. They have witnessed the greatest number of attempts to create cohesion between classes (among other endeavors), so they know what works and what does not. But the S.G.A. isn’t in place to represent teachers, or, for that matter, anyone not a current member of the upper school student body. If we all accept this idea, why are seniors still allowed to vote in the annual elections?
This question is often posed when the S.G.A. gathers to review and amend its constitution, yet no change is made. Perhaps seniors voting in head monitor elections is simply a tradition. Perhaps taking away this right would create a sense of exclusion towards increasingly nostalgic seniors. Whatever the reason, however, we believe that seniors do not have a place in head monitor elections, and we hope that the S.G.A. (that includes you!) appropriately edits this section of its constitution to improve upon the process next year.
Just as it is for teachers, the most compelling argument for allowing seniors to vote is that they know Milton better than any other grade does. However, although seniors should be and likely are more familiar with the head monitor position than other students, they infamously do not follow their best judgement when casting ballots. The outcomes of the elections do not immediately affect seniors, so it is easy for them to adopt a feeling of indifference, even carelessness, towards the process.
It’s almost like asking a day student to vote on what boarders should eat for dinner. Firstly, that student would not put as much thought into his choice as a boarder; after all, he himself does not have to eat the meal. Secondly, although the student might think that pizza is the yummiest choice and that he would certainly most like to eat that food, he might think it entertaining to know that the boarders will have to indulge on mystery meat. These sentiments are often reflected during election season, when we hear seniors saying, “It would just be so funny if she got it” or other students saying, “Seniors are just going to vote for him because he’s hilarious” rather than because he is the best candidate.
Democracy is simple. Those elected represent the members of the community they serve — all of the community and only that community. Yet, in the democracy that is the S.G.A., a group of individuals is represented every year that doesn’t belong to the current community. For instance, the Class of 2015 will be represented this fall even though it will no longer be a part of the upper school.
So here’s the easy fix, the one we hope will be made the next time the S.G.A. meets to edit its constitution. Currently, this document states that every upper school student has “the right to cast a single vote for all Council officer elections.” (Student Handbook, pg. 61) We simply ask that this phrase be restated so that every upper school student has “the right to cast a single vote for all Council officer elections except those that occur his/her senior year.” We have no doubt that seniors can find another way to make their final mark on this community, one that is much more relevant to both them and the upper school as a whole.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=6989