Rachel Wong, Grade 10, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Every year at this time, the student body votes in a new student government for the next school year. Normally, the cafeteria would be filled with students darting from table to table, sharing their campaign ideas, and getting their petitions signed. This year, social media has become the campaign platform of choice.
Student government has many open positions: two grade representatives per grade, press secretary, treasurer, president and vice president, who campaign together, and an opportunity organizer. All students are welcome to run for any position, with the exception of the president and vice president, which are limited to upperclassmen.
The HSAS student government has a lot of important responsibilities. Every year, they plan Spring and Fall Fest, as well as Spirit Week. They also evaluate and give grants to student clubs. This year, they released seasonal newsletters, informing students of future plans. “They plan events, inform students of what is happening at school, and try to make HSAS a better environment,” said Talia Homer [’22]. “But overall, I think they could have a bigger role at HSAS.”
Although there are no exact statistics, it appears that student participation and engagement in student government elections have increased this year. Homer said that it could possibly be because “people have less going on so they have time to focus on this.”
June 8 marked the start of campaign week, which extends to June 18th. Since the start of the week, candidates have rushed to social media platforms, creating Instagram accounts to post their platforms and contacting students to survey their opinions. Many students like this virtual form of campaigning, but it does have drawbacks. “Through social media, it is much easier to get your platform to a larger audience in a short period of time,” said Laura Yam [‘22], who is running for junior grade representative. “However, by campaigning online, it is much more difficult to ensure that students have read your platform and they understand it. Also, most people are shy and won’t contact me if they have questions whereas in person it would be easier to answer questions.”
On June 16, current President Habiba Sayma and Vice President Yoelle Gulko will host a virtual Q&A with the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. “It's a good resource in order to get to know the future president and vice president of our school and ask any questions about their platform,” said Yam.
Higher office election day will be held on June 18. Students will vote for all positions except grade representatives. Lower office elections will occur on June 23.
The transition from in-person to virtual campaigning has been seamless, and it may be a more efficient way to conduct future elections. “I think it’s a good idea and the best way to go about this, given the current situation,” said Homer.
“However, some things were nice to have in-person when that was an option. For instance, the candidates would often come to talk to us during lunch, and I really enjoyed that because I felt like I really got to know each candidate.”
Currently, it is unclear when and how schools will reopen in the fall. The new student government will be sworn in during an unprecedented time and will have to navigate an unpredictable school year.