Few things are certain in life: Death, taxes, the San Antonio Spurs. For Paly students, however, one more thing is certain: almost no one watches Associated Student Body (ASB) campaign speeches.
While this may seem too much of a generalization, the average amount of views per ASB speech was a shade under 194.
Out of a student body of approximately 2,000, less than 10 percent of students made the effort to inform themselves before voting. To remedy the overabundance of uneducated voters, ASB election speeches should be live.
Most students who attended Greene Middle School remember trudging to the Multi-Purpose Room sometime during the school day in order to hear Student Council candidate speeches. While some may have found the speeches borling or a waste of time, listening to live speeches was, and is, a very important part of the election process.
In live speeches, candidates must directly prove that they deserve a vote over their competition. When left to their own devices, most students just vote for the person they know best, not bothering to evaluate the other options.
Furthermore, if live speeches were implemented, voter participation would skyrocket, as students would vote immediately following speeches.
ASB speeches should be live because of a multitude of reasons, such as better communication between candidates and their constituents, a more issue-driven election and making the election less of a popularity contest.
First, communication of goals between candidates and other students is severely lacking. Some students barely know who the candidates are. Having live speeches would lead to students definitively knowing who their candidate is and why they are running. Also, ideas proposed by candidates would be clear to voters.
Furthermore, the communication allowed through live speeches will allow students to see the candidates’ demeanor. Charisma and likeability are important in a leader, and students who do not watch the YouTube speeches will likely have no idea how likeable their chosen candidate is.
Second, having candidates actually have to present to students would make ASB elections far more issue-driven. Right now, most speeches are filled with cliches and platitudes, such as, “making your voice heard in student government” and “increasing transparency.”
Something that would truly increase transparency is live speeches. In a live speech, candidates would have to offer up ideas that resonate with students in order to get elected. When faced with things that matter to them, students will pick what they want, not just who they want.
A more issue-driven election is better for the school as a whole, as ASB will be able to identify things that need fixing and its members will already have identified solutions.
Live speeches will make elections less of a popularity contest. Despite this, a lot of people will only vote for their friends. That is their choice. However, if elections become more issue-driven, students will make their decisions based on what someone says they will do, rather than on how well-known the candidate is.
As a result, students will be listening to speeches, they will be well-informed and will be able to make decisions based on issues.
There are several ways live speeches could be integrated into students’ schedule.
One solution to allow live speeches is to hold them during tutorial. Like other assemblies, students would check in with their teacher advisers and then proceed as a class to the Performing Arts Center for speeches. If one tutorial period is not enough time, the speeches could be spread out over a week.
In this case, students would only view the speeches of the candidates for the positions they are voting for. For example, freshmen would only view speeches for candidates running for sophomore positions, not for senior class presidents.
Some may say that this would take away important time from students. However, students generally have their tutorial time taken away by things like Spirit Week rallies. Shouldn’t the elections of the people who plan rallies be as important as the events themselves?
Another solution is airing candidate speeches on InFocus over the course of a week. With each speech this year being around two minutes long and with 23 candidates this year, the 46 minutes required would fit into the 50 minutes of InFocus per week.
While many of Paly’s decision-making groups have little room for student opinions or perspective, ASB is an exception. Students on ASB arguably have the most decision-making power of all students.
As ASB students represent us, we have a right to be better informed about their goals and ideas, and live speeches are the path to doing so.