The reason we had an election at this time of the year was because a large number of past officers had resigned their positions for a variety of reasons. Basically, we had to have an election because we had no Student Council.
For this election there were ten available seats for a variety of positions. Most notably were the seats of both the President and the Vice-President of the Student Body. I was told that there were 3,832 students eligible to vote in this election. The last day to get your name on the ballot was January 31, 1996. All others who were interested in running for office that had not properly submitted their application to run in the election, had to run as a write-in candidate. Most of the individuals that ran for their positions hoped to win their seat on the council with their fellow students write-in vote.
The student body has traditionally shown very little interest in the voting process. In the last election only 120 people showed up to vote. By that standard this election was a huge success. Approximately 175 voters voted this time. This is an increase of about 50%. But when looked at more objectively, the number of voters represented approximately 2% of the total number of students.
I took an exit pole of voters as they left the voting area and asked for their impressions of the whole process. The replies were both insightful and very similar. Almost all of the students who did vote told me that they did so because they felt that they needed to show support for those who were taking time to be on the council. But, they also felt that they were not given a proper arena to hear about any of the candidates platforms. Without the ability to question the candidates, most felt that it became just a personality contest. Another very common complaint was that not one candidate was opposed in their try for office. Every candidate ran unopposed. I often heard the comment, "why vote"?
Many people who did not vote told me that it was because they felt that most past Student Councils have accomplished little. But as Richard Puckett, our new CalSac Representative said to me, "rituals confer legitimacy." Without the voting process you no longer have a democracy. The new council will have to change the general feeling that the students of the college have towards it as well as the whole student representation process.
All of this notwithstanding, I have talked to a number of our new council members and I feel that in the group, we have some promising student advocates and leaders.
I was immediately impressed by one individual who explained his goals in a simple manner. Anthony Browning, the new Secretary, stated in his letter of intent that he would take accurate minutes and have them quickly available to all who wish to see them. What else might one ask of a secretary? I have talked to Anthony and feel that he will turn his campaign promise into action.
Another person who can and needs to produce is the new Vice President, Sarah Shelley. Her task might be the hardest one on the whole council. It is her duty to both act as President if he is not available and she will also be the Chairperson of the ICC, The Inter Club Council. It is the ICC that oversees all of the clubs on campus. Technically, as of this moment , the ICC does not even exist. Part of Sarah's job will be to both reorganize and motivate a group of clubs that are for the greatest part in shambles.
The person who might be fun to watch is Richard Puckett. Richard, is our new CalSac Representative, and will represent Mendocino College on a statewide level as all the community colleges meet to discuss their individual needs, goals and their common problems. I have spent the most time discussing the future of the Student Council with Richard. He has lots of experience in administrative and committee work and has spent a lot of years in the political arena. He should have a great deal of experience with both movin' and shakin'. How will his experience off campus blend in with on campus politics? That is the question we await the answer to.
Although our last student council did little to lessen the negitiv view of politicians, they are no longer the people who represent us. The time to move ahead is NOW. We now have new people, new ideas and new energy. Will our new representative make our school a better place to get an education? Will they help enrich our lives? Will they fulfil their campaign promises? Only by experiencing the results of their efforts will we know. While we await those results we MUST be positive, supportive and hopeful. We need to start anew by giving our new council there due chance,
Congratulation and good luck from your fellow students and The Eagle .
Copyright Mendocino College Eagle 1995 Permission granted to use articles if source is cited