Online votes, forums enhance Prefect election

The Prefecture competitions are underway in a newly renovated election process geared towards clarifying the role and duties of a Prefect.

On April 8 and 9, sophomores, juniors and faculty members were encouraged to nominate juniors to run for Head Prefect, a departure from the sole option of self-nomination of years past.

While nominees were not obliged to accept, the Prefects wanted students to feel empowered to run even if they hadn’t participated in student government before.

“There are kids who run every year because they know it’s what they want to do,” Head Prefect Tasia Smith ’08 said.  “But this is a good way for kids who are leaders in other areas or who are respected by their peers to have the chance to run.”

Julia Hahn ’09 has worked closely with Director of Student Affairs Jordan Church since the beginning of March to develop a clearer, more cohesive definition of a Prefect. 

She feels the parameters and expectations for the position have become muddled since the merger of the honor board and student government in 2005 and felt compelled to take action to rectify student misconceptions.

“The reason we want students to understand the prefect’s role is two-fold: firstly, it allows voters to better select a candidate that they feel would be good for the job; secondly, when students completely understand what the job entails, it allows them to make an educated decision about whether they should run,” Hahn said.

An all-school assembly (without seniors) on Monday gave Head Prefect candidates a chance to speak their views and to “allow us to really show that we disagree on certain issues,” candidate Kate Leibman ’09 said. 

Open debates will take place for the first time for junior and senior prefect candidates at break on April 28.

“I think these will help candidates truly get to the heart of the issues, and help the voters view the candidates beyond a superficial level,” Levin said.

Online voting debuted at the Head Prefect Elections yesterday and Monday with the goal of eliminating run-offs.  Votes were cast at http://www.bigpulse.com/11664 until 3:00 pm and computers were  available for on-campus voting. Junior Prefect Brandon Levin ’09 thinks visible “voting computers” along with the option of voting at home should amplify awareness and increase voter turnout.

Posters around Chalmers explain the necessity of perception, leadership and strong communication skills in a Prefect.

There are also lists of Prefect duties, such as maintaining school traditions, serving on the Honor Board and acting as a liaison between the faculty, student body and administration.

This year, freshmen will also no longer vote for Head, junior or senior Prefects.

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