Prefect Council members chosen in runoff elections amid campaign controversy

Prefect Council members chosen in runoff elections amid campaign controversy

Cleo Maloney ’21 rehearses her campaign speech on Zoom before the Head Prefect Election on May 5. Printed with permission of Cleo Maloney

After electing Cleo Maloney ’21 and Jonathan Cosgrove ’21 as Head Prefects on May 7, students chose their Junior and Senior Prefects following several runoff elections.

Prefect Council members elected for 2020-21 school year

Next year, Quincey Dern ’22, Jade Stanford ’22, Micah Gold ’22 and Jason Thompson ’22 will serve as Junior Prefects, while Chelsea Cho ’21, Brooke Stanford ’21, Thomas Schramm ’21 and Navid Ghodsi ’21 will serve as Senior Prefects.

During Head Prefect elections, Maloney and Cho ran against each other for the remaining position after Cosgrove was elected in the first round.

“I’d be wrong if I said I wasn’t nervous when I found out about the runoff,” Maloney said. “It was especially hard having to do it against [Cho] because she is an awesome leader and has been one of my major role models on Prefect Council.”

Senior Prefects chosen following three runoff elections

Following Maloney’s designation as Head Prefect, the Class of 2021 voted in the Senior Prefect election May 19, in which no candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes. Cho and Brooke Stanford were elected after an initial runoff election, and Schramm was chosen following a second round. Ghodsi was named a prefect May 22, after a final election.

Cho said she plans to focus on creating long-lasting changes and adopting a new mindset in the midst of the new schedule.

“My main goal is to fix the new schedule,” Cho said. “For now, I definitely want to push for renovating the lounge [and] cafeteria over winter break to make sure there’s room for people to get food, and I want to push for student life initiatives, like establishing new senior traditions. I think flexibility and adaptive thinking is going to be super important for Prefect Council next year since so many curveballs [and] unforeseen mishaps will happen with the schedule that we have to fix.”

Like Cho, Jade Stanford emphasized her gratitude to her peers, as well as her commitment to ensuring a smooth transition into the new schedule next year.

“Finding out I won made me feel super grateful to the student body because Prefect Council is something I pour a lot of my effort into, and it’s such an honor to get the chance to continue representing my grade,”Jade Stanford said. “As a prefect, I would like to make this new, chaotic year as smooth and enjoyable as possible with all the crazy interferences like the new schedule.”

Upper school students, candidates receive warnings not to campaign

Additionally, throughout the election process, current Head Prefects Grace Burton ’20 and Michael Lehrhoff ’20 issued several warnings to prevent upper school students from publicly promoting candidates.

Burton said the anti-campaigning reminders came after students endorsed certain candidates on social media.

“For some reason, this year we had active social media campaigning by friends [and] supporters of the candidates right away,” Burton said. “We didn’t want the election to be about how active your friends can be on your behalf online. We wanted to stay far away from the criticism of typical high school student government elections, which is that it is merely a popularity contest. The student body has done a good job of voting for substance in the past, and we wanted to preserve that legacy in this election as well. I think our emails and reminders helped to curb this behavior so that it had a negligible impact on election results.”

Overall, Maloney said she will use her platform as Head Prefect to focus on reducing student stress and improving her peers’ day-to-day experiences.

“I think Harvard-Westlake can feel like a transactional experience a lot of the time, [as] students go there with the intent of getting into a good school in exchange for a challenging education,” Maloney said. “I feel like often in that pursuit, we lose a sense of community and support of one another, but the reality is we can accomplish so much more by uplifting our fellow classmates.”

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