Drop gender restrictions

Now, almost 20 years later, Harvard-Westlake is a unified, cohesive school that no longer needs to depend on gender balance to elect leaders that are representational of the students.

In this week’s election for Head Prefect, a female candidate is running uncontested. While we are confident in the candidate’s qualifications for office, and while it’s certainly preferable to have one boy and one girl simply because of the greater diversity this maintains, an election process where someone could automatically win a position because of his or her gender wrongs both the voters and the other candidates of the opposite sex. The voters no longer have a say in who will become one of the main representatives in their grade, and the other candidates are forced to compete among themselves for a spot that their classmate received without a race. What if one boy and 10 girls were running for a two-seated position on campus? Would it be fairer to give the boy a spot and have all 10 girls run for the other one than to have an election for both?

As is the case in all legislatures, a characteristic such as gender does not guarantee that a council member will hold the same beliefs and morals as voters of the same sex. An individual boy doesn’t necessarily represent all boys, and an individual girl doesn’t necessarily represent all girls. We also doubt that boys would only vote for other boys, or girls would only vote for other girls. While there’s some truth to the argument that having both a male and female leader represents the student body more effectively than would two boys or two girls, in a case where a student could be appointed without any votes at all, an election would provide for a much more representational system than the one we have now. Character, integrity and determination are based on much more than the gender of a person, and those qualities are the ones that should ensure the election of a leader.

Fortunately, at a school like Harvard-Westlake, all candidates running for offices are going to be competent and qualified. But that doesn’t mean one should be able to win without a race. To be fair to both the student body and the contenders, the election system should be redesigned and based solely on merit from now on. Sure, we may have two representatives of the same gender sometimes, but at least we’ll know we chose them.