The main goal of college is to turn immature adolescents into competent adults. Within that framework, each student grows on two distinct tracks.
On one level, college teaches students on a substantive level (learning in class, writing papers and studying on your own).
When a Dutchman or Dutchwoman receives their diploma they are equipped with the knowledge to tackle and succeed in the real world. On the other hand, college offers innumerable experiences for students to develop socially and become independent.
For instance, playing a sport is an opportunity where students grow socially and develop responsibility. Student body positions require the ability to communicate effectively with others and synthesize challenging information.
Successful elected student officials must demonstrate a balance between strong academics and social maturity. These positions are reserved for students that have demonstrated a transition into adulthood.
The selection process is based on popularity. How are we evaluating the different candidates? Voters select a candidate that they know personally or have previously interacted with. Union’s most prestigious positions are granted to students with a social advantage.
We are not focusing on their skills that make an effective representative. Unfortunately, these campaigns are not based on how well one can articulate his/her ideas and opinions. Next year it would be great to have a debate on controversial issues that students care about.
One might counter this example, “Oh, Union students are apathetic and they will not show up.” My response would be to try it out for one spot next year. Let the students ask the questions to the candidates.
It has potential to radically reform the way we select our elected officials and affect the future of Union College. Also, it makes sense to have a selection process that rewards intellectual aptitude.
Not only will this system hold candidates responsible for having some substantive knowledge, but encourage the student body to vote for the candidate they think is best qualified.
This system will provide an opportunity for students to meet all the candidates in person, not on five thousand different posters. The current system of selecting our officers rewards popularity.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from these past two years, it is not about what you have to say that matters. The school is training us to value social skills over academic scope.
When in reality, life is a healthy balance of the two. The lesson learned is if you know the right people, it does not matter how smart you are.