This Monday, when the primary round of the elections narrows the pool of Co-Presidential candidates to just six pairs, the Andover student body will take the first step in determining the fate of its student government for the coming year.
Unfortunately, our elected student leaders are too often made the subject of our criticisms, generalizations, and even personal attacks. In reality, a substantial portion of the problems within our community results, not from the shortcomings of specific individuals, but rather from a general lack of accountability on the part of our student body. In order to elect capable and effective student officials, voters must evaluate Co-Presidential candidates not only as individual Andover students, but also as direct representations of our values, judgments and collective identity.
Too often, students regard elections as an explicit transferal of executive power from one governing body to the next. When students isolate themselves from the process of choosing the successors, they often fail to realize that the power of a democratic system invariably lies with its voters. When they refuse to speak, or vote, any attempts by elected representatives to cultivate positive change will inevitably end in dissatisfaction.
Similarly, student input must not stop after the election. Although Co-Presidents are granted an enhanced ability to communicate effectively with the administration, their power to adequately address community issues becomes seriously limited when students are unresponsive or apathetic. In endorsing a co-presidential pair now, one assumes the responsibility to participate in the process of student government through continued feedback and communication for the elects’ tenure.
Ultimately, the Andover Co-Presidents shoulder the responsibility of interacting not only as students or friends, but also as official representatives for the student body. The judgmental practice of endorsing or discriminating against certain candidates on the explicit basis of their appearance, reputation or social affiliation must therefore give way to a pragmatic analysis of his or her capacity to initiate positive change at our school. When an individual is tasked with representing the student body as a Co-President, our opinions on his or her characteristics as a classmate and peer should only influence our decisions if our feelings directly pertain to his or her leadership capability.
The 236 year history that forms the precedent for Andover’s modern community does not exempt us from the fact that, in an era of worldwide social and technological development, our institution has a responsibility to be a model of positive communal growth. As Andover students, we are fortunate to have a democratic co-presidential system that, in addition to providing us with many opportunities for communal development, also allows each election to serve as an affirmation and encapsulation of the qualities that we value.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVII.