Question: If you were asked to describe the RC Election Process in one word what would that word be?
Answer: Superficial, Rushed, Impersonal, Prescribed, Mysterious, Rigid, Stringent, Long, Democratic, Unbiased, Organized, Disorganized and Brief Impression Based (okay, so it took one RC three words to capture his feelings).
Yikes! These were just a few responses from the RC class about their take on the recent section elections. The overall impression of RCs was that elections were a tug of war between the very relevant need for the Student Association to fill leadership roles within the sections and the need for students to get to know their sectionmates a little better before voting them into key roles that enhance the section experience.
The election process itself was actually very methodical and in ways almost seemed to be pulled straight from the pages of a TOM case: Students were given descriptions of the various positions from old section members. Interested students were then told to sign their lives away on a sheet in the back of the class and solidify the deal with a position paper.
Next came the most difficult task of all: explain to 89 sectionmates, whom you just met three weeks ago, why they should vote you to lead, represent (and possibly humiliate!) their section for the duration of the year. The speeches were organized by ECs who successfully gamed the system last year and earned themselves a leadership position. For those students who weren’t nervous about speeches going into the process, being hurriedly ushered out of the classroom only to wait in an Aldrich hallway so you couldn’t hear speeches given by your running mates definitely put their composure to the test.
The good part about spending your lunch hour listening to speeches is that you were provided free lunch. (Although in one section, someone dropped the ball and lunch wasn’t ordered. RCs frantically ran to Spangler to grab a bite only to get back to class where Presidential speeches had already started!)
Some students breathed a sigh of relief as they ran unopposed. Although, in the true essence of HBS Democracy section mates had the option of not voting for someone even if they were the only candidate running for the position. Imagine the humiliation!
And then there were those positions that people almost always have to be coaxed into. For instance, Technical Representative and Career Representative had 4 open slots each at the close of speeches, and Orientation Representative had a whopping 7 open slots across sections.
When asked what the most influential aspect of candidacy selection was, there seemed to be some consistency among RCs. The actual position papers and speeches were less important than opinions formed inside the classroom. RCs were very much aware of how section mates treated each other prior to elections in regards to respect, friendliness and just an overall feeling of genuineness. RCs wanted to vote individuals into key positions who they felt would put forth the necessary work to get the job done. Many times a sectionmate’s willingness to comment in class and add value to the section experience came into play.
Although a bit annoyed with the timeline for elections, many RCs seemed to sympathize with the administration and recognize that there is a need to fill many of the positions sooner than later.
Now that the cheerleaders (yes one section even received a very enthusiastic cheer from an Admissions Representative candidate) and politicians have completed the RC elections, I can only say congratulations to the winners and pray that they live up to all that they promised.
And sections: make sure to keep a copy of all those position papers. Remember, these are the contracts in which the candidates signed their lives away to each of you! Good luck to all.