Student Council Elections Bring Presidential Race into Sharp Relief


Rissy Dalton

Eighth grader Ryan O’Neill makes his case for the office of student council secretary during his speech to the Middle School on August 31, 2015.

Think of all the exciting presidential elections that have occurred throughout American history: Kennedy vs. Nixon, Carter vs. Ford, Bush vs. Gore. All were extremely close races. When two candidates run against each other, it’s exciting – there’s a lot of tension and the American people have the liberty to choose which leader they feel would best for the country. Sure, there’s a winner and a loser, but both candidates have a chance. But what if someone decided to run for president and went unchallenged? Has that ever happened?

Well, it’s happened this year at The Benjamin Middle School. Of the four offices up for election, three of them are unopposed. Nicholas Lama (president), Ryan O’Neil (treasurer), and Hudson Hale (secretary) are running unopposed in this year’s student council elections. The only race is between eighth graders Mitch Faloona and Louisa Weed who are vying for the vice presidency. But why is this happening? Are students afraid to run? Are they reluctant to handle the responsibility? Or is it that when nominations are due at the end of the previous school year, students are too tired to think about running for office and too focused on the summer that lies ahead?

“It’s a big commitment to run for Student Council,” admits Student Council Advisor Mrs. Loretta Corey. “The kids who are running are committed and ready to take on the extra work because it’s a lot of extra work.”

Corey also pointed out that nominees need to be in by the end of the previous year so that Student Council can get up and running right at the start of the new school year. “If I were to ask the student council at the beginning [of the school year], the election would be at the end of September. This year the election is the thirty-first of August. I would lose three weeks. I want to get this thing started ASAP!”

In order to run for office, students must have been in Student Council for at least one year (which means sixth graders can’t run) and possess a clean disciplinary and academic record. As Corey pointed out, holding an office is a huge commitment, but it has been the same commitment in past years, so why are there so many unopposed candidates this year?

“I can’t really imagine why,” said English Department Chair Mrs. Kathleen Devine. “It amazes me that more kids are not into student government. If I was a kid I would definitely run. I think maybe kids are committed to something else.”

For students, the responsibility of the office coupled with the prospect of making a speech in front of the entire Middle School may be a little scary.

“I don’t want to run because I don’t want to take on the responsibility,” admitted eighth-grade student council member Alexander Goldberg. “I’m a shy person and I don’t want to talk in front of the whole Middle School.”

Nevertheless, there are upsides to running for student council office.

“I think it would be fun to be class president,” said Lama. “My brother was class president and it’s really cool.”

Mrs. Clinton hopes to be the 2016 Democratic Party nominee.
Image courtesy of the United States Department of State – Official Photo at Department of State page
Mrs. Clinton hopes to be the 2016 Democratic Party nominee.

Perhaps next year there will be more candidates to make the elections here in the Middle School a bit more exciting. Despite the fact that there’s only one race this year, the TBS election is a great reminder of the actual presidential election that’s taking shape in the U.S.

The national election, even as it is early on, has the candidates in heated debates across the country. The Republican Party, with its 17 nominees, is trying its hardest to expose its opponent’s flaws. On the other hand, the Democratic Party has five major candidates up for office, and with fewer people running, the Democrats are trying their very best to knock each other out of the race. Current Secretary of State and former First Lady Mrs. Hillary Clinton seems to be leading the charge, but many are wondering if current vice president Mr. Joe Biden will throw his hat into the ring.

According to several national polls, right now it seems that billionaire businessman Mr. Donald

Mr. Trump has been making giant splashes in the media since electing to run for president.
Image courtesy of
Mr. Trump has been making giant splashes in the media since electing to run for president.

Trump seems most likely to win the Republican nomination for president. However, he faces stiff competition from several other party candidates, including a couple from our very own Sunshine State: former Florida governor Jeb Bush and current Florida senator Marco Rubio.

There’s still a long way to go until November of 2016, but it will be exciting to see how the political landscape shifts as the race for the next American president takes shape. In the meantime, Benjamin is giving its students a taste of democracy via its own student council elections. And even though many of the candidates are running unopposed, perhaps the national election will motivate more TBS students to run for student council office next year and inspire them to pursue politics in their future.