The Bar-On Brief: A chance for class candidates to amplify their voice

Introducing The Epitaph’s Class Election Open Forum


The two-day lunchtime event will provide a chance for candidates to speak to the whole school during campaign week. Design by Desmond Kamas

The Bar-On Brief: A weekly column

Seventy-four students attended the class elections informational meeting earlier this week. That signifies that 74 students from three classes, excluding next year’s freshman class, are considering class office.

Students who commit to running will turn in a form with their signatures and teacher recommendations to the ASB office tomorrow. They will also have the option of signing up for a new tradition The Epitaph hopes to start: The Class Elections Open-Forum.

Unlike ASB candidates, students who run to represent the whole school, class candidates have no formal opportunity to address the student body. They have no chance to give a speech like ASB candidates do.

There are five contested cabinet positions, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and social manager, within each grade level. That means a minimum of 15 speeches. Clearly not possible to film and broadcast during tutorial as is the case for ASB elections.

But this year will be different because the elections open forum, a project that is two years in the making, is finally being implemented.

During campaign week next week, The Epitaph will host a group of candidates and ask them about their qualifications for the position. Candidates will have an opportunity to amplify their voice to reach a crowd of students, in addition to their individual campaigning earlier in the week. 

While the set up will be similar to the presidential debates, this won’t be quite like the Republican ones. Campaign rules will still apply, and the questions will not ask candidates to compare themselves to their opponents, but will rather remain focused on a single candidate.

Moderators will correct candidates if they make false statements or promise impossible tasks, such as adding more vacation days in the school year.

Participation in the open-forum is optional for candidates. We cannot require every candidate to sit on the stage and address the audience. But we hope candidates serious about their position will agree to speak to the student body. It only makes sense to address the students you are running to represent.

Voters will, and should, question why certain candidates choose not to participate in a chance to campaign to the whole school, and maybe they will show their concerns with their vote.

The fewer candidates who participate, the more “coverage” their opponents will receive.

The Epitaph has also been in talks with the administration about potentially housing social media profiles of candidates where they can enter a quote and some qualifications about themselves, to be viewed by students who view the website.

Since HHS has a strict rule banning social media from campaigns, this would be the perfect way to ensure each candidate is represented fairly and receives equal coverage off campus. This is still in the works, and might only be implemented next year. But the talks appear positive and are a sign of progress. 

There are several people who The Epitaph owes a great deal of thanks for allowing this project to take place. Activities Assistant Principal Brian Dong, ASB advisor Sara Frausto and the leadership class, who approved the event and helped work out the details with the editorial board.

Hopefully, the open-forum will become and remain a class elections tradition and will continue providing class candidates an opportunity to address the student body.

After all, what kind of newspaper doesn’t report about the elections?

And with that, I rest my case.


The Bar-On Brief is a weekly column that runs Thursdays.

Follow Shauli Bar-On on Twitter @shauli_baron