I passed by Ateneo this morning and noticed lots of posters which seem to share a common (but specifics-wise different) announcement. Student organization elections are around the corner once again (also saw promos on FB). Once again, the reality of my old age bites the back of my neck.
Student politics is the first ever opportunity of young adults to experience the realities of how society works, in a smaller perspective. A lot of factors such as student population, academic workload, and so on all weigh in. Even though at first glance it’s not really comparable to actual national elections where the leaders we choose will be there in office for six years (versus just one in a school setting), org elections are no laughing matter.
So to those who will soon be casting their votes for their beloved organization, allow this old-timer org vice president and eventually council cluster head give you a few advice.
- My first advice would be to vote for people who really matter. Don’t vote just for your friends just for the sake of friendship. Vote instead for those with a good sense of responsibility, and of course burning passion to lead. If you think your friend has these qualities, then you have my go signal — go elect him and make sure he wins (by helping him with the campaign)! However if you think it is otherwise, don’t hesitate not giving him your vote. His utmost dedication is a requirement and if you think your friend yet has to learn it, then do him a favor and let him serve your org as a member first. Besides, there’s nothing to worry right, he won’t know you did not vote for him. And come on, if ever he knows and gets angry with you, the next logical thing to do would be to sever ties with him. Albus Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge call it “the parting of ways.”
- In the case that only a lone candidate vies for a certain position, voting for Abstain does not mean you don’t care for your org. This also applies for posts with many aspirants. Don’t believe that cliché propaganda of “Vote not for abstain; choose me! Abstain as you can see is not present in this miting de avance, he therefore has no plans for our beloved org and thus should not be elected.” That’s one thousand percent wrong. Voting for abstain simply means the candidates available so far are not yet ready to assume a mountain of hard work; the org may just simply need to wait a little more. Don’t worry though, whoever that is will come in time, as sure as Jesus’ Paraousia come the Apocalypse.
- Don’t just vote for someone (or Abstain) just because “most of my fellow org members will vote for him anyway.” Even if you think you’re the only person who’ll be voting for that candidate you have your high hopes with, go ahead. The results of the elections may disappoint you, but at least you still exercised your right to vote and stood up for what you believe in. In some cases however (and they are not rare), the unexpected winner emerges as the final victor, eventually. You see, you may not be alone in thinking the same thing, actually.
- Attend miting de avances and make sure you BASH your candidates with the hardest (but still sensible) questions you can brew up. I permit you to go crazy with your what-ifs and other queries — it’s actually a test of how good they are enough to handle the craziness of the dynamics of working in a wonderful student organization. At the end of the day, people who are crazy enough to think they can impact change actually get the job done.
- During the actual election period, choose that day and time when you’re going to cast your precious vote. And of course, make sure you don’t forget it, else election period closes and your vote goes to waste (even Abstain will not able to get your sweet yes)! You may choose not to do it in the first day, if you are still in the process of discernment. You can choose it last day but in the morning, it’s still fine. Whenever it is would just be fine.
- After elections, congratulate those who won and sympathize those who lost. Especially the latter. I’ve seen a lot of people take their loss heavily, some just shrug their head with a smile. Whatever the case is, these people still took up the challenge of stepping up. It may be that it’s not just their time yet (like your friend who you think is not yet fit for the post, see number 1). Go tell them that with the sweetest words.
- With the brand new of leaders now ready to assume office, do your part as a responsible member and be active in every activity. Balance your academics and org life well. Believe me, extra-curriculars MATTER. In everything you do, do it with passion. Don’t just give your best, give your “better than the best!” In the company I work in now, it’s called relentless drive for growth. In Ateneo, it’s called magis.
- And another year passes, go ahead and discern. Maybe in that whole school year you also thought of stepping up and leading a bunch of energetic members? Remember that those officers you elected were once org members as well. They answered the call of the three I’s of leadership: INSPIRE, IMAGINE, INFLUENCE. Maybe it’s your time. If yes, go ahead and fill up that candidacy form! If no, choose a friend (or even not a friend) whom you think is the “next big thing” and suggest to him assuming officership come next school year.
It’s been a while. I miss all these stuff and you undergraduates still have the luxury of time to cherish all these opportunities. Org life is something you’ll bring along with you as you grow up as well, so make sure your memories are the best. Elect leaders who will make your organization awesomesauce and LEGENDARY.
ACheS COMELEC Commissioner for Electoral Publications and Promotions 0809
COA COMELEC Commissioner for Ways and Means 0910
About the picture: A promo material designed by the author during his term as ACheS COMELEC Commissioner. Words of leadership taken from John Maxwell’s books.