The Other 2020 Election
By Aaron R. Tadavić
This past Friday, BR went to the polls. What was revealed on Monday, was an exciting announcement following a historic election. It will inevitably forge the course school spirit at BR in the year ahead.
But how did the circumstances of this election compare to the student councils of the past? And what does it mean for BR’s future?
A History, in Brief
BR boasts what is likely the finest student-democratic tradition in all of Milton.
Dustin Chandler, also the founder of the original BR newspaper, was likely the first Student Government Prime Minister in recorded history, according to a gavel kept by Mr. Castellan until 2020.
Between the years of 2004 to 2008, many key changes occurred in shaping Student Government into the Council we know and love today. In 2004 the Student Government rebranded itself to “Student Council”, in hopes of sounding more contemporary. Additionally, in 2008, the role of President became dual, as in the old Consuls of Rome, and BR was officially led by two Co-Presidents.
It was in 2013 that a key interface of communication between staff and student, council and Royal, was brought to BR: social media. Presidents “Qahzaam” (last name unknown) and Rebecca “Rbecs” McLaren were responsible for starting the prevalent @brscouncil Instagram and Twitter pages which have collectively amassed over 2000 followers today.
2015-2016 and 2016-2017 were years of exploring newfound territory for Council. 2015-2016 is also known as the Year of Four Presidents, having been the first time that existing Co-Presidents were replaced with acting ones. A similar phenomenon occurred in 2017, when one Co-President was also removed from office and another council member was appointed to serve as acting president, alongside Rayan “Rayvay” Hussain. This was a pivotal moment in Council history, as it was the first time in memory a Grade 11 student had held the position of Co-Pres, even in an interim capacity, leading Karyssa “KChan” Chan to be BR’s longest-serving President.
KChan, as she was better known, along with Kyle “DJ Ricka Ricka” Raymond, were co-presidents of Student Council the following year, from 2017-2018.
In 2018-2019, Ashley “AJPablo” Pablo, the previous Arts Rep on Council and HOSA founder Joshua “Jrosh” Aragone were elected in a close race in 2018.
2019 marked the implementation of new staff advisors and presidents Sean D’Mello and Davin Caratao, whose radio names were identical to their legal ones. Their term was marred with the cancellation of elections due to the school closures.
The subdued end to their term gave way to non-graduating members of the 2019-2020 Council carrying over into the new school year as a caretaker administration until the 2020-2021 elections were announced.
This election was a quiet one. In keeping with the procedure used for the Class of 2020 Valedictorian elections, the campaign was held entirely online, with the traditional assembly, with its pomp and circumstance typically reminiscent of bombastic mid-century American campaigns, noticeably absent.
Also remarkable was the lack of opinionated campaigning. On social media, candidates were only allowed to encourage students to watch all the campaign videos, not to encourage a vote for any individual.
This online campaign can be seen to have brought an end to the grandiose campaigns as typified by previous presidents such as Caratao with his over 60 posters, banner, buttons and lawn sign. A pressing question comes to mind: is this how BR shall vote from now on? And is it all for the better? Either way, this election has been monumental for its unorthodox proceedings.
There's a great philosophical riddle about the continuity of consciousness. The Ship of Theseus is the tale of an old Greek vessel that leaves its home, sails from port to port as it sustains damages and resignations, eventually returning home with each part of the ship and all the crew replaced.
Is it the same ship as left?
Many argue that it is, and it’s easy to understand why.
No-one in the Canadian Parliament or the Ford Motor Company was alive when those bodies were founded, and we recognize them today as the very same organization.
Same with the human body...you live today a completely different set of cells than you were just ten years ago. Are you, dear reader, not the same person?
Okay, and what about the Bluenose? You know, that boat on the dime? It was destroyed in 1946, but in 1963, a new, identical ship, also called the Bluenose, was made. Now is that the same ship?
If our Student Council was a sailing-ship, it would be more Bluenose than Theseus.
Probably the most notable of the takeaways from this Election was its high turnover of members. The 2019-2020 Council was truly the entrenchment of a new student-political establishment. That year, 10 out of the 12 positions that could be held by sitting student councillors were filled by student council members. Only Jr. PR Rep Cristina Gutierrez, and Treasurer Meg Duivesteyn, were new additions to Council.
Even the two new Grade 9 Reps were both Student-Parliament Presidents in their elementary school. While last year’s council typified the norm, this year’s typified radical change, in a year when so much is in flux.
10 of 14 members last year were returning incumbents, for comparison, only 4 out of 14 members in this year’s Council were re-elected from last year.
Only four, the Co-Presidents Hana Rehman and Faiq Farooq, as well as newly-Grade 10 Rep Ava Wynhofen, and Grade 11 Rep Ragavan “Drone Shots” Ravendran, carry over the past year’s council. But even this has some historical precedent.
The 2018-2019 Council was also emblematic of great change. Only two members, President Ashley Pablo and Josh Aragone, had remained from the 2016-2017 Council. Similar, but not quite to the degree of this year’s council, only 6 members carried on from the 2017-2018 year to the 2018-2019 year. Of those 6, only 5 were re-elected or appointed. The 2018-2019 election Pablo-Aragone Council ushered in a two-year period of stability on Council membership. That stability, however, has shattered with this election and fresh change has come.
We ought to analyze why and how this happened. One compelling explanation is the vast changes the digital campaign brought to the Council election. With a campaign stripped of word-of-mouth, the omnipresent posters wallpapering the halls, and whispers in the hallways, it became simply the video that decided the election.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted this year’s Council...and that’s a good thing. Fresh faces and old members alike, we’ve got amazing students across the board and I look forward to seeing the change they bring about,” commented one Grade 12 student.
The Future, briefly
What this means for the future of Council remains to be seen.
When I first came to BR, I thought of Council as an entrenched clique, an old boy’s club that played by the rules it made. Slowly, as more candidates swept into office with humouristic videos and widespread campaigns that so many people loved, did Council begin to change.
And while last year’s election was the picture of either stability or stagnancy, depending on how you view it, this year marks a decided shift from the norm. Who is to say if this election turns out to be an important precedent for cyclical change on Student Council or a mere blip in the continuous and steady ebb-and-flow of Student Council?
Hopefully, with all these new, fresh members, new and exciting ideas will come from our new Council.
Oceans rise and fall, and someone else wears the red shirt every year. What the future holds will be in the hands of BR voters come May.