Student Officer Elections
Throughout the school year, students will stand out as leaders. Students who perform well in all aspects of leadership should be encouraged to run for an officer position. The decision to run should not be made lightly, though, and Student Organization leaders should work with the members to make sure they are informed on the positions and the duties the positions entail. The Advisor, current and former leaders can help students determine if they should run for an office.
Choosing A Leadership Position
Students interested in running for office should learn as much as they can about the office from as many sources as possible.
- What is the nature of the position and the time commitments that come with it?
- How does the position relate to the organization as a whole?
- How long is the term of office?
- What responsibilities come with the office?
- How does the organization train new leaders?
- Is it possible to mirror the person currently holding the office?
Encourage students to think about the skills they possess in relation to the office. Students should decide whether they:
- Are good candidates for the position
- Have or intend to develop the skills necessary to the position
- Are confident in their ability and can transmit that confidence to others
- Are sincerely interested in the growth of the organization rather than personal motivations
- Have the time to devote to the organization and the office
Allow the prospective student leader to read the Student Organization’s constitution, including the position description, and to review its files. The more information a student gathers, the better able he/she will be to make a decision.
Running An Election
- Read your constitution to clarify election procedures. If your organization does not have a constitution, check with the Student Organization Advisor to see how elections have been handled in the past.
- Always leave adequate time between elections and the time when the new leadership assumes their roles so that the outgoing officers can train the incoming officers.
- Notify members 4-6 weeks before elections about the process and the procedures for nominating candidates.
- Establish an election committee or chair to oversee the election process. The committee/chair should be impartial, not someone running for election. The committee/chair will establish the guidelines for the election meeting.
- Give adequate time for people to nominate themselves. Make sure to advertise this process very well. To help people determine if they want to run, publish officer duties and/or host an informational meeting. Encourage potential candidates to meet with outgoing officers.
- Publicize the elections through mail, flyers, and the Internet. Don’t forget to invite your advisor.
At the election meeting:
- Make sure only voting members are present.
- If possible, have preprinted ballots available. Include a write-in spot for anyone who declares his/her intent to run at the last minute.
- Give the candidates 3-5 minutes each to speak about why they are running and their qualifications.
- After voting, the election committee/chair should count the votes.
- Establish procedures for a tie-breaker in the event one is needed.
- Notify all members of the organization and the advisor of the results within 24 hours.
Work with your advisor, outgoing leaders, and the Manager of Student Life and Leadership Development to plan orientation and training for the new officers.