Our diverse school needs to make diverse student government a priority
As midterm elections at the local and state level approach, so are elections here at Oakland High School. Students are making posters to publicize their campaigns and hopefully, find a place in class office or Associated Student Body (ASB) next year. However, something that has become a trend in our student government is the lack of diversity and representation of the true population of O-High.
Oakland itself is a melting pot, and surely any Oaklander would find it hard to believe that one of the most diverse schools, in one of the most diverse cities, has a predominantly Asian student government. A possible solution to this problem would be to make school voting compulsory, meaning every student is required to vote. As student turnout usually consists of the candidates’ friends, it naturally ends up with those friends becoming the population of voters, and of course, voting for their friends.
While this is an experiment to try, we believe the problem is much more complex. As in any election, people do not want someone inexperienced making the big decisions, and the people who have the experience here are those students who have been in student government since 9th grade, or even before. Realistically, the students that are not running, not gaining experience, and not winning, are the students that are Black, Latinx, and others.
So, what do we think should happen? We need to focus our attention on the root of the problem: how we support our children growing up, and more support towards Black and Latinx families. How we are raised is what defines our outlook on life, and the importance of school involvement. Black students make up the single largest group Oakland High’s population, yet we don’t have a single black person in the student government this year, and only one ran on the ballot this year. We need to find a way to get our underrepresented students more involved in our school.
These elections are more important than people think; these elections can lead to future candidates at the local, state, and federal level; these elections can lead to students not just making it a habit to vote here, but also in those local, state, and federal elections. These elections are what make you stand out in college applications, they give you experience in decision making and leadership positions, and they give people a chance to represent our school. And our school is not being represented in the way it can be, at the moment.
We call on our current student government to encourage other people to run (spread the love), that aren’t their friends; We call on our administrative staff and teachers to be more involved in these elections and try to see how important these elections really are, and show the students that you are very much there for them; and we call on our underrepresented students to RUN and VOTE now.
Start the spark that will soon become a fire. Change doesn’t happen overnight, this is a process, and this is a change that will need the help of a whole community.