School-wide emails are something that we either cherish as essential updates for what’s going on in the Wellesley community or despise. No matter where you are on the spectrum of feelings towards school-wide emails, no one can deny that they served as a crucial medium for documenting the twists and turns in the 2023 class elections. Over the span of a week, promises were made, amusing election videos were shared, candy was delivered to doors and, most notably, election voting results were cancelled.
According to Jessica Grady, Director of Student Involvement & Leadership, the initial election day’s results were invalidated because several candidates violated election guidelines by campaigning on election day. Thus, there was a makeup election day on Oct. 21 during which any campaigning was strictly prohibited.
However, another statement in Grady’s email, posed almost as an afterthought, seemed more open to interpretation: “The primary reason for election guidelines is to administer a fair election, where candidates have an opportunity to share their views and reasons for running for office with the community.”
Let’s break this down. Yes, fair elections are nice, but would the campaigning barrier only during Election Day really get to some of the inequities potentially present in the election process? Maybe not every candidate has the economic means to send candy to the whole class or to create a fancy, humorous campaign video. These measures, albeit appreciated, don’t do much to share candidates’ “views and reasons for running for office with the community.”
More importantly, I question the necessity of strictly adhering to the rules in the first place. If most of the election rules are “unspoken,” according to an upperclassman, then they are reminiscent of mostly unnecessary social rules that govern us, which have massive amounts of control without ever being inscribed in law.
Yes, a lot has changed since the founding of the College in 1875 — for example, not everyone who attends the College identifies as a woman, which makes our institution even stronger and more poised to combat the oppressive status quo. But some things never change: Wellesley alumnae, including those who were part of Class Council, would never have made such a positive difference in others’ lives if they had followed the rules imposed upon them by their patriarchal socialization. If you belong to one or more marginalized communities, rules are especially meant to be broken. I recognize that it can be risky at times to deviate and that not everyone has the privilege to be in an accepting enough community to do so, but for some, Wellesley is a safe(r) space to fail to conform to the norm.
I’ll say it again: change can’t be created by adhering to the status quo, which is usually upheld by either informal or formal rules. Most of the proposals from candidates — such as community building over s’mores, hosting open meetings and facilitating access to job and internship resources — sound amazing, but what I’d most like to see in my class representatives is the ability to break from the norm when it is oppressive or exclusive of a marginalized section of Wellesley’s population. And in the campaign emails and activities on our initial Election Day, as annoying as they may have been, I saw a glimmer of this quality shine through. When students campaigned past the deadline, which I interpreted as mostly a mistake that was committed out of their resolute to be elected, some of their ideas — such as cultural competency sessions, mental health check-ins, student-led workshops on race, gender or sexuality and pushing for more disability accommodations and sustainable practices — provided me with a clearer vision of how their leadership would benefit the student body. I only hope that as the year progresses, the 2023 Class Council continues to exemplify what Wellesley truly stands for: a willingness to be disturbed by difference, and as a result, deviation from the norm to craft a more innovative path to success and inclusion.