Running for Student Elections

Born and bred a British, Shamima, 17, is all about creativity and self-expression. She wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and pursue her interests in poetry, fashion, writing and maybe in the distant future, property development.

Having just been campaigning for my own student elections, I wish to share with you some useful pointers, from my experience, to help you in your own campaign.

There are many reasons why anyone would choose to stand for student elections:

  1. To impress
  2. Popularity
  3. Power
  4. To revolutionise
  5. Leadership
  6. Involvement

The first three, however important to some, are definitely not the right motives to for wanting join the student council. A position in the council means commitment and hard work, and selflessness. You are not standing for yourself, but for the whole school. The decisions that you make will need to take into account the diversity and needs off all the students. It means staying back late and coming into school earlier to organise events for others, or to debate your way through ‘authority’ to create opportunities and make suggestions for things that may never concern or benefit you personally. Basically, you’ve got to be the ‘people’s person’. Basically, you’ve got to rise up to the challenge with determination. And determination comes from positive motives.

Running your Campaign:

It may appear that you are specifically campaigning for one reason and one reason only, to get the maximum number of votes. However your campaign plays a far more important role, which will indirectly get you votes – for all the right reasons.

It gives you a chance to share your thoughts and ideas, lets you get to know others and for others to get to know you.  It goes without saying that you need to be yourself.

  1. 1. Get out there and get talking:

Students want to know who you are and more important why they should vote for you. Posters alone are not going to fulfil that.

Get yourself doing rounds in the student common rooms, hallways, outside etc, and go from person to person (or more commonly, groups), introduce yourself and what you are running for and ask politely if they would vote for you. I say ask first because not everyone is interested in the ‘why’s’ and the ‘how’s’ and are more than happy to vote for you simply because you approached them.

Answering questions:

There will be people who will turn around and ask, ‘Why should I vote for you? What will you do for us?’

This is your moment to prove yourself. Be confident and let your enthusiasm shine through. Making it up on the spot and obvious hesitancy is not going to impress.

One way to approach this is to write down your ideas and your reasons for wanting to be in the student council, be original but realistic with solid grounds to support you. Demonstrate how your idea would improve your school and why it is such a necessity. Once you have figured out what your aims are, it becomes a lot easier to talk about.

  1. 2. Have personality:

I emphasise once again that being ‘yourself’ is the key, keep this in mind when designing posters. Do not try to ‘big yourself up’, it sends very negative messages, having the opposite effect to what you were hoping for.  Think positive-ness, smiles-all-around, fresh and fun, something others can identify you with. A quirky phase that sticks in everyone’s mind and on the tip of their tongues will make sure you stand apart.

As for location, put your posters where they cannot be avoided, but not places people might find irritating e.g., on the wall coming up the stairs is a good place because I am not necessarily busy and it is somewhere you expect to see interesting posters. I don’t mind hanging around, having a look. The toilet door on the other hand, well… it’s just awkward.

  1. 3. A token:

Bribery? Certainly not. Think about it, we’re teenagers, and teenagers love trends, so it makes sense to start your own. Badges, stickers, funky bracelets, anything you can make on a large scale, very fast. Notice I specified ‘make’, it showcases your abilities and speaks volumes about how much this means to you. On the other hand, showing off how much you spent, doesn’t. Candy is a tricky one, everyone will accept them, but only some may appreciate them and many will ridicule your attempt to win them over with sugar.

One thing you must not do is make promises such as ‘vote for me, I will give you…’ i.e.  a bribe.

The aim of this, if successful, is to create a trend. ‘I’ve got one!’ ‘I want one!’ Something people will pass around and share with friends, and generally enjoy.

To sum it all up:

Have humility, but radiate confidence and sociability, talk to everyone, SMILE and remember to thank everyone for their support, even just for listening to you.

But above all, ENJOY it!

Regardless of whether you win or not, the experience is fantastic, and the campaigning is an effective confidence building tool which you will benefit from through to school life. You’ll find that you’ve also made lots of new friends.




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