Seunghee Lee, ‘19 , Inhan Kang, ‘19, Geoun Han, ‘19 , Sungwoo Park,‘19, Suh-hyeon Paik , ‘20
This year’s school president election was surely the most competitive election in recent years. Compared to the past few elections, which only had two candidates both from the international course, this year’s election had four candidates: one from the domestic course and three from the international course. During the election week, many students were passionately involved in the election process and on the very day of the election, regardless of the long lines, many students enthusiastically voted for the candidate whom they supported. When the election was over, HAFS Harbinger interviewed the four candidates—Seunghyun Chae (a.k.a. Chae), Junghun Go (a.k.a.Go), Yoojin Jung (a.k.a. Jung), Donghyun Lee (a.k.a. Lee)— about the election.
Q. What did you learn from participating in the election? What did you gain from this experience?
Chae: While there is still a lot to fix in our school, it has been quite indifferent to making changes. Furthermore, there were some parts of our school that I felt strong need to be improved.
Go: As the candidate, I was able to feel the heavy responsibility that lies with the position of “HAFS student president.” Also, while making strategies and running the election, I was able to think of the way of how I should behave if I become a school president. During the election, I learned that alone, I cannot handle all the problems. Being with friends who helped me in hard situations, I was able to recognize that they really are good friends.
Jung: Honestly, I wanted to be the student president for some time. Through various experiences from my freshman year, I was able to witness some chronic problems. A change in the students’ culture was urgent. I have experienced limitations of what I can do for the school or the students in the official positions that I had experienced. I had always wanted to make, change and develop the school. So without further hesitation, I decided to run because I thought that it was the student body president who was able to move on to practice rather than just suggesting. And the result was defeat. But I am dignified and not regretful at all. I have worked diligently in my speeches, debates, election campaigns with the best of my team. I spent a long time preparing for this election and really put my heart into it. It feels like yesterday that I carefully looked over each of my promised policies and made sure they were approved by the teachers. But through this experience, my running mates and I have had a chance to learn and grow a little more.
Lee: First of all, I was able to have a chance to talk in front of a lot of people. There was also the candidate debate which had a big crowd, and of course, the candidate speech was given in front of 750 people (all 1,2 graders) so it was nice to be able to express myself in a public spot. Also, during the whole election, my supporters really helped me out a lot. They took this election as seriously if it were their own. So, I really want to thank them for their support, and I’m thankful because I’ve earned really great companions.
Q. What is your opinion on the process of the election(and candidates’ violation of the electoral laws)?
Chae: I believe that the students should have been more clearly informed of the specific laws. I think that most of the problems that occurred during the election were mainly due to the lack of access to accurate information, and this is one of the most crucial matters that the 13th Student Council should focus on.
Go: I am not sure whether I can answer this question or not, but as the one who was criticized by HAFS Confession Page for violating the electoral laws, I felt that it is the one which I should be responsible for. I made a promise to myself that from now on, when I lead the Student Council, I will make sure that it will be fair and clear. Also, while reading the articles updated in the HAFS Confession Page, I thought that whether it was done intentionally or not, our team had influenced other teams. I really wanted to apologize to all of them.
Jung: When I was informed with the electoral law, I read each article with my supporters, pledged it, and posted it on my supporters page. I was careful to make sure that I do not violate it. So the other candidates’ violation was a big disappointment. I was angry and unhappy, and most of all, I felt dumbstruck about what to do. Although our team did not violate the electoral law, we still felt ashamed and embarrassed that this election could be badly seen by the students and I can not express my opinion and apologize. I wish I could say that it’s okay now that it has been a long time, but I can not do that only for the reason that things are over. Now this election is completely over, and the newly elected student presidency is already committed to the student council selection, so I hope there will not be any controversy over the violations of the electoral law. To this end, I hope that the Election Commission will make more specific election laws, and elaborate on the penalties and election law matters (provisions). Furthermore, the current Student Council, having a history of violations of the electoral law, should be careful that such things do not to happen again.
Lee: I think the whole process of the election went fine. I had no problem. However, as many had heard, there were many rumors surrounding violation of the electoral law and I, of course, also know about this issue. There were “reports” on the HAFS Confession Page, and rumors about illegal methods during candidates’ campaigns; however, after talking about the people actually related to these rumors, and thinking back on the issues, I think they just got exaggerated and blown up. So, I don’t mind the whole matter. Anyways, the School Election Commission reacted quickly to the incident and did the research and judgement needed so I’m fine with that. Plus, the whole incident didn’t have a big influence on the election so I don’t think it was something I deemed important.
Q. What do you regret the most about this election?
Chae: I personally felt that there wasn’t much opportunity to communicate with the voters. We might have been able to pay closer attention to the voters’ opinion if there were more events like talk shows or debates.
Go: Definitely, candidates’ debate was the most regretful thing. I am sure that everyone who saw my debate would agree with me: I am ashamed that my debate had clearly shown my lack of understanding of the school policies and student council. But, I want to say that it is the part from which I will further improve and learn. Also, by the help of many friends and teachers, I want to swear that I will be a proud and honorable school president in front of all HAFS students.
Jung: Same response to the prior question
Lee: As mentioned before, my supporters did all they could to help, but during the campaign, only the candidates got the spotlight, and the supporters pretty much didn’t get any advantages. Personally, I felt sorry to my supporters for it and hope that the supporters can get more benefits in later elections. One thing I regret is when starting my campaign, only us candidates (school president and vice president candidates) tried to do all the work on our own. Because of this, projects like making the posters got delayed. I think I should have collaborated more with my supporters to be productive.
Q. What is your advice to future candidates who will
be running for the next student council?
Chae: My advice is that candidates should have more time to prepare. I had less time to prepare the campaign compared to other candidates because I chose my running mates 3 days before the registration deadline. I also recommend future candidates to boldly participate in the election.
Go: What I want to say to the future candidates is that they should work with conviction. Choosing the supporters, making candidate speech and debate, and electioneering, what candidates do is tough. So if you do not have a confidence in yourself, students will find it out. I hope that future candidates will have enough time to agonize about what they are doing and be sure of it before preparing the election.
Jung: Just take the challenge. If you are a student who is interested in school issues and students’ stories and is willing to endlessly endeavor just go for it.
Lee: Being the school president (or vice president) is the best chance and path to serve the school and students, so be confident and try running for office.
Q. Any last words?
Chae: I believe that HAFS can be a better school if students care more about what’s going on in school and actively discuss the policies with their peers.
Go: I swear to the students who trusted and voted for me that I will clearly solve the problem of lack of communication. From now on, while I am leading the student council, there will be lots of difficulties and student council and I, who aren’t perfect, will make mistakes. When those times come, I will be glad if students of HAFS keep their eyes on us and give harsh criticism and advice.
Jung: Thank you for loving and supporting our team. We will make our precious votes fulfilled by making HAFS a better place in our current given positions. My 10 supporters, thank you for saying yes when I asked for help despite your busy schedules. You were truly life-savers. And I also thank our unofficial supporters who made contributions to us. Most of all, I’d like to thank my running mates, my two vice presidents. Since summer vacation, we met every once in a while to think about our promises and ran around the school to get permission from the teachers. I couldn’t have chosen a better team. And when results were announced, we all gathered together to cheer each other up. I really am proud to say that we really went through this election to the end without losing the initial intention. Finally, for my supporters who couldn’t tell the candidates as soon as you heard the results of the election, for those of you who worked so hard for this election, and truly supported us throughout this experience, thank you. The fact that I was able to meet each one of you makes me so happy and thankful. You all made this election the best and my happiest days. Thank you all.
Lee: During the whole campaign, I saw many students that were unaware of the time and dates of the candidate debate, speech, and even the voting. I wished that the announcements would have been made better and earlier so that more students are knowingly participating in these elections. Also, during my campaign, one of my pledges was about changing the Wi-Fi structure in our school, but realistically this was an improbable pledge. I heard some wrong information about the Wi-Fi that influenced me, and I probably should have talked about this matter with the teachers before moving on and I am sorry for not doing so beforehand. Last of all, I would like to thank everyone who supported me and voted for me.