Controversy Rises Around Senior Polls

Sara Vitale, Lauren Diamond
February 26, 2013

Recently, the yearbook class came under scrutiny for its handling of the senior superlatives. The nominations for the polls were done via an online survey, which the yearbook editors posted on the “M-A Class of 2013″ Facebook page.
The issue arose because, of the approximately 465 seniors, only about 280 were connected to the Facebook page at the time of the original nominations. Of these 280 students, only about 200 completed the online survey, resulting in a final ballot dominated by people of the same social circle and race.

When the final paper ballots were handed out to seniors in their English classes, many students found that they did not recognize any of the names in front of them.

“What upset me about the polls was that I saw very little diversity. I only knew like three people and I didn’t have a clue who anyone else was,” said senior Elvia Mendoza.

Yearbook managing editor Anna Argente explains that “using the ‘Class of 2013!!!!’ page seemed to be the best way to contact fellow classmates, as Leadership had created the page to be able to contact the senior class about fun senior events and deadlines. However, we did, in fact, advertise the poll nominations on the morning announcements in early January for a week. The poll link was also posted on the “yearbookavenue.com,” a website that is used to buy yearbooks at M-A.”

“In a way, I think the polls reflect M-A’s issues with integrating its diverse components because those who got to nominate only nominated people within their own race,”
 said senior Cynthia Yvett Martinez.

Ballots were submitted with refusals to vote or protests about the polls’ lack of diversity. Argente argues that it “is unfair to bring race into the issue” because “M-A prides itself on diversity.”

Argente said that “though it may have seemed that the majority of the people on the ballots were Caucasian, those were the people that had been rightfully nominated through a fair process of which the entire senior class was informed.”

“I do think that this is proof as to how separated everyone in our senior class, as well as the whole school, is” said Martinez. “Honestly I was willing to take this to administration and try to get something done.”

Students did take action by appealing to Leadership, requesting a paper renomination and re-vote. Yearbook advisor Betsy Snow explains, “There was a paper petition that happened at lunch one day… and I said ‘oh great you guys are doing a petition, awesome’. And they go ‘yeah, we’re going to do this petition and we’re going to give it to Leadership to tell them how much we don’t like this.” The issue with this, pointed out Snow, is that “Leadership has nothing to do with this” yearbook class-controlled issue.

The follow up petition used a SurveyMonkey survey distributed through Facebook. “That is exactly what the editors did with the nomination process, which completely validated their original process,” said Snow.

The yearbook class chose not to conduct a re-vote, believing their environmentally friendly method to be more all-encompassing and efficient than last year’s method; “last year, we used paper ballots, distributing them to two or three government/econ classes” explains yearbook editor-in-chief Flint Mitchell.

The yearbook class instead compromised by adding eight new polls, which were voted on in an online survey, again advertised through the Facebook page and the morning announcements. However, fewer students participated in this second poll and the controversy died down.

 

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Comments

9 Responses to “Controversy Rises Around Senior Polls”

  1. bwiener on February 26th, 2013 8:46 pm

    From the process described by Argente, it seems like nobody was left out of the nomination process; everyone had a fair chance to participate. To bring race into this seems absolutely ridiculous. I fail to see how the fact that many people chose not to participate in this nomination process relates in any way to the ethnicities of the people who ended up nominated in the various categories.

  2. shoover on February 26th, 2013 9:04 pm

    As a Junior who transferred to M-A in my Sophomore year, I often don’t recognize the majority of the names on the homecoming ballots and such for my class. If something like this were to happen to me in my senior year, I would shrug it off and just put down some random names. Kudos to those students who recognized the problem and decided to actually do something about it. On a different note, while I do believe that all students were given a fair opportunity to participate in this particular survey because it was announced over the intercom at school, I think the yearbook class should have recognized that a lot of people don’t listen very closely to the morning announcements, or sometimes can’t even hear them because other students in their class are loud, and assumed a bigger role in spreading the news about the survey. It’s not their job to ensure that every student participates in the survey, but I believe that as leaders of the project they have a responsibility to be active in spreading the word.

  3. Liviera on February 26th, 2013 9:23 pm

    Facebook is usually a really reliable way to get to people so I agree that it was a good way to do the nominations (especially since it’s eco-friendly. However, I think the Yearbook committee should have tried harder to publicize these polls. It’s true, most people don’t listen to the announcements. Maybe some posters in Pride Hall or classroom visits may have been helpful? There will always be some kinks when trying new things so this is just a learning experience. I commend the courage people took to make the petition and oppose this because they believed it was wrong, but I don’t condone all the criticism that the yearbook committee is receiving because they do work hard to put together a good yearbook for us and everybody makes mistakes.

  4. Alyssa W. on February 26th, 2013 10:03 pm

    I don’t think this process was very fair. I think it is more fair than last year, as I definitely felt excluded when I heard that they only gave the paper ballots to a couple of classes – how is that supposed to represent everyone? But limiting the voting to only people that can be online on Facebook isn’t fair either. Not everyone has internet access consistently.

  5. alai on February 26th, 2013 10:12 pm

    It seems unrealistic to expect such a large senior class to recognize all of their classmates, making the process of picking one or two people from a class of nearly 500 people for each senior superlative especially difficult.

    Katie Gaherty Reply:

    I completely agree. It is hard because not everyone knows each other and selecting a few of the large class is almost unfair to the rest of the students. Something that should be fun ends up being a very unpleasant process.

  6. rgordan on February 28th, 2013 7:48 pm

    I feel that it wouldn’t have been that hard for them to make the effort to do written nominations. Lesson learned, hopefully.

    Will Hanley Reply:

    I definitely agree with Robbie. While it is definitely better for the environment to use social networking sites like facebook, the yearbook class should have known that not everyone has access to Facebook and it was slightly ignorant of them not to take that into account.

  7. sviswanathan on March 19th, 2013 10:34 pm

    I agree, that in some sense, there is alot of bias taken towards the senior polls. I think that they prove a lot more competitive to some then they should be. This then tends to make them not as fun and more mean spirited.